RECUSAL -- OWNERSHIP OF STOCK

Opinion No. 35 (1978)*


FACTUAL ASSUMPTION: A district judge owns a small number of shares of stock in a large international oil company which is frequently a party to litigation in the district courts of his county.

QUESTION: Is the district judge required to note his disqualification or to recuse himself in all litigation involving such corporation?

ANSWER: As we held in Opinion Number 27 (October 17, 1977), this Committee does not have authority to pass upon the question of whether or not a judge is disqualified. The Constitution (Art. 5, Sec. 11) and the statute (Art. 15, V.A.C.S.) speak to the disqualification of a judge. The determination of disqualification is a judicial function.

However, whether a judge should recuse himself from pending litigation presents a question within the authority of this Committee since it is germane to
Canon 3C(3)(b) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Moreover, under Canon 2A, a judge "should conduct himself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."

The Committee is of the opinion that such judge should recuse himself from participating in litigation in cases involving corporations in which he owns stock, regardless of the number of shares owned.

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*Provisions relating to recusal and disqualification were removed from Canon 3C effective January 21, 1987. See Rules 18a and 18b, Texas Rules of Civil procedure.