TRUSTEE FOR FORMER LAW ASSOCIATE

Opinion No. 84 (1986)


QUESTION: Prior to becoming a district judge, an attorney served as a trustee for many years in a trust created by a law associate for the benefit of the law associate's wife's grandchildren. May the judge ethically continue to serve as a trustee after he has taken his oath of office?

ANSWER: No. Canon 5D of the Code of Judicial Conduct states, "A judge should not serve as...[A] trustee...except for the...trust of a member of his [or her] family; and then only if service will not interfere with the proper performance of [judicial] duties." Although the judge and the beneficiaries of the trust obviously enjoy a warm and cordial relationship, the beneficiaries are not members of the judge's family. Canon 5D is quite clear, and to continue as trustee would be a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 5D.