NEWLY ELECTED DISTRICT JUDGE "WINDING DOWN"
OBLIGATIONS AS EX COUNTY JUDGE

DISTRICT JUDGE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE
POLICY COMMITTEE

Opinion No. 188 (1996)


QUESTION:
(A) May a newly appointed district judge "wind down" his service on the North Central Texas Council of Governments by attending three meetings in his capacity as immediate past president? Similarly may he attend two meetings remaining during his term as the Texas representative on the board of the National Association of Regional Councils of Government?

(B) Additionally, this district judge asks if he can sit on the Criminal Justice Policy Committee of the local Council of Governments, a committee which deals exclusively with criminal justice and juvenile and juvenile justice policy issues.

ANSWER:
(A) No. Canon 4H prohibits judges from accepting appointment to a governmental committee that is concerned with issues of fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. There is no provision for "winding down" a previous appointment; if it is improper to accept such an appointment, it is improper to continue such an appointment after assuming the bench.

(B) Yes. Service on a local council of governments committee concerned exclusively with criminal justice and juvenile justice policy issues is permitted by the language of Canon 4H allowing judges to accept appointment to governmental committees concerned only with issues of fact or policy involving the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. However, service on such a committee must comply with Canon 4A's admonition that the activities not interfere with judge's proper performance of judicial duties and not cast reasonable doubt on his capacity to act impartially as a judge.