Opinion No. 39 (1978)

QUESTION: Does a judge subject to the Code of Judicial Conduct violate Canon 2B and/or 5C(4) by accepting an invitation from a firm of attorneys to be entertained with lodging, food and drinks for two nights and three days at a lake lodge? The outing is referred to as the firm's annual "Judicial Conference."

ANSWER: The Committee assumes that the name of the conference was chosen in jest or inadvertently; and, upon such assumption, gives an affirmative answer to the question as presented. Such answer, however, is confined to the precise factual situation presented. The Committee is of the opinion that when one assumes judicial office he does not forfeit his right to associate with his friends and acquaintances nor is he condemned to live the life of a hermit. In fact, such a regime would, in the view of the Committee, lessen the effectiveness of the judicial officer. While a judge should so conduct his impersonal affairs as to avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety, he is not precluded from accepting the hospitality of his friends, attending social activities of bar associations, groups of lawyers, or other citizens. He should not allow such social relationships to influence his judicial conduct or judgments, nor should he permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence him.