Opinion No. 65 (1983)

QUESTION: May a judge serve as member of a board of a State agency created by the Legislature, which appointment requires appointment by the Governor and confirmation by the Senate, where the responsibilities are non-judicial and there is no compensation except reimbursement for expenses?

ANSWER: Canon 5G of the Code of Judicial Conduct states as follows:

"A judge should not accept appointment to a governmental committee, commission, or other position 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. A judge, however, may represent his [or her] country, state, or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical, educational, and cultural activities."

The Committee is of the opinion that a judge may not accept an appointment to a state board concerned with non-judicial matters, unless the function of that board is limited to historical, educational, or cultural activities. The Committee is of the further opinion that a judge should regulate his extra-judicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with his judicial duties, keeping in mind that an independent judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. The Committee notes that the stated question raises the issue of separation of powers which deserves consideration, but such issue is not within the scope of the Committee's function.