Opinion No. 103 (1987)

QUESTION: Would it be a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct for a judge of a statutory county court at law to serve on the board of trustees of the Texas Association of Counties Health Insurance Trust?

ANSWER: The committee is informed that the TAC Insurance Trust is the vehicle through which the Texas Association of Counties affords its members group health insurance. The TAC trust board's responsibilities include: acquisition of insurance, collection of premiums, development of policy for that trust, preparation of contracts with (1) insurance companies, (2) participating members, (3) leases, and (4) other contracts necessary to proper administration of the trust. Board members serve without compensation. Service is voluntary.

Whether county employees have a group health program is determined by the Commissioners Court of each county. This is a governmental decision and the fact that a group of counties associate themselves into a common health program does not alter the nature of the decision. This is so because it is only the respective Commissioners Courts that decide whether to join a specific health program. The committee is of the opinion that the TAC insurance trust is governmental in nature with each county delegating its authority to the trust board.

Canon 5G admonishes a judge not to accept an extra-judicial 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. The health insurance trust is involved with issues of fact and policy on matters not concerning the improvement of law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. The committee is of the opinion that if a judge serves as a trustee on the TAC insurance trust, he or she would violate Canon 5G.