Opinion No. 105 (1987)

QUESTION: May a County Court at Law Judge participate in the collection of court fees and other fees owed to the County Clerk's Office by writing letters to or personally contacting the persons who owe the fees?

ANSWER: No. A judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary (Canon 1), and should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his activities (Canon 2). The collecting of the past due debts of the County by a judge constitutes the practice of law. A judge should not practice law (Canon 5F) and should not have ex parte communications concerning the merits of impending litigation. [Canon 3A(5)]. The collecting of past due debts of a county is the duty of an authorized agency, i.e. County Attorney, District Attorney, or retained private practicing attorney.