Opinion No. 115 (1988)

QUESTION: May a constitutional county judge ethically serve as a co-chairman of a committee created for the purpose of eliminating drug abuse in his or her county? The committee would solicit funds for the purpose of educating the public, offering rewards, compiling statistics, and seeking necessary legislation.

ANSWER: As a titular head of county government, a county judge should encourage the formation of such described organizations. Canon 8C(1) permits the judge's participation in such programs so long as they relate to his or her duties in the administration of the county. However, the code imposes other restrictions which might make it impractical for a judge to participate in the organizations' activities. For instance, (1) a judge should not personally solicit funds (Canon 4(C)); (2) a judge should not give investment advice (Canon 5B(3)); (3) such activities do not interfere with his or her judicial duties (Canon 5B(1)); (4) the organization does not engage in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge in his judicial capacity, or will be regularly or frequently engaged in adversary proceedings in any court (Canon 5B(1)); (5) service on the committee would not detract from public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary (Canon 2A); (6) the judge would be unswayed by partisan interest, public clamor, or fear of criticism (Canon 3A(1)); (7) such service does not cast doubt on the judge's capacity to decide any issue that may come before his or her court (Canon 4A); and (8) the judge does not try drug or drug related cases.

The committee is of the opinion that Canon 8C(1) permits a judge to ethically serve as a co-chairman of such described committee, provided he or she adheres to those provisions of the code enumerated above.