Opinion No. 142 (1991)

QUESTION: May a newly elected Justice of the Peace who has had a bail bond license for several years continue his bail bond business if his son manages the business and does not make bond for accused persons who come before the Justice of the Peace.

ANSWER: No. Canon 5C(1) provides that a judge should refrain from financial dealings that tend to reflect adversely on the judge's impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties, exploit his or her judicial position, or involve the judge in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court on which the judge serves. The Committee concludes that continuing a bail bond business under the circumstances stated in the question would be inconsistent with these provisions of Canon 5C(1).

The Committee does note that Canon 8D(1)(b) provides that the requirement of Canon 5C(3), that a judge should divest financial interests that require frequent disqualification, does not apply to Justices of the Peace. However, the Committee believes that Canon 5C(1), which does apply, controls this question. Canon 9, which is also applicable, provides that a person to whom the Code becomes applicable should arrange his or her affairs as soon as reasonably possible to comply with it.