Opinion No. 148 (1992)

FACTS ASSUMED: A district judge is the judge of a court designated as a juvenile court and serves on the County Juvenile Board, which has the statutory duty and authority to employ juvenile probation department staff members, designate the titles of employees, and set their salaries. The same judge also serves on the Texas Juvenile Probation commission, which has the statutory duty and authority to allocate and distribute to juvenile boards the funds appropriated by the Legislature and to give technical assistance and training to juvenile boards and juvenile probation departments. A pertinent statute provides that two members of the Commission shall be district judges who are judges of juvenile courts.

QUESTION: When acting as a member of the Commission should the judge vote on questions which affect funding for the juvenile probation department supervised by the Juvenile Board on which the judge serves and on questions concerning funding formula and guidelines that apply to all juvenile boards?

ANSWER: Yes. Canon 3B(1) provides that a judge should diligently discharge all administrative responsibilities. The statutory arrangement manifests a legislative intent to coordinate the Commission's work with that of local juvenile boards, as well as a legislative assumption that the arrangement itself does not create a conflict of interest.

However, this Committee observes that there may be circumstances under which such a judge may decide that it would be appropriate in order to avoid the appearance of partiality for the judge to abstain from voting on a specific matter that would have an apparent and substantially greater impact on the judge's own probation department than on other departments generally.