Opinion No. 204 (1997)

QUESTION NO. 1: May an active, sitting judge accept employment to appear in a television program portraying a judge presiding over simulated court proceedings based on actual trials? Program credits would indicate that the judge is presently a member of the Texas judiciary.

QUESTION NO. 2: May an active trial judge accept employment to consult with the producers of such a television proceeding, sharing his experiences with the producers and writers of such program and advise them as to proper court decorum and procedures?

ANSWER: No, to both questions, but only because the judge is being paid. Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct calls upon the judiciary to maintain high standards of conduct. Canon 4D(l) states that a judge shall refrain from exploiting his or her judicial position. Both activities in Questions No. 1 and No. 2 would exploit a judge's position for financial gain.

The subject activity is not prohibited if the judge is not paid so long as all other portions of the Code are followed, i.e. does not demean the judiciary, etc. Canon 4(B) specifically allows the judge to participate in activities concerning the law, the legal system, the administration of justice.