Opinion No. 223 (1998)

QUESTION: An Associate Judge (Master) appointed by a District Judge is seriously considering running for district judge. She wishes to take leave from her current position beginning on the date she files as a candidate. While on leave she will not act in any judicial capacity nor will she receive pay or benefits. She would like to continue coverage for county group health insurance, the cost of which would be borne completely by her. She may have accrued vacation and sick leave which would be reinstated if and when she returns to her job as Associate Judge.  

While she is on leave without pay:
1 . Is she prohibited from working for pay in a job unrelated to the law?

2. Is there any kind of law-related work for pay which she cannot perform? If so, what?

3. Can she practice law or act as a mediator? Can she associate with a law firm whose lawyers appear in court or accept court ordered mediations?

ANSWER: A full-time district court master must comply with all provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct whether on leave or not. A leave of absence is not a complete separation from employment; it connotes a continuity of employment status. As a result, the master on leave cannot take any employment prohibited by Canon 4.