March 30, 1982
This is in response to your inquiry of January 15, 1982 as to the propriety of certain aspects of the dissolution of your former law firm when you took the bench. As always, there are cases in the firm that have been completed and billed, and others in various stages of completion. Your question however relates to the uncompleted cases. First you want to know whether there is any ethical consideration why the value of your stock, with respect to the uncompleted cases, cannot be computed when the cases are concluded.
Second, you inquire if there is any ethical problem arising form the fact that additional work will have to be performed by your former associates before some the cases can be concluded.
In Opinion 81-11 we held, citing Opinion 76-1, that there was no impropriety in a Judge receiving a proportionate share of fees earned by a professional association prior to becoming a judge. In Opinion 77-11 we dealt with an attorney who was owed attorney's fees incident to some cases still pending. We advised it would be improper for the Judge to sit in any cases which he had a monetary interest, but there was no impropriety in his sitting in cases involving the county in which he had no monetary interests.
Of the eight members responding to your inquiry all were of the opinion that there was no impropriety as to either of these questions.
James T. Carlisle, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges