August 29, 1993
Opinion No. 83/9
Judge serving on hospital board of directors
This is in response to your inquiry of July 19,1983. You want to know if it is ethically proper to be a member of the board of trustees of a hospital. According to the by-laws of the hospital, it is a subsidiary of the Hospital Corporation of America. Of the seven members of the committee on Standards of conduct Governing Judges who responded to this inquiry, all were of the opinion that the proposed conduct violates Canon 5B(1).
Hospital Corporation of America is a large holding company and unquestionably a corporation for profit. Large hospital management corporations, such as Hospital Corporation of America, Humana, Inc., frequently comprise large portions of court dockets. They utilize the courts to collect debts of delinquent patients. Being a member of the board of trustees would reflect adversely on the impartiality of the judge, or interfere with performance of judicial duties every time a recusal were called for.
Additionally, there is little to distinguish a trustee of the hospital from a director of a corporation. The conduct also violates Canon 5C(2).
James T. Carlisle
Chairman, Committee on Standards
of Conduct Governing Judges
Participating members: Judges Carlisle, Booth, Hewitt, Green, Grube, Letts, and attorney-at-law Samuel J. Powers, Jr.