May 13, 1986

Opinion 86/7
Re: Canon 5C(1)

You state that you are presently a candidate for elective judicial office, although you are also presently practicing law with a firm. Your firm has an agreement whereby a retiring partner becomes entitle to a fixed percentage of legal fees generated by him. These fees are to be paid over a period of 36 months from the date of the partner's retirement from the firm.

It is not entirely clear from your inquiry as to whether your entitlement will be fixed with reference to work that will have been performed before you become a judge. The committee assumes you understand that you will not be entitled to collect fees generated by your clients on matters which arise after you become a judge.

The committee unanimously agrees that acceptance of payments under the contract would not violate the Canons of Conduct Governing Judges. The committee believes you should refrain from handling cases in which your former law partners have an interest for the term of the agreement. Canon 5C(1) provides that, "a judge should refrain from financial and business dealings that tend to reflect adversely on his impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of his judicial duties, exploit his judicial position, or involve him in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court on which he serves." You may wish to review Opinions No. 74/4, 75/12, 76/1, 77/18, 75/7.

In summation, the committee sees nothing wrong with your receiving the benefits of your prior legal work when and if you are elected to judicial office. On the other hand, we recommend that you recuse yourself for the period of the agreement with reference to any cases in which your former law partners have an interest.

With regards, sincerely,

Oliver L. Green, Jr.
Chairman