Opinion 74-15
November 12, 1974

Re: Canon 5
Re: Standards of Judicial Conduct

Dear Judge

In your letter of October 29, 1974, you stated you hold a one-eighth interest in the tract of waterfront property in County which you inherited from your father. Further, you state that in order to develop the property for its highest and best use, that it may be necessary for litigation to be instituted by you and the other ten or eleven owners. This litigation apparently would be in the Judicial Circuit, and not in your jurisdiction.

Your question was: Does the Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct find anything impermissible in your proceeding with the litigation along with the other owners.

It is the opinion of this Committee that there is no impropriety on your part in obtaining a legal solution concerning your interest in the real property that may become involved in litigation.

The restrictions placed upon a judicial office holder by the Code of Judicial Conduct were never intended to divest a judge of his right to be involved in investment opportunities so long as they do not interfere or conflict with the performance of his judicial duties. Any other interpretation of the judicial position and the restrictions thereon would not only penalize an individual holding judicial office, but would fail to recognize the economics of judicial service which necessitate some degree of involvement in income producing activities. Owning and receiving income from investments do not, per se, affect the performance of a judge's duties.

The Committee sees nothing in the facts outlined by you that would interfere or conflict with your duties or the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Committee appreciates the opportunity of furnishing you this opinion.

/s/GUNTER STEPHENSON, as Chairman
Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct

GS:jss

cc: all members