March 7, 1975
Re: Canon 3
In your letter of February 3, 1975, you request an opinion as to the propriety of a trial judge, after making a decision in a contested case, requesting one of the counsel before him to draw the judgment.
One member of the Committee suggests that we should adopt the procedure which is now being used by the Federal trial judges. However, since our rules do not prohibit or frown on utilization of counsel in preparation and submission of proposed findings and judgments, we suggest that attorneys for all parties be furnished with the proposed judgment before it is rendered by the Court.
The judgment rendered by counsel at the Court's request is tentative and for the sole purpose of aiding the requesting judge, not in deciding the case, but in draftsmanship. By submission of the proposed judgment to opposing counsel prior to rendition, there is no ex-parte communication in violation of the Code.
Thus, the Committee recommends that when a trial judge makes a decision, he may properly request counsel to prepare and draft said judgment and furnish opposing counsel with a copy thereof.
I trust this opinion will be of some help concerning your inquiry.
/s/ GUNTER STEPHENSON, as Chairman
Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct
cc: All members