August 16, 1976
Re: Canon 3C
This is in response to your recent inquiry regarding your possible disqualification as a judge in actions brought before your court involving the __________ Electric Cooperative Association, Inc.
You indicate that the electricity in the ________ is supplied by the _________ Electric Cooperative and that your wife is a member of the cooperative as are all other residents who use electricity in ______ . You further indicate that the cooperative brings actions in your court from time to time for past due debts and that the cooperative issues shares which have a monetary value based on the profits made by it.
The Committee has reviewed your inquiry with particular regard to Canon 3C which sets forth with particularity those circumstances and specific instances in which a judge must disqualify himself in a proceeding. A majority of the Committee (7-2) is of the opinion that Canon 3C would not under the fact circumstances outlined in your letter require your disqualification in considering the cases brought before you involving the _________ Electric Cooperative. Particularly, your attention is directed to Canon 3C(1)(c) and (d)(iii) which, in determining the financial interest in the subject matter in controversy, utilizes the phrase "substantially affected". In other words, while all users of electricity in ______ who are thereby members of the cooperative would be affected by the outcome of any litigation involving the collection of past due debts, the Committee is of the view that the person gaining or losing under such circumstances would not be "substantially affected" by the outcome of the proceeding within the contemplation of Canon 3C.
Two members of the Committee, however, were of the view that you should
recuse yourself in any case in which the Association is party and that another
judge of the County Court who is not a resident of the _________ should
properly handle any such cases.
We appreciate your interest and trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Chairman, Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Participating members: Boyer, Carlisle, Hewitt, Mason, Murphee, O'Connell, Stephenson and Thomas MacDonald, Esquire