November 18, 1976
Re: Canon 5C
This is in response to your recent letter inquiring whether it would be permissible under the Code of Judicial Conduct for you to retain a beneficial interest in a land trust. You indicate that you were recently elected circuit judge and will assume office in January 1977. You have advised that you have an interest in a land trust with several of your law partners and several business and professional men in the community. You state that the interest in this trust is beneficial and that you are neither a trustee, director or officer of any such trust.
The Committee has reviewed your inquiry and is unanimously of the opinion that there is no impropriety in the retention of the opinion that there is no impropriety in the retention of the beneficial interest in the land trust as described. A majority of the Committee, however, calls attention to the provisions of Canon 5C(1), which provides:
"(1) 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."
Two members of the Committee are of the opinion that it would be necessary for you to disqualify yourself in proceedings that come before you involving the attorneys that have any participation in the trust. In further regard to your inquiry enclosed please find copy of Opinion 76-1 relating to substantially the same subject matter.
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, Haverfield, Hewitt, Stephenson and Thomas MacDonald, Esquire