Opinion 76-25

December 15, 1976

Re: Canon 5B

Dear Judge:


This is in response to your recent inquiry regarding the propriety of your serving as a member of a County Ombudsman Committee.

You enclose a three page document describing the Committee's functions and purposes, which includes, among other things, the processing of citizen's complaints where a governmental agency is involved and possible legal action thereafter.

The Committee has reviewed you inquiry and is unanimously of the opinion that your participation as a member of this Committee would conflict with the provisions of Canon 5B. Although this organization may be involved in worthwhile activities, the nature and purpose of the organization would tend to place a judge in a position where involvement in this activity might tend to interfere with the performance of his judicial duties not to mention the likelihood that activities of the organization could result in adversary proceedings before the court.

Canon 5B, which recognizes a judge's participation in civic and charitable "that do not reflect adversely upon his impartiality or interfere with the performance of his judicial duties" also contains the following prohibition:

"(1) A judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before him or will be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court."

Your attention is also invited to Canon 5G relating to the types of extrajudicial appointments which a judge is permitted to accept. The Commentary appearing immediately after Canon 5G is appropriate not only to your inquiry but to any extra-judicial assignment of judges:

Commentary

Valuable services have been rendered in the past to the states and the nation by judges appointed by the executive to undertake important extra-judicial assignments. The appropriateness of conferring these assignments on judges must be reassessed, however, in light of the demands on judicial manpower created by today's crowded dockets and the need to protect the courts from involvement in extra-judicial matters that may prove controversial. Judges should not be expected or permitted to accept governmental appointments that could interfere with the effectiveness and independence of the judiciary.

We appreciate your inquiry and trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Sincerely,

Gerald Mager

Chairman, Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges

GM/cs

Participating members:, Carlisle, Haverfield, Hewitt, Murphee,O'Connell, Sample, Stephenson