June 26, 1978
The Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges acknowledges receipt of your recent inquiry wherein you recite that the Board of County Commissioners of one of the counties within your circuit has approved the placing on the ballot of a multi-million dollar bond issue for the following purposes:
(a) Park and open spaces
(b) Library facilities
(c) Satellite Courthouse
(d) Fire Training Academy
(e) Correctional facilities (100 bed work/rehabilitation facility with provisions for expansion)
(f) Road, street, highway and bridge construction projects; computerized traffic control system; Division of Streets and Highways facilities (maintenance shops, office, storage yard,and nursery)
Your first question is whether, under the Code of Judicial Conduct, it is proper for a judge to endorse or oppose via the media, speeches or in any other manner any of all of the above mentioned projects. The participating members of the Committee are unanimously of the view that you may properly endorse any of the projects relating to the law, improvement of the legal system and the administration of justice; specially (c) and (e) above. It is the view of a majority of the Committee however, (four members voting contrary) that your endorsement and support should be confined to those specific projects rather than addressed to the bond issue in whole.
You further ask whether it is proper for you, as Chief Judge, to sit as a member of the Bond Issue Advisory or Steering Committee, the primary responsibility of which will be to advise the public of the necessity of approving the bond issue. The participating members of the Committee are evenly divided in their response to that question. One-half of those voting are of the view that such conduct is not proscribed. The other half of the participating members view the Advisory or Steering Committee as a "political committee whose primary responsibility would be to advise the public and lobby the passage of the bond issue on all the projects included", noting that the projects "having to do with roads, streets, highways, parks and library facilities are for the benefit of the general public and always rife with political overtones."
You further ask whether it is proper for you to serve as a member of the Speaker's Committee. In keeping with the foregoing, a majority of the Committee is is of the view that there is no proscription against you sitting as a member of the Speaker's Committee so long as you confine your participation to the Satellite Courthouse and correctional facility.
Trusting that this opinion will be of guidance to you, I remain,
Tyrie A. Boyer, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Participating members: Judges Boyer, Carlisle, Haverfield, Hewitt, O'Connell, Stephenson, Turner and Samuel J. Powers, Attorney