February 12, 1986
Opinion No. 86/1
You inquire as to whether the Code of Judicial Conduct has application to the anticipated sale of your former law office building and lot to the county in which you preside as a judge. The committee has issued several opinions concerning the use and sale of property by judges (for example, see 85/16 and 85/8). The primary consideration is that you avoid financial dealings reflecting adversely on your impartiality, or that involve you in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before you. You should also manage your investments so as to avoid the number of cases in which you are disqualified (See Canon 5C).
The committee members unanimously agree that you are not prohibited from selling your property to the county provided you observe the requirements usually occasioned in such transactions by judges. You should be circumspect during the period of negotiations regarding the handling of cases in which the county has an interest. Additionally, you should be less than aggressive in your effort to obtain favorable terms.
Three members suggest that you proceed on the basis of a competent MAI appraisal. One member cautions that in any event the sale is likely to be mentioned by your local news media. On the other hand, still another member believes that you are not prohibited from seeking the best possible terms from an arms length open negotiation.
In summation, you should act reasonably to reduce the possibility that someone might claim favoritism of one sort or the other.
With regards, sincerely,
Oliver L. Green, Jr.
cc: All Committee Members