October 10, 1975
In your letter of September 4, 1975, you ask the Committee for a written opinion as to whether a circuit judge may serve as First Vice President of the "Area-Wide Council on Aging of ____
You state that one of the purposes of the Area-Wide is to raise local money for the purpose of obtaining matching Federal Grants. In this endeavor, the members of the Board of Directors and Administrative Staff appear before various bodies and organizations to raise money, goods and services for Area-Wide.
You also advise that the First Vice President is chairman of the finance committee of said organization and that this committee among other things, shall determine the financial needs of the corporation, propose its annual budget, and has general supervision of the financial matters of the corporation.
The circuit judge, however, does not and will not appear before these various clubs, nor will he solicit any money. We assume that the judge does not use the prestige of his office for the purpose above described, that is, there is no effort to exploit his judicial position.
A judge should not engage in any activity that gives the appearance to litigants, lawyers, and the public that patronizing the business in which the judge is actively involved will work to their advantage, or that a failure to patronize the said business will work to their disadvantage.
Under these conditions, a majority of the committee, with three members dissenting, are of the opinion that a circuit judge's services as First Vice President of the Area-Wide would not be inconsistent with the Code of Judicial Conduct.
In summary, a majority of the committee finds no impropriety in a circuit judge serving as First Vice President of the "Area-Wide Council on Aging of _______County, Inc." The dissents suggest that it may be difficult at times for the judge to separate the prestige of his judicial job from the fund raising activities of the organization.
We trust the above may be of some assistance to you, and with kind regards, I am
Gunter Stephenson, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct
cc: All Committee members