Opinion 76-20

November 8, 1976

Re: Canon 5C

Dear Judge:

This is in response to your recent letter inquiring whether the ownership of real and personal property in partnership with another lawyer in your county is permissible under the Code of Judicial Conduct; alternatively, you inquire whether it would be permissible to place you one-half interest in trust either with your brother, your wife or some third person.

You indicate that you were recently elected to the Circuit Court Bench and are scheduled to assume office in January, 1977.

The Committee has reviewed your inquiry and a majority (7-1) is of the opinion that there is no impropriety in the retention of the partnership interest in the property, as described in your letter. The Committee, however, calls your attention to the provision of Canon 5C(1)(2) relating to the permissible financial activities of judges.

In particular, if the nature of the transaction with the lawyer-partner is a frequent occurrence and such lawyer-partner is likely to come before the court on which you serve the continued business arrangement may give rise to a conflict with Canon 5C. Moreover, The Committee cautions that it may be necessary for you to recuse yourself in any case in which your lawyer-partner is involved. In this regard your attention is invited to Canon 5C(3) and the Commentary appearing immediately after Canon 5C(6).

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


Gerald Mager

Chairman, Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges


Participating members: Boyer, Carlisle, Haverfield, Hewitt, Murphee, Stephenson and Thomas MacDonald, Esquire