November 12, 1974
Re: Canon 5
Re: Standards of Judicial Conduct
In your letter of October 29, 1974, you stated you hold a one-eighth interest
in the tract of waterfront property in County which you inherited from your
father. Further, you state that in order to develop the property for its
highest and best use, that it may be necessary for litigation to be instituted
by you and the other ten or eleven owners. This litigation apparently would
be in the Judicial Circuit, and not in your jurisdiction.
Your question was: Does the Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct find
anything impermissible in your proceeding with the litigation along with
the other owners.
It is the opinion of this Committee that there is no impropriety on your
part in obtaining a legal solution concerning your interest in the real
property that may become involved in litigation.
The restrictions placed upon a judicial office holder by the Code of Judicial
Conduct were never intended to divest a judge of his right to be involved
in investment opportunities so long as they do not interfere or conflict
with the performance of his judicial duties. Any other interpretation of
the judicial position and the restrictions thereon would not only penalize
an individual holding judicial office, but would fail to recognize the economics
of judicial service which necessitate some degree of involvement in income
producing activities. Owning and receiving income from investments do not,
per se, affect the performance of a judge's duties.
The Committee sees nothing in the facts outlined by you that would interfere
or conflict with your duties or the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Committee
appreciates the opportunity of furnishing you this opinion.
/s/GUNTER STEPHENSON, as Chairman
Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct
cc: all members