Serving on Council of Local Bar Association

March 31, 2010

Opinion 2010-2

Dear Assistant Clerk:

This is in response to your letter of March 11, 2010 requesting an opinion from the committee. You are an assistant clerk magistrate for the ________County Superior Court and have been invited to serve on the Council of a local bar association that is located in the same county as the court where you work. You understand that the Council serves as a conduit for the exchange of information between the members of the bar association and the courts. The Council is responsible for education and communication of information, and you would be its liaison to the Superior Court.

In the view of the committee, your service on the Council is permissible under the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Courts. Canon 4(D) of the Code allows a Clerk-Magistrate to engage in activity to improve the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice, and we view the activities of the Council as falling within the scope of this canon. Canon 5 does not prohibit such activity. As you noted in your letter, our Opinion No. 94-6 supports this conclusion. In that opinion, we found that neither Canon 5(B)(1) [which restricts participation in civic or charitable activities if an organization or a significant number of its members will be engaged in proceedings that would come before the court] nor Canon 5(D)(1) [which governs a Clerk's serving as a fiduciary] prohibited the Clerk's involvement with the bar association. As was the case in Opinion No. 94-6 , because Canon 4(D) explicitly permits activities to improve the law and the legal system and because your service on the Council will not impede your ability to function in an impartial manner in your role of assistant clerk, your service on the Council is permissible under the Code.

Should any particular activity of the Council, the bar association or its members present a conflict with your duties as assistant clerk, you should consult and comply with the provisions of Canon 4(E) regarding disqualification.