Meeting of Bar Association Officials with Governor's Councilors and Judicial Nominating Committee
January 21, 2016
Dear First Assistant Clerk ________:
This is in response to your email request of December 15, 2015. You are the First Assistant Clerk of the ___________ Court. You are also a member of the _________ County Bar Association Executive Committee. As a member of that bar association executive committee, you were invited to attend a meeting with an official from the Judicial Nominating Committee and a Governor's Councilor to discuss any issues or topics that your bar association wished to address. In addition, you were invited to lunch with those who were at the meeting and with the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel. You asked whether your attendance at the meeting would be consistent with the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Courts. Because the meeting would be held on December 18, 2015, you requested advice on an emergency basis.
On December 17, 2015, the Secretary of the Advisory Committee on Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts called to inform you that in the view of the members she contacted, your attendance at the meeting is permissible under the Code. This letter is to confirm the advice you were given on an emergency basis.
It is the view of the Committee that several canons of the Code support your attendance at the meeting. Canon 4(D) provides that a "Clerk-Magistrate may use his or her title to engage in activity to improve the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. A Clerk-Magistrate may appear at public hearings and may otherwise consult with governmental bodies or officials on such matters." Canon 5(B) provides that a "Clerk-Magistrate may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely on the Clerk-Magistrate's impartiality or interfere with the performance of his or her official duties . . . ." The Committee believes that a meeting of bar association officials and Governor's Councilors and Judicial Nominating Committee officials to discuss topics relevant to the bar association is the type of activity to improve the law, legal system, or administration of justice contemplated by Canon 4(D). For this reason, your attendance at such a meeting to discuss the business of the bar association is permissible under the Code.
Christine P. Burak, Esq.
Secretary, Advisory Committee on Ethical Opinions