Junket with representative to foreign country

March 20, 1996

Opinion 96-1


This letter is to confirm the advice given to you orally by the Secretary to the Advisory Committee.

You are the Clerk-Magistrate of the Court. You wrote the Committee on March 1, 1996 seeking the Committee's opinion on an invitation that you received from Representative 's office.

In your letter you explain that Representative has invited you, and several other individuals, on an all expense paid trip to Portugal sponsored by the Luso-American Development Foundation. The Luso-American Development Foundation was created by the Portuguese government with the express purpose of accelerating the modernization of the country's economic, social and cultural environment. The group invited on this trip includes "business people, senators, representatives, clergy, a member of the State Department of Education, a chief probation officer, a superior court clerk-magistrate and an attorney. The purpose of this trip is to enhance communications between Portugal and Portuguese-Americans."

Because you required a quick response, the Secretary to the Advisory Committee, after discussing your request with several members, called you on March 7, 1996. She informed you that, in the opinion of those members consulted, nothing in the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks would prohibit your taking the trip. She suggested you also seek the advice of the State Ethics Commission and comply with any applicable rules of the Chief Justice for Administration and Management.

The full committee has reviewed your request and confirms the advice you were given on an emergency basis. In the opinion of the members, the Canons of the Clerks' Code would not be implicated by your participation in the trip. The nature of the sponsoring organization and composition of the travelling group make it appear unlikely that the trip would either conflict with or appear to conflict with any of your official duties as Clerk-Magistrate or reflect adversely on your impartiality. Moreover, encouraging Portuguese-American students to further their education would appear to be a civic and charitable activity permitted by Canon 5(b) of the Code.

As previously conveyed to you by the Secretary, however, the Committee suggests that you also seek an opinion from the State Ethics Commission and that you abide by the provisions of the Trial Courts' "Personnel Policy and Procedures Manual".