Attendance at out of state ceremony to introduce judge nominated for an Award from the Foundation for Improvement of Justice; Foundation to pay for air fare, hotel and banquet meal.

November 17, 1998

Opinion 98-9


In your letter to the Committee dated August 7, 1998, you requested the Committee's opinion as to whether the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of Court permitted your attendance at a banquet ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia. You would be introducing   whom you personally nominated for an Award from the Foundation for Improvement of Justice, Inc. You explained that the Foundation would pay for your air fare, one night stay at a hotel and the banquet meal. The Committee Chairman telephoned you with the Committee's response. The Committee is of the opinion that the Code does not prohibit your attendance at the banquet as a guest of the Foundation.

After full discussion by the Committee's members this written response confirms the oral response and adds a cautionary warning. The Committee considered the portion of the Code that encourages Clerks to participate in civic activities, as long as such participation does not reflect adversely on the Clerk-Magistrate's impartiality or interfere with the performance of his or her official duties. See Canon 5(B). It is important that you not permit an inference to arise in the future that, because of your relationship with Judge , you are in a position to influence a future matter before the court. Canon 4 deals with Impartiality and Disqualification. This Canon requires the Clerk to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judicial Branch.

In all future dealings with Judge , you should be careful to avoid situations which might give rise to the impression of bias in your relationship.