The Supreme Judicial Court may establish a committee to render advisory opinions with respect to the interpretation of rules of court relating to the ethical and professional conduct of Clerk Magistrates, as defined in Rule 3:12. The committee shall consist of at least five persons, none of whom shall be a Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, at least one of whom shall be a currently elected Clerk Magistrate and at least one of whom shall be an appointed Clerk Magistrate. Except in emergency situations, a request for an advisory opinion must be in writing and shall be signed by the Clerk Magistrate requesting the opinion.
The request must set forth fully all facts bearing on the question or questions on which the Clerk Magistrate requests advice. The committee shall not render opinions on hypothetical questions, on issues pending before or under consideration by a judicial authority, unless that authority so requests, or by a court, agency, or commission. The committee may decline to render an opinion for any other reason which it deems sufficient.
Each opinion shall be in writing and shall contain a statement of the facts and a discussion of the application of the relevant rules to the facts. The committee shall publish its opinions, but the name of the Clerk Magistrate requesting the opinion and other identifying information shall not be included in published opinions unless the concerned Clerk Magistrate consents to such inclusion. If a Clerk Magistrate did not omit or misstate any material fact in the request for an opinion, the Clerk Magistrate may rely on the written opinion until and unless revised or revoked by the committee or this court or superseded by law. The Supreme Judicial Court will not impose sanctions in any disciplinary proceeding involving an ethical violation if the Clerk Magistrate's conduct was undertaken in reasonable reliance on an opinion issued to the Clerk Magistrate pursuant to this provision.
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