This page, Clerks' Ethics Subject Index of Opinions, is offered by

Guide Clerks' Ethics Subject Index of Opinions

The Advisory Committee on Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts provides advisory opinions to Clerks, Registers and their assistants, with respect to the rules of court that govern the ethical and professional conduct of clerks.

Table of Contents

1. Serving as a fiduciary

10-1     Serving as trustee of a testamentary trust

04-1     Serving as executor for non-relative

98-6     Serving as elected library trustee.

97-5     Serving as trustee of two nominee trusts; conservator and executor.

95-3     Serving as fiduciary for long term friend.

92-6     Serving as executrix for estate of non family member.

92-1     Acting as administrator of estate for deceased ward.

91-1     Serving as fiduciary for college roommate; definition of "close familial relationship."

90-4     Acting as guardian for non-family member.

2. Involvement in the practice of law

21-3     Involvement in the Practice of Law after Leaving Office

21-2     Involvement in the Practice of Law

20-4     Receiving referral fees arising from causes of action brought before being sworn in as Clerk-Magistrate     

13-3     Working nights and weekends to complete real estate closings after becoming Assistant Clerk

06-5     Conflict - married to Assistant DA and relationship by marriage to police officer in court's jurisdiction

02-2     Appearing pro se before Zoning Board and on appeal Superior Court, Land Court, Appeals Court, or Supreme Judicial Court.

99-5     Serving as Major in the Judge Advocate General's Corps., U.S. Army Reserve.

97-5     Serving as escrow agent in a Superior Court Action on behalf of "client."

96-2     Issues involved in winding up law practice.

95-7     Entering practice of law after leaving office; taking leave of absence to practice law.

95-6     Being asked for assistance in context of employment.

92-6     Receiving referral fees arising from causes of action brought before being sworn in.

91-5     Performing legal research for law firm while on furlough or authorized vacation.

3. Involvement in Alternative Dispute Resolution

98-7     Part-time employment as mediator.

96-6     Performing mediation or arbitration services for MCAD.

94-10     Arbitrator for American Registry of Arbitrators.

94-1     Engaging in for-profit mediation business.

92-7     Unpaid, volunteer work in connection with private dispute resolution business.

91-4     Case evaluator for ADR project for contested divorce cases.

4. Campaigning for self and others

20-2     A Case Coordinator/Deputy Assistant Register would like to run for the position of Register of Probate while continuing employment in the same court

19-2     Running for Register of Probate while continuing employment as Deputy Assistant Register in the same court

14-3     Running for District Attorney; Leave of Absence.

12-4     Running for office of Clerk without leave of absence from Acting Clerk position

12-3     Assistant Clerk running for clerk's position without a leave of absence

08-1     Running for Register of Probate in same office where employed as Assistant Register without taking leave of absence

06-3     Continuing employment as assistant clerk if candidate for position of clerk

01-3     Continuing employment as First Assistant Register of Probate upon becoming a candidate for Register of Probate in same court.

00-8     Running for Register of Probate, now employed as Assistant Clerk in different court department in different county.

00-6     Running for Clerk of Court; leave of absence.

00-5     Limits on political activities when spouse runs for state representative.

00-3     Running for Register of Probate while continuing employment as First Assistant Register.

00-2     Running for of Clerk_Magistrate of Superior Court; restrictions on activities as Assistant Clerk, taking leave of absence; bail responsibilities.

97-2     Providing endorsement to candidate for Register of Probate.

97-1     Acceptance of campaign contribution from litigant while running for position of Register of Probate.

96-5     Serving on committee to elect Register of Probate.

95-8     Running for of Register of Probate.

95-5     Running for Register of Probate without taking unpaid leave.

94-7     Taking leave of absence to run for position of Clerk of Courts.

94-3     Solicitation of funds to run for position of Clerk of Courts.

92-3     Involvement with sibling's campaign for position of town clerk.

5. Political activities

17-1   Attendance at Women's March

16-2     Endorsement; Comments in Online Publication

12-2     Clerk-magistrate's attendance at a political event

11-1     Attending brother's campaign kickoff event in another state   

10-4     Spouse wishes to put up political sign on lawn displaying name of candidate for state representative

08-2     Running for election to city council or school committee

07-4     Whether Code applies to Assistant Case Manager in Probate and Family Court

06-1     Attendance at mayor's inaugural ball

04-4     Attending political fundraiser

03-9     Volunteering for Boston 2004, host for Democratic National Convention

03-6     Attending testimonial dinner to honor state representative

03-5     Attending dinner dance for recently elected state representative

03-1     Attendance at governor's inauguration

02-1     Attendance at political fundraiser.

01-1     Serving on political committee after being appointed to fill unexpired term of Register of Probate.

00-1     Performing as master of ceremonies for mayoral inauguration.

99-6     Serving as elected member of City Council.

98-3     Political activities by self and family members.

96-4     Spouse making political contributions from joint account; attendance at political functions as "private citizen" with or without spouse.

96-3     Serving as member of ward committee; conflict with spouse's duties as constable.

95-4     Attendance at private dinner with Lt. Governor.

94-13   Serving as City Councilor and being elected for Clerk-Magistrate.

94-4     Attending political fund-raising event.

94-3     Solicitation of funds to run for Clerk of Courts.

90-1     Membership in political committee.

90-3     Holding of sign for candidate.

6. Board Memberships

20-3     Serving on a Board involving youth who come to the Court

15-5      Serving on Board and as President of Non-Profit Corporation; Fundraising for Charity

15-4      Serving on family charity

13-8      Sitting as a director on Board of Directors for a national non-profit organization

12-1     Assistant clerk serving as member of board of directors of a credit union

03-8     Serving on town Zoning Board of Appeals

01-1     Serving on board of directors for charter school after being appointed to fill unexpired term of Register of Probate.

00-4     Serving as Director of Bank, not within jurisdiction of court; taking leave of absence.

99-4     Serving on Board of Directors for consortium that is responsible for a shelter for the homeless and a shelter for battered women.

97-8     Serving on Board of Directors of Metropolitan District Corporation.

97-7     Serving as member of Board of Directors of a County Bar Advocate Program

95-2     Serving as Board Member of Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts.

94-12   Serving as Co-Chair of Annual Fund and on board of Directors for YMCA.

94-5     Serving as a director on Board of Advisors of non-profit rehabilitation facility.

92-6     Serving as member and chairman of board of Examiners for a City.

91-2     Serving on board of organization that regularly files actions in Clerk-Magistrate's court.

7. Civic Activities

20-1 An Assistant Clerk Magistrate asking to swear in the head of the City Council in the city where the court is located

19-6   Clerk serving on a Committee that raises funds for legal service organization

19-3    Inquiring whether it is appropriate to continue to serve as a member of a charitable organization while serving as an Assistant Clerk Magistrate in the same jurisdiction

18-4     Inquiring whether it is appropriate to continue to serve as Chair of the Parade Committee

18-3     Answering inquiries from U.S. Attorney's Office based on past service on civilian oversight board

17-5     Serving on board of Massachusetts Guardianship Association

15-7     Acting as Master of Ceremonies at Court's Law Day Celebration

14-1     Serving as elected school committee member Serving as County Bar Advocates member

13-4     Serving as chairperson of fund-raising event

10-3     Serving as president of civic association

09-3     Receiving an award and fundraising

06-4     Becoming trustee for charter school outside jurisdiction

03-3     Serving as member of school council

01-2     Serving on law enforcement advisory board which provides advice regarding distribution of federal block grant money for police department.

00-7     Serving on finance committee of town within jurisdictional area of court.

99-6     Serving as elected member of city council.

98-8     Accepting funds from law firms and merchants, placing them in non-interest bearing account in clerk's name, and disbursing the funds to underwrite prizes for student participants in court's annual Law Day program.

98-6     Serving as elected library trustee and Clerk in District Court.

98-5     Serving as elected town meeting member.

97-5     Serving as unpaid member of Town Zoning Board of Appeals; Southeastern Regional Transit Authority Advisory Board; representative of Town and Secretary of Southeastern Transit Authority Pension Fund.

97-3     Serving as Town Meeting member.

96-8     Appointment to local Human Rights Commission.

96-7     Testifying before Governor's Council on behalf of judicial nominee.

95-1     Serving on local Personnel Board.

94-12   Serving as Co-Chair of Annual Fund and on Board of Directors for YMCA.

94-2     Serving as Town Meeting Member.

93-1     Serving as member of city's election commission.

92-2     Serving as President of booster Club for a high school.

91-7     Serving as Town Meeting Member.

8. Outside employment/business/commercial activities

21-1    Serving as Town Treasurer

17-2    Partial ownership of seasonal restaurant business

16-3    Serving as real estate broker for third parties

14-2     Obtaining broker's license for purpose of buying own home

13-5     Assistant Clerk owns office building through realty trust and two lawyers are tenants; buys and sells property

13-1     Accepting paid part-time work for the city

12-5     Fundraiser to benefit ill attorney with a jewelry party - a small business venture of the Assistant Clerk

09-1     Concerning part-time employment in auto dealership

06-2     Serving as reserve police officer while 1st assistant clerk

05-4     Bail setting in the evening at police station in town where clerk resides

05-2     Labor negotiator for a town

99-3     Appointment as a corporator for savings bank located in Massachusetts.

96-2     Issues involved in winding up law practice.

94-11   Association as independent income tax preparer with CPA.

94-10   Serving as arbitrator for American Registry of Arbitrators.

94-9     Consulting work on federal projects.

92-8     Contacting attorneys to advertise preparation of tax returns.

92-5     Additional, more detailed discussion of issues raised in #92-4, below.

92-4     Stockholder, director, treasurer, clerks and receiving a salary and/or unearned income from a corporation established to provide a private court system in Massachusetts.

91-6     Renting of summer home to attorneys who appear in Clerk-Magistrate's court.

91-3     Reviewing of entry and sale documents for foreclosure proceedings.

9. Volunteer work

15-5     Serving on Board and as President of Non-Profit Corporation; Fundraising for Charity

15-4     Fundraising for charity 

13-7     Charitable fundraising

06-6     Eucharist ministry for prisoners at county correctional facility

05-1     Fundraising for not-for-profit organization

94-8     Fund-raising for alumnae association.

92-9     Volunteering on the Regional Advisory Council of the **** Partnership to Reduce Drug Abuse.

92-7     Unpaid volunteer work in connection with private dispute resolution business.

10. Recusal issues

19-5 Appointed Clerk-Magistrate Hearing Cases Brought by an Attorney who is also a Close Friend

19-4  Newly Appointed Clerk Magistrate Hearing Cases Brought by Police Department where Clerk used to Work

19-1   First Assistant Clerk-Magistrate's serving as an after-hours Bail Magistrate in county where spouse is an Assistant District Attorney

18-1   Assistant Clerk's conflict with spouse's duties as Assistant District Attorney

17-4   Assistant clerk married to lawyer who appears in court where clerk works

17-3   Conflict with spouse who is a CPCS attorney assigned to Clerk's court

15-6     Handling duties of session clerk in matters involving brother's company

14-4     Jury empanelment in case where father represents co-defendant

13-7     Handling cases involving former clients; father practices as criminal defense attorney in same county

13-2     Newly appointed Assistant Clerk-Magistrate married to attorney with active practice in her jurisdiction. It is appropriate for her to exercise magisterial functions in matters involving spouse?

07-3     Assistant Clerk has two adult children police officers in clerk's jurisdiction

07-1     Conflict with cases filed in Superior Court and cases that involve the city

06-5     Transitioning from law practice

97-6     Testifying on Behalf of an Attorney Before the Board of Bar Overseers

96-3     Conflict with spouse's duties as constable.

90-2     Recusal of Clerk-Magistrates.

11. Court appointments

09-2     Assistant Clerk serving as Deputy Sheriff

99-3     Appointment as corporator for savings bank located in Massachusetts.

98-1     Appointment as Special Sheriff by County Sheriff.

90-5     CASA Volunteer/guardian ad litem guardian in Juvenile Court.

12. Bar Association Activities

16-1     Bar Association Activities

10-2     Serving on council of local bar association

03-7     Participation in course offered by Committee for Public Counsel Services

03-4     Resuming practice of law after retirement

96-2     Remaining active in bar association.

94-6     Serving on executive committee and a treasurer of bar association.

13. Practice of law within context of employment as court clerk or Register of Probate

01-1     Maintaining position in law firm after being appointed Register of Probate to fill unexpired term.

95-6     Court clerks being asked for assistance in the context of their jobs and the practice of law

14. Miscellaneous

18-5     Inquiring whether it is appropriate to establish a GoFundMe fund to support a personal cause of a Clerk-Magistrate

18-2     Non-political fundraiser attendance and donation

17-6     Serving as Notary Public

16-2     Endorsement; Comments in Online Publication

15-3     Persons authorized to admit to bail out of court

15-2     Serving on Judicial Nominating Counsel

15-1     Participation in training program for trial lawyers

14-5     Restrictions on post-retirement employment before retiring

13-6     Submitting letter of recommendation for court officer in disciplinary hearing

12-6     Is it appropriate to sell tickets to a retirement party before employee leaves job?

08-4     Letter of recommendation to U.S. Immigration Court

08-3     Establishment of Legal Defense Fund for Criminal Investigation of Occurrence in Courthouse

07-2     Writing character reference letter on behalf of employee in connection with disciplinary proceedings in a different court

05-3     Romantic relationship of clerk with attorney with active practice in same court

04-3     Lawyer spouse appearing in same jurisdiction

04-2     Attending Law Day dinner as guest of dean

03-10   Clerk nominee married to police sergeant in same jurisdiction

03-2     Accepting appointment to Judicial Nominating Council

99-2     Submitting letter of recommendation on behalf of defendant in child rape case.

99-1     Accepting unsolicited donation on behalf of children's education from memorial fund in memory of deceased husband.

98-9     Attendance at out of state ceremony to introduce judge nominated for award from the Foundation for Improvement of Justice; Foundation to pay for air fare, hotel and banquet meal.

98-4     Participation in program to orient nurses to serve on med-mal tribunals, receipt of travel costs and $50 honorarium.

98-2     Unsolicited contribution by law firm to charity in clerk's name.

97-6     Testifying on Behalf of an Attorney Before the Board of Bar Overseers

97-4     Participation in seminar and receiving "minimal fee."

96-1     Junket with representative to foreign country.