Opinion

Opinion CJE Opinion No. 2002-19

Date: 12/17/2002
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

After the Committee on Judicial Ethics issued this opinion, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court adopted a revised Code of Judicial Conduct. Because this opinion was rendered under a prior version of the Code, a judge should not rely on it without contacting the Committee on Judicial Ethics.

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Committee on Judicial Ethics

Table of Contents

Serving as Legislative Counsel to Municipality

The Governor has nominated you for a judgeship in a department of the Trial Court. Currently you serve as, among other things, legislative counsel to a municipality. You have informed the committee that the position of legislative counsel was created by the municipality's city code. According to your request, the city code "specifies [that] the duties of legislative counsel [are] to provide legal assistance" to the city council in a variety of areas that the code specifies. In other words, legislative counsel acts as a practicing lawyer who provides the city council with legal advice on specified subjects.

You have asked the committee whether you may continue to serve as legislative counsel after you have been confirmed and sworn in as a judge. Canon 5 (F) of the Code of Judicial Conduct states, in its entirety, that "[a] judge should not practice law." Accordingly, you may not continue to serve as legislative counsel to the city council after you are sworn in as a judge.

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