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Opinion

Opinion CJE Opinion No. 95-3

Date: 07/13/1995
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

The following is an archived advisory opinion of the Committee on Judicial Ethics (CJE) from the time period of 1989 through 2014, and the Code of Judicial Conduct that was in effect from October 1, 2003 to December 31, 2015. Archived advisory opinions also include the Code that was in effect through September 30, 2003. The Supreme Judicial Court adopted a new Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct, effective on January 1, 2016. A judge should not rely on any pre- 2016 CJE Advisory Opinion without contacting Supreme Judicial Court Senior Attorney Barbara F. Berenson, counsel to the Committee on Judicial Ethics, at Barbara.Berenson@jud.state.ma.us or 617- 557-1048.

Appointment to Sub-Committee of Trustees Overseeing Conflict of Interest Policy

You have asked the Committee's advice about the propriety of your service on a sub-committee of a university's board of trustees that would oversee the university's conflict of interest policy for trustees, overseers, and officers. The university has adopted a detailed written policy statement prohibiting trustees and other officers from engaging in certain transactions and activities and requiring disclosure of others. Disclosures creating significant problems are to be reviewed by the subcommittee which decides whether to recommend that the full board or executive committee vote on the matter.

Canon 5(F) provides that a "judge should not practice law." While one does not have to be a lawyer to administer a conflict of interest policy, in our view, judges who administer such policies for a university are interpreting rules so much like the legal rules that govern lawyers, judges, and government officials that their work constitutes the "practice of law" for purposes of Canon 5(F).

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