Related to:

Opinion Opinion 2001-1

Date: 01/23/2001
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts

Continuing in certain elected, appointed, or professional positions after being appointed to fill unexpired term of Register of Probate


You have requested an advisory opinion from this Committee as to whether you may maintain certain elected, appointed or professional positions after having been appointed by the Governor to fill the unexpired term of the Elected Register of Probate.

The facts as you relate them are that you have been appointed to serve as the Register of Probate in . That term will expire in 2002. You seek a determination whether you may maintain affiliations with the following organizations:

Massachusetts Republican State Committee.
The Board of Directors for the Charter School
The Republican City Committee
The Greater Young Republican Club.
[law firm]

Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of Court states that "a Clerk/Magistrate, other than an elected Clerk/Magistrate, shall refrain from political activity..." Emphasis added. Register of Probate is an elected position. The fact that you have been appointed to fill the unexpired term of an elected official bestows upon you the benefits of an elected official for the purpose of Canon 6. Accordingly, you may engage in political activity consonant with the provisions of the Code as though you were elected ab initio.

Canon 5(B) also provides that you may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely on your impartiality or interfere with your official duties. In particular, you may serve as an officer, director, trustee, or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization, subject to the limitations set out in the rule, a copy of which is attached hereto.

Accordingly, it is our view that, subject to the requirements of the Code and Canon 5(B) in particular, you may maintain your affiliation with the Massachusetts Republican State Committee, the Board of Directors for the Charter School, the Republican City Committee and the Greater Young Republican Club.

However, you may not maintain a position with your former law firm, nor may you be listed as a partner or maintain a listing of your name in any fashion in connection with the firm. We suggest that you consult the provisions of SJC Rule 3:06 (Limited Liability Entities) and any applicable General Law as to your and the firm's obligations in maintaining its LLP status in light of your withdrawal from the firm.

We hope that this letter is of assistance to you.


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