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Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts
Dear First Assistant Clerk:
This is in response to your letter of April 16, 2003 seeking guidance from the Committee. Your letter states that after 33 years as an Assistant Clerk Magistrate at the District Court you will be retired on June 30, 2003. You would like to resume the practice of law after your retirement and inquire about any restrictions or limitations under the "canons or otherwise" that pertain to your practicing law, performing alternative dispute resolution or "any other business or professional pursuits".
The Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Courts defines the norms of conduct and practice for those persons who are serving in the positions covered by the Code. In only one instance do its provisions extend beyond a Clerk's tenure in the judicial branch. Canon 9 provides that:
A Clerk-Magistrate who has retired or resigned from the judicial branch shall not perform court-connected dispute resolution services except on a pro bono publico basis in any court of the Commonwealth for a period of six months following the date of retirement or resignation.
With the exception of the six month waiting period established in this Canon, the provisions of the Code would not restrict or limit your business or professional pursuits after your retirement.
We note that the Committee is authorized only to render opinions on the interpretation of the provisions of the Clerks' Code. The Conflict of Interest Law is also relevant to post employment issues for employees in the public sector, and you should consult with the State Ethics Commission to learn about any restrictions or limitations on your post retirement activities that are imposed by that law.