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Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts
Dear First Assistant Clerk __________:
This letter is in response to your correspondence dated March 6, 2015, seeking an advisory opinion relative to this Committee’s interpretation of the new Superior Court Rules Governing Persons Authorized To Admit To Bail Out of Court, which took effect July 1, 2014. You indicate that you are an assistant clerk-magistrate of the ______________ Court, who also performs the duties of bail magistrate after court hours. In particular, you are inquiring about whether failure to comply with the requirements of Rule 40 and Rule 42 would constitute an unethical act.
The Committee must advise you that it is only empowered and charged with interpreting Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:12, the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Courts. Therefore, we are unable to provide you with an opinion concerning the interpretation of the Superior Court Rules for Bail. With respect to the Code of Professional Responsibility, however, the Committee directs your attention to the following provisions which address in part the ethical and professional conduct of Clerk-Magistrates:
Canon 2, Compliance with Statutes and Rules of the Court, states: “A Clerk-Magistrate shall comply with the laws of the Commonwealth, rules of the court, and lawful directives of the several judicial authorities of the Commonwealth.”
Canon 3, Performance of Duties, states in Section (A) (5) that: “A Clerk-Magistrate should diligently carry out his or her responsibilities and should dispose of them promptly."
We hope that this letter is of assistance to you.
Christine P. Burak, Esq.
Secretary, Advisory Committee on Ethical Opinions