Related to:

Opinion Opinion 90-5

Date: 10/09/1990
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts

CASA Volunteer/guardian ad litem in Juvenile Court.

Dear Clerk:

In your letter of October 9., 1990, you request an advisory opinion of this Committee concerning whether you may, consistent with the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of Court, serve as a volunteer for an organization known as CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). You have indicated that CASA provides trained persons to the Juvenile Court for appointment as guardians ad litem. The guardians investigate matters and make written recommendations to the Court with respect to the particular case. The written material you have submitted indicates that the role of a CASA volunteer is to act as a guardian ad litem and may include testifying in court. (Your letter indicates, however, that the Project Director appears in court to present the guardian's written findings and recommendations.)

Canon 5(D) of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of Court prohibits a Clerk-Magistrate from serving as a guardian except for a member of his or her family, as that term is further defined. This Canon prohibits you from volunteer activities for CASA which involve accepting an appointment as a guardian.

The Committee notes, however, that Canon 5(B) provides that a Clerk-Magistrate may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely on the Clerk-Magistrate's impartiality or interfere with the performance of his or her duties, and subject to the further limitations set forth in Canon 5 (B)(1) and (2). A copy of Canon 5(B) is attached for your convenience. Such volunteer activities for CASA, including training, managerial activities and fund-raising, as are within the restrictions of Canon 5(B) would not be prohibited by the Code.


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