Related to:

Opinion Opinion 94-9

Date: 07/26/1994
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts

Consulting work on federal projects


This letter is to confirm the advice which you were provided by telephone on an emergency basis by the Secretary of the Advisory Committee on Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts. You telephoned the Secretary on June 24, 1994 requesting advice on an emergency basis regarding whether your acceptance of a consulting position at would conflict with the performance of your duties as Clerk-Magistrate of the District Court.

In a follow up letter sent via fax on June 28, 1994, you indicated that the consulting work would be on some federal projects and that "if there was ever a need for litigation it would be done in federal court." You further indicated that "It [the work] would probably take two days a month which I would take vacation time for." A proposed statement of work, which lists the tasks you would be expected to work on at accompanied your letter. The listed tasks relate to planning, business development, contract and procurement document review, and providing advice concerning the organization and characteristics of various federal agencies.

As provided in the Committee's rule on emergency advice, the Secretary consulted several members of the Committee and advised you by telephone on June 30, 1994 that, in the view of the members consulted, your performing the consulting work would not conflict with the provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Courts, provided you do not use court time or resources and do not use your court title to promote business.

By this letter the Advisory Committee confirms the advice you were given on an emergency basis. It is the Committee's opinion that your participation in such a consulting arrangement, provided that you do not use court time or resources, would not be in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility's provisions in Canon 5, Outside Activities. However, the Committee would like to draw your attention to subsection 5(C)2 of that Canon, which refers to Canon 4(C) which provides in part: "A Clerk-Magistrate shall not use the influence of the office to promote his or her business interests or those of others." It is the Committee's view that this provision would preclude you from using your title as Clerk-Magistrate on any letterheads, business cards or brochures used in your consulting position.


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