Related to:

Opinion Opinion 97-7

Date: 07/10/1997
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts

Serving as member of Board of Directors of a County Bar Advocate Program


This letter is in response to your letter of April 25, 1997 in which you seek the Committee's advice as to whether you may continue as a member of the Board of Directors of the County Bar Advocates Program. You were recently appointed to the position of assistant clerk magistrate in the County Juvenile Court. In your letter, you state that your duties as a member of the Board of Directors include appointing bar advocates in the District Court, developing educational programs for bar advocates, and handling problems that arise with bar advocates in the performance of their work.

It is the Committee's opinion that your serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the County Bar Advocates Program would conflict with the provision in Canon 5(B)(1) which states as follows: "(1) A Clerk-Magistrate shall not participate [in a civic or charitable activity] if there is a substantial likelihood that the organization, or a significant number of members of the organization, will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the Clerk-Magistrate or the court in which the Clerk-Magistrate serves."

In the view of the Committee, it is likely that members of the bar advocate program would regularly be engaged in Juvenile as well as District Court proceedings. Therefore, your continued service on the Board would be impermissible under the Code.


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