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Opinion

Opinion Opinion 98-7

Date: 07/01/1998
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts

Part-time employment as mediator, either self-employed or through a dispute resolution firm.

Dear:

You have requested an advisory opinion from this Committee as to whether you may accept part-time employment as a mediator, either on a self-employed basis or through a dispute resolution firm such as the American Arbitration Association. You are presently an assistant clerk-magistrate with the Court.

It is the view of the Committee that your part-time employment as a mediator would violate the Code. The Committee has been asked to address this question in past years. Please see copies of Op. 94-1 , 92-5 , 92-4 and 91-4 . The Committee has determined that engaging in the activities as proposed would violate the provisions of Canons 4 (c) and 5 (a) and (c)(1) of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of Court. Canon 4 states that a clerk-magistrate "shall perform the duties of Clerk-Magistrate impartially and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judicial branch of government." Canon 5 governs outside activities of clerk-magistrates. Canon 5(a) states that a clerk-magistrate "should not engage in activities which might . . . interfere with the performance of the duties of the office."

Canon 5 (c)(1) states that a clerk-magistrate "shall not conduct outside business activities in the courthouse at any time, nor shall a clerk-magistrate conduct any outside business activities anywhere during normal business hours."

As stated in the prior opinions, neither the time nor locality of the services would alter the concern that such business operations would have an adverse effect upon the dignity of the clerk-magistrate's office and the public's perception of one's impartiality and proper performance of duties.

We hope that this letter is of assistance to you.

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