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Opinion

Opinion Opinion 99-2

Date: 05/26/1999
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts

Submitting letter of recommendation for defendant in rape of child case.

Dear:

You requested an opinion from the Committee concerning a request from a friend of yours to write a letter of recommendation for his son who is currently a defendant in a rape of a child case in Court. You believe that he intends to use this recommendation as part of a pending pre-trial plea bargaining appearance.

The Committee would point out Canon 3(A)(7) which states: 

"A Clerk-Magistrate should . . . abstain from public comment about any pending or impending proceeding in any court. . . ." Further we point out Canon 4(B) which states, "A Clerk-Magistrate shall conduct personal affairs in such a way as not to cause public disrespect for the court and the judicial system. A Clerk-Magistrate shall not engage in activities nor incur obligations which would tend to detract from the dignity of the Clerk-Magistrate's office or interfere or appear to interfere with official duty. . . ."

The Committee is concerned that the defendant's father may be trying to use your title and office to exert pressure on the court of jurisdiction, while the court is deliberating in its official capacity. In addition, the Committee would consider that action on your part, at this point in the proceedings, could or would be construed as interference with the official duty of another court. Therefore, for you to write a letter of recommendation for a defendant, while any criminal proceeding is still extant, either in your court or any other, would be a violation of the Code.

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