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Opinion

Opinion Opinion 99-5

Date: 12/01/1999
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts

Serving as Major in the Judge Advocate General's Corps., U.S. Army reserve.

Dear:

This is in response to your letter to the Committee dated October 19, 1999 requesting an opinion. The members considered your request at a recent meeting and concluded as follows:

Your concern is that of an employer, who has a strong candidate for a position of Assistant Clerk who is a Major in the Judge Advocate General's Corps., U.S. Army Reserve. The facts you have provided indicate that this applicant "is the legal adviser to the commander and provides legal advice and opinions on issues that affect mission readiness for the unit and that impact on the daily operations of the unit." Your question asks whether G. L. c. 211A, § 6, which prohibits assistant clerks from engaging in the practice of law, precludes an Assistant Clerk of Court from actively serving as a Judge Advocate? Since it is the Committee's role to interpret the Clerks' Code of Professional Responsibility we will provide our answer based on Canon 3 of the Code which states that "A Clerk Magistrate shall not engage in the practice of law."

Your description of providing legal advice and opinions has brought the Committee to the conclusion that the applicant is indeed engaging in the practice of law. Assuming that this candidate is indeed practicing law, the Committee is of the opinion that Canon 3 of the Clerks' Code of Professional Responsibility prohibits this person from serving as an Assistant Clerk so long as he serves in his current position with the Army Reserve

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