January 20, 1989

The Ethics Advisory Committee has been asked for its opinion on the question or whether the Code of Conduct permits a Justice of the Peace to serve as a member of a local Youth Coordinating Council (YCC). It is the committee's opinion that the answer is yes, unless the Justice of the Peace is involved in fund-raising for the organization or permits the use of the judicial office for that purpose. The purpose of the YCC is to help young people refrain from the use of drugs and alcohol. Financing for the group is provided by a federal grant. The Justice of the Peace would like to serve as a member of the group but does not intend to hold office.

Justices of the Peace are considered "part-time judges" as defined by Utah's Code of Judicial Conduct. Such judges are not required to comply with Canons 4B, 5D, 5E and 5F of the Code but are required to comply with the remaining provisions.

Canon 5 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides: "A judge should regulate extra-judicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial duties." Canon 5B further states:

Civic and Charitable Activities. A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties. A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee, or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members. subject to the following limitations:

(1) A judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge or will be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.

(2) A judge should not solicit funds for any . . . .charitable . . . or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of the judicial office for that purpose, but may be listed as an officer, director, or trustee of such an organization. A judge should not be the speaker or the guest of honor at an organization's fund-raising events, but may attend such events. A judge should be especially sensitive to the potential conflicts which may result from serving in positions of responsibility in such organizations while carrying out judicial duties and limit the judge's duties in the area of solicitation of funds for the organization

In Advisory Opinion No. 40, the Federal Advisory Committee on Judicial Activities explained that, although Canon 5B is limited by its terms to service as an "officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor", in the committee's opinion. "the same considerations are applicable to and govern membership in such organizations." There is no indication that the Justice's membership on the YCC would in any way interfere with the performance of judicial duties. Nor is there any indication that this is the type of organization contemplated in 5B(1) that would be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge.

Finally, because the YCC is funded by a federal grant, there is no indication that the judge would be involved in fund-raising efforts. Accordingly, there is no apparent conflict with Canon 5B(2). This committee has previously quoted favorably from the ABA Commentary to Canon 5 acknowledging that [c]omplete separation of a judge from extra-judicial activities is neither possible nor wise; he should not become isolated from the society in which he lives." Informal Opinion No. 88-4. Due, however, to the changing nature of organizations, the ABA Commentary to 5B recommends that a judge regularly reexamine the activities of the organizations with which he is affiliated to determine if it is proper for him to continue his relationship with it.

The Federal Advisory Committee on Judicial Activities has considered this issue in several advisory opinions. The Committee has concluded that a judge is permitted to serve on the Board of Directors of such groups as the Salvation Army, or the Red Cross. Advisory Opinion No. 2: on the managing board of a religious, fraternal or charitable corporation. Advisory Opinion No. 12. and on the board of a hospital. Advisory Opinion No. 28. Service in these positions is permitted as long as the judge's charitable and civic work does not interfere with the performance of his/her judicial duties: and as long as he/she did not engage in the solicitation of funds or permit the use of his/her name or office for that purpose. In this particular instance, the committee recommends that the justice continually reassess his position on the committee to ensure that the policies and objectives of the committee do not interfere with the justice's ability to give impartial consideration to those cases before him which involve trafficking in or use of alcohol and drugs. If the justice senses a public expectation of a particular disposition in these cases because of his committee involvement. such an expectation may interfere with the proper exercise of his judicial duties and require his resignation from the committee. In conclusion, it is the committee's opinion that as long as the Justice's membership on the YCC will not involve fund-raising or interfere with the performance of his judicial duties. and where the organization is not likely to be engaged in proceedings which ordinarily come before the judge, membership in the organization does not violate the Code of Judicial Conduct.