State Bar of Michigan
home member area contact us


ethics



 print this page


for members
SBM general information

member directory

admissions, ethics, and
   regulation


diversity & inclusion

justice initiatives

member services

practice management
   resource center


public policy resource
   center


publications and
   advertising


research and links

sections & committees


ethics for members
ethics developments
ethics opinions
TAON (trust accounts)


from the courts
opinion searching
virtual court


for the public
public resources
media resources


giving opportunities
a lawyer helps
access to justice
   campaign

Ethics Opinion

print this page

JI-25

May 25, 1990

SYLLABUS

    Displaying artwork or other products in a courthouse or courtroom at no charge does not violate judicial ethics, and a judge is not disqualified from presiding over a case involving the donor-lender-benefactor.

    References: MCJC 2A, 5C(4).

TEXT

A merchant in a community conducts a contest from time to time, soliciting the participation of local students and local youth for innovation of design and the exhibition of their particular talent. The merchant has requested permission to display the works of the participants in the court building. Neither the merchant nor the artist has cases pending in the court at the time of the donation. There is a liability agreement to cover any damage which the artwork may suffer while on display, but otherwise the display is provided without charge.

A judge asks whether certain carpets, sculptures, wall hangings, etc., provided to the court building without charge through these expositions would cause a disqualification to the judge on any matters which the donor-lender-benefactor has pending in that particular court, especially if the display appears in that courtroom.

MCJC 2A prohibits a judge from appearances of impropriety or other conduct which would cast doubt on the judge's impartiality. Most, if not all, judges accept contributions from lawyers for their election campaigns. Many courts provide a lawyer's lounge, the furnishings for which have been supplied by the local bar association or local attorneys, without any suggestion that a judge be disqualified. The judge's impartiality would not be any more affected by permitting artistic work to be displayed about the courthouse and the courtrooms. MCJC 5C (4) prohibits the judge from personally receiving gifts under various circumstances. However, in this case the donation is to the local government entity, and not to the judge.

The liability agreement between the donor and the governmental agency which controls the courthouse does not in any way involve the judge financially or personally in any decision-making process regarding the arrangement or the display itself, such as would render the judge unable to adjudicate a matter in which the donor-lender-benefactor is a party.

 
     

 

follow us
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on LinkedIn Follow Us on Twitter Follow the SBM Blog

 

©Copyright 2014

website links
Contact Us
Site Map
Website Privacy Statement PDF
Staff Links

SBM on the Mapcontact information
State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St
Lansing, MI 48933-2012
Phone: (517) 346-6300
Toll Free: (800) 968-1442
Fax: (517) 482-6248