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Ethics Opinion

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May 3, 1994


    A judicial candidate who is not a sitting judge may be a member of a governmental committee pending election to judicial office.

    References: MCJC 5G, JTC A/O 96.


A candidate for judicial office, who is not currently a judge, asks whether it is ethical to continue to serve on the township downtown developmental authority while campaigning.

MCJC 5 states that "a judge shall regulate extra-judicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial duties." MCJC 5G regarding extra-judicial appointments, states:

    "A judge should not accept appointment to a governmental committee, commission, or other position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. A judge, however, may represent the country, state, or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical, educational, and cultural activities."

While referring to "judges" this Canon never refers to "judicial candidates." Similarly, JTC A/O 96 indicates that judges should not be members of a municipal downtown development authority but does not address the appropriateness of such membership by judicial candidates.

Because of expanding government functions and our heritage of participative democracy, it has been necessary to establish numerous committees, commissions, boards and authorities. Because of their experience in legal work, lawyers are well suited to serve on these bodies. MCJC 5 addresses extra-judicial activities in order to "minimize the risk of conflict." However, until the lawyer (non-judge) is elected to judicial office, there is no per se conflict.



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