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Opinion 105

The Atlanta Crime Commission has undertaken study of the Atlanta Municipal Court, and the Chief Judge has asked for an Advisory Opinion as to whether his participation on an advisory board formed to review the study design and methodology and to provide input and advice throughout the project would violate any of the canons concerning judges being in public controversy.

Canon 3 expressly authorizes Judges to engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice, subject only to the proper performance of their judicial duties and, unless in doing so, they cast doubt on their capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before them. Commentary [1] following Rule 3.7 states as follows:

“To the extent that time permits, and judicial independence and impartiality are not compromised, judges are encouraged to engage in appropriate law-related activities. As a judicial officer and person specially learned in the law, a judge is in a unique position to contribute to the improvement of the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, including revision of substantive and procedural law and improvement of criminal and juvenile justice, either independently or through a bar association, judicial conference, or other organization dedicated to such improvements.”

For that reason, the question should be answered in the negative unless participation by the judge interferes with the proper performance of his judicial duties or is such as to cast doubt on his capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before him.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Canon 1, Rules 1.2(B), 2.8, 3.4, 3.7(A)(2), 3.7(B). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #18, #38, #57, #103, #115, #125, #158, #161, #174, #176, #178, #190, #194.]

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