Opinion 110

An Advisory Opinion has been requested as to whether it will be appropriate for a judge to participate in a proposed educational TV documentary on sports, athletics, and drug and alcohol abuse, particularly at the high school level. The program is to be funded by the State Department of Education.

A segment of the program will deal with a former outstanding high school athlete who has committed several criminal offenses and is now incarcerated under a sentence imposed by the judge. Time for appeal has passed and there are now no other matters with reference to the case pending before the court.

It is proposed to interview the judge on the general problem of alcohol and drug abuse by high school athletes and resulting problems for the courts and specifically to interview him about this particular athlete and the number of opportunities he had prior to his present incarceration.

In Opinion No. 60, this Commission has emphasized the fact that Rule 2.10(A) prohibits a judge from commenting on any proceeding pending or impending matter in any court and, for this reason, a judge should never participate in any interview with respect to any case tried by him so long as it has not been finally disposed of or there remains the remotest possibility of further proceedings before him.

This question, however, is predicated on the assumption that no such possibility exists with respect to the proceeding in which this young athlete was convicted and sentenced, and Rule 3.7(A)(1) provides as follows:

(1) Judges may speak, write, lecture, teach, and participate in other activities concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.

For that reason, there is no reason the judge should not participate in the proposed TV program on the terms and conditions set out in the questions.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rules 2.10(A), 3.7(A). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #6, #60, #110, #150.]

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