The Judicial Qualifications Commission has been asked for an Advisory Opinion with respect to the following two questions:
(1) Whether it would be proper for a judge to serve on the advisory panel of an organization known as “End Violence Now,” a sub-group of the “Clayton County Forum to Stop Domestic Violence,” which will be composed of representatives from the courts, prosecutors’ offices, police departments, mental health center, and the Battered Women’s Association.
EVN, it is stated, will work to establish protocols for police intervention in domestic violence, victim and witness contact and assistance, prosecutorial standards and activities in domestic violence cases, community mental health intervention and sentencing considerations and alternatives for judges. Some of these sentencing alternatives would include counseling and treatment by the “End Violence Now” group itself as a condition of probation.
(2) Whether it would be proper for a judge to attend seminars sponsored by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council for the State of Georgia.
The first question above set forth must be answered in the negative for, while the purposes and objectives of the “End Violence Now” sub-group of the Clayton County Forum to Stop Domestic Violence are certainly commendable and praise-worthy, the Commission has consistently held that a judge should not become personally associated as an activist with particular causes which relate to issues which may come before him in his judicial capacity (See Opinion No. 78), and the Commission continues to be of this opinion.
As to the second question, attendance by a judge at an educational seminar organized for prosecuting attorneys would not be per se improper, nor would attendance at such an educational seminar for defense counsel be per se improper, but regular or exclusive attendance at either over an extended period of time might create an appearance of bias and impropriety in violation of Canon 1 and, therefore, become inappropriate.
[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Canons 1 and 2, Rules 1.2(B), 2.4(B), 2.10(A), 2.11(A), 3.2, 3.7(A)(1), 3.11, 3.13. Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #2, #77, #78, #98, #138, #174, #178, #194, #201.]