Opinion 132

The Commission has been asked for an Advisory Opinion as to whether it would be inappropriate for a judge to establish and administer a panel composed of victims of drunk driving and to require convicted drunk drivers to convene with such a panel at a specified time and for specified periods in order to impress upon them the potentially serious consequences of their offense.

Commentary [1] following Rule 3.7 states:

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. 

In the opinion of this Commission it is not inappropriate for a convicted drunk driver to be required to meet for stated periods with a panel of victims of drunk drivers, provided such appearances are properly supervised, nor is it inappropriate for the judge to establish and administer such a panel provided that so doing does not interfere with the proper performance of his/her judicial duties.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rules 1.2(B), 2.4(B), 3.1(A), 3.7(A)(1). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #15, #38, #103, #105, #115, #125, #126, #138, #139, #156, #161, #174, #176, #178.]

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