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Opinion 194

An opinion is requested by a sitting Superior Court Judge, who currently serves as Secretary of the State Commission on Family Violence, as to the propriety of limited judicial participation in organizational meetings looking toward the formation of community task forces on family violence.

It is represented that the statutory authority for the establishment of such task forces is found in O.C.G.A. § 19-13-31 and, acting pursuant thereto, the State Commission proposes to request the Chief Judge of each judicial circuit to convene a meeting to decide how best to form a circuit-wide task force.

Recognizing the holding of this Commission in Opinion No. 115, in which judicial service on an advisory panel associated with ending family violence was held to be inappropriate, the State Commission states:

Unlike the situation addressed in Opinion No. 115, judges who arrange for the organizational meeting would not be called upon to render advice to the task force, or share their opinions on the subject of family violence with participants. Persons convening the meeting would not be obligated to serve on the task force. Their role would simply be to assist in establishing the task forces and to encourage community leaders to participate in the organizational meeting.

Somewhat similar issues have been addressed in Opinion Nos. 57, 78, 105, 115, 125, 158, 174 and 178, and differing conclusions reached depending upon the particular facts involved. However, the factual setting here presented most closely resembles those found in Opinions No 174 and 178 where the Commission relied upon Rule 3.7(A) in approving limited judicial participation in the establishment of a Child Abuse Protocol Committee (No. 174) and a Public Safety Coordinating Council established by a city police department (No. 178).

For the same reason, and provided the judicial participation is limited as hereinabove set forth and does not otherwise interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties, it is the opinion of this Commission that such limited judicial participation would not be inappropriate.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Canon 1, Rule 2.11, Rule 3.7. Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #78, #115, #125, #174, #178, #201.]

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