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Opinion 225

An opinion is requested concerning the propriety of courts accepting and using certain “Official Documents” envelopes provided at no cost to the court by an advertising agency for commercial banks and bearing advertisements naming both the Court and the bank.

In Opinion No. 172 (September 25, 1992), the Commission concluded that no judge should have any interest, financial or otherwise, in any private, for profit, probation service company. In Opinion No. 215 (September 30, 1996) it was held inappropriate for any judicial officer to endorse or otherwise to align publicly himself or herself with any private, for profit, probation service.

Such holdings, together with the language of Rule 1.3 directing that “Judges shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others” and Rule 2.4(C) states “Judges shall not convey or enable others to convey the impression that any person or organization is in a position to influence the judge” requires the same result. 

In addition, the continued acceptance and use of such “free” envelopes from institutions which are likely to be frequent litigants could result in a violation of Rule 3.13(B) and/or possibly require frequent disqualification pursuant to Canon 2.

Any judicial officer who may have heretofore unknowingly failed to follow the dictates of this opinion is directed to take such action immediately as may be necessary to come into compliance.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rule 1.3 Canon 2, Rule 3.13(B). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #74, #92, #97, #172, #215.]

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