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Opinion 25

A retired Judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia who does not hold Emeritus status, but who retired and received retirement benefits pursuant to Ga. Laws 1971, page 99 (Ga. Code Anno., Section 40-2535), has requested an advisory opinion from the Commission concerning whether it would constitute a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct for such retired Judge to participate in or contribute to political campaigns of candidates for public office. 

Canon 4 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides:

Judges shall refrain from political activity inappropriate to their judicial office.

The Code of Judicial Conduct further reads in part:

APPLICATION

Anyone, whether or not a lawyer, who performs judicial functions under the Constitution and laws of Georgia, including an associate judge, senior judge, special master, magistrate, or municipal judge, or any person who is a judicial candidate for any such office, is a judge for the purpose of this Code. All judges, whether full-time, part-time, or pro tempore, shall comply with this Code . . . . 

It is the view of the Commission that the Code of Judicial Conduct applies only to those persons who are authorized by law to perform judicial duties and who are properly commissioned according to law to perform such duties. It is the further view of the Commission that one who has retired from the Court of Appeals of Georgia pursuant to Ga. Laws 1971, page 99 et seq., does not hold “judicial office” as that term is used in Canon 4 of the Code, nor is he an “officer of the judicial system performing judicial functions” as that term is used in the portion of the Code requiring compliance therewith. 


Accordingly, it is the opinion of the Commission that a person who has retired as a Judge from the Court of Appeals of Georgia under the provisions of Ga. Laws 1971, page 99 et seq. (Ga. Code Anno., Section 40-2535), is not required to comply with the Code of Judicial Conduct, unless he subsequently becomes a judge of a judicial system and is commissioned and authorized by law to perform judicial functions, or becomes a candidate for election to judicial office.

This opinion is not applicable to those persons holding Emeritus or Senior Judge status as provided by law.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Canon 4, Application Provision. Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #8, #111, #147.]

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