Opinion 45

An attorney who is a partner in a law firm also serves as a part-time Juvenile Court Judge. His firm represents the County Board of Education, and 90% of the work performed on behalf of the Board is done by the attorney who also serves as the Juvenile Court Judge.

From time to time the Board of Education requests this attorney to present the evidence in disciplinary hearings before the Board. He makes no recommendations to the Board and gives no advice as to what their decision should be in the matter.

If there has been a Juvenile Court complaint filed against a child, prior to the disciplinary hearing, he does not take any part in the disciplinary hearing. If a Juvenile Court complaint is filed after the disciplinary hearing, he disqualifies himself in the Juvenile Court case and allows the matter to be presented to a Judge Pro Tem. He has asked for an opinion as to whether or not this procedure is proper and authorized under Ga. Code Ann., Section 24A201(f).

This provision of the Code states “It shall be unlawful for the Judge of any Juvenile Court to engage directly or indirectly in the practice of law in his own name, or in the name of another, as a partner or in any manner, in any cause, proceeding or matter of any kind, in his own Court or in any other Court in any cause, proceeding or any other matters of which his own Court has pending jurisdiction or has had jurisdiction. It shall be unlawful for any Juvenile Court Judge to give advice or counsel to any person on any matter of any kind whatsoever which has arisen directly or indirectly in his own Court, except such advice or counsel as he is called upon to give while performing his duties as Juvenile Court Judge.”

Rule 3.10 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides:

Judges shall not practice law, unless allowed by law.

The Application provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct provide in part:

. . . All judges, whether full-time, part-time, or pro tempore, shall comply with this Code except as provided below.

A. Part-time Judges A part-time judge is a person selected to serve as a judge on a periodic or continuing basis, but is permitted by law to devote time to some other profession or occupation, including the private practice of law. Part-time judges: (1) are not required to comply with Rules. . . 3.10 [practice of law] . . . .

(2) shall not practice law in the court on which they serve, or act as lawyers in proceedings for which they have served as judges or in any proceeding related thereto; nor should they practice law in any court over which the court they serve as a part-time judge conducts appellate review.

The Commission is of the opinion that since a part-time Juvenile Court Judge is permitted to practice law, he may represent a County Board of Education. In such representation he may act as a lawyer in a disciplinary proceeding before the Board, so long as the proceeding does not involve a matter in which he has previously served as Judge, a matter then pending in his Court, or a matter that he knows or has reason to believe will be brought into his Court.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rules 1.2(B), 2.4(C), 3.10, Application Provision A. Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #31, #44, #48, #69, #107, #134, #180, #185.]

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