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Opinion 48

This request involves a construction of Code Ann. Sec. 24-201 (f) insofar as it disqualified an attorney, who is also a part-time Juvenile Court Judge, from practicing law in any cause of which his own court “has pending jurisdiction or has had jurisdiction.”

This question arises out of the following facts: A proceeding in the Juvenile Court of Rockdale County involved a child abuse situation between the natural mother and her husband, who was the adoptive father. The child abuse charge was dismissed, but out of the hearing there was an advice for psychological counseling of the child. This resulted in the placement voluntarily and outside of any court order with its natural father in another town. This was eight to twelve months ago, and it appears that the case in the juvenile court has terminated.

The Juvenile Court Judge has been tendered employment in a divorce matter in which the natural mother would have custody of the child and there is not now any custody dispute.

The Commission sees no conflict in the Juvenile Court Judge representing the mother in the divorce case.

The case in juvenile court did not involve custody of the child, and it does not appear that the juvenile court had jurisdiction of this question.

Even if the juvenile court had had jurisdiction of a custody question of the child, this custody situation had terminated by mutual agreement.

There should be no question concerning the construction of “pending jurisdiction.” In our opinion, this means that the case is still before the court, or that, upon motion of the parties interested or by the court on its own motion, the issue could be brought before the court for adjudication.

On the question of whether or not a juvenile court “has had jurisdiction” of a particular matter, the Commission suggests that several factors are involved as to whether or not the judge should accept employment as an attorney. Some of these factors are: whether or not the parties are the same; the issue to be determined is the same; whether or not the facts developed in the juvenile court would have any relevance to the issue involved in the subsequent proceeding in which the judge is to be employed as attorney; and whether or not the attorney can be justifiably accused of having acted as a judge in the same proceeding in which he is acting as an attorney.

It is noted that the Commission is attempting to construe a statute of this state, which is in fact the function of the courts.

Rule 20 of the Rules of the Judicial Qualifications Commission permits the Commission to render advisory opinions concerning a proper interpretation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Rules 1.1 and 1.2(A) requires a judge to respect and comply with the law and to conduct himself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, respectivley. 

This Canon applies to part-time Judges.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Canon 1, Rules 1.2(B), 2.8, 3.10, Application Provision (A)(2). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #31, #44, #45, #69, #97, #134, #180, #185.]

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