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Opinion 76

A judge has asked for an Advisory Opinion as to whether, because he is a stockholder and member of the Advisory Board of Directors of a Bank, he would be disqualified in any case in which the Bank is a party –

1. From signing a nisi order which only set the matter for hearing, or

2. From signing a nisi order which included emergency relief, such as a temporary restraining order, or

3. From signing uncontested orders such as consent or default judgments, or

4. From hearing a contested matter where an office of the bank other than the local office is a party.

Rule 2.11(A) provides in part as follows:

(A) Judges shall disqualify themselves in any proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned…

In addition, O.C.G.A. § 15-1-8 provides:

15-1-8. When judge or judicial officer disqualified.

(a) No judge or justice of any court, magistrate, nor presiding officer of any inferior judicate or commission shall:

(1) Sit in any case or proceeding in which he is pecuniarily interested;

A stockholder has a property interest in the corporation and the judge would, therefore, have a pecuniary interest and would be disqualified in any case to which the corporation was a party. Georgia Power Co. v. Walls, 184 Ga. 135; Adams v. McGehee, 211 Ga. 498. For that reason, the answer to each of the foregoing questions would be that the judge would be disqualified.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rules 1.2(B), 2.4(B), 2.2, 2.10(A), 2.11(A), 3.1(A), 3.11(B), 3.11(C), 3.11(D). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #11, #32, #40, #53, #61, #102, #148, #160.]

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