A Superior Court Judge who will retire from active service in the near future but plans to continue sitting in various circuits as a Senior Judge has inquired as to the propriety of his accepting personal type gifts at two local dinners given in his honor in connection with his retirement by local bar associations, certain public officials, and other interested citizens.
While the general rule is that a judge should not accept a gift or similar benefit if “its acceptance is prohibited by law” or “its acceptance would appear to a reasonable person to undermine the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality,” nevertheless, an express exception is made to the rule in Rule 3.13(D)(2) to the effect that a judge may accept “[g]ifts incident to a public testimonial to the judge.”
Since the gifts in question appear to have been made incident to testimonials to the judge, it is the opinion of the Commission that their acceptance by the judge would be permissible under the above quoted provision of the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct.
[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rules 1.2(B), 2.4(C), 3.13(A), 3.13(D)(2), 3.14, 3.15(A). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #13, #37, #50, #96, #113, #173.]