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Opinion 98

The Judicial Qualifications Commission has been asked for an Advisory Opinion as to whether it is appropriate for a judge to be a dues paying member of a plaintiffs or defendants Trial Lawyers Association. The Association of Plaintiff Trial Lawyers is devoted to promoting the interests of plaintiff’s bar and its clients just as the Association of Defense Counsel is devoted to promoting the interests of the defense bar and its clients.

Rule 1.1 provides: Judges shall respect and comply with the law. In addition, Rule 1.2 states Judges shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary. 

Rule 3.7(B) provides: Judges may participate in educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic activities that do not reflect adversely upon their impartiality or interfere with the performance of their judicial duties.

Membership in such a group would reflect adversely on the impartiality of a judge and would not promote public confidence in his integrity or impartiality. For that reason, his membership in either a plaintiffs or defendants trial lawyers association would be inappropriate.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rules 1.2(B), 2.4(B), 3.1(A), 3.7(A), 3.7(B). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #15, #46, #115.]

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