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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2010-03 (January 29, 2010)
Post-Retirement Employment; Advancing Private Interests;
Canons 2, 3 & 5; C.G.S. § 51-39a

Issue: May a Judicial Official, anticipating post-retirement employment outside the Judicial Branch, but prior to the effective date of resignation, (1) have his or her name listed with a private alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service, such as the American Arbitration Association (AAA), as available on a specified date after the Judicial Official’s resignation to provide mediation and arbitration services, and (2) advertise in newspapers or provide general notices to attorneys of the Judicial Official’s future availability to provide such services?

Response: Based upon the facts presented, the Committee unanimously determined that Canons 2, 3 and 5 prohibit the Judicial Official, in advance of resignation, from listing his or her name with a private ADR service, such as the AAA, advertising in newspapers or providing general notices to attorneys regarding the Judicial Official’s availability to provide mediation and arbitration services after his/her resignation. The Committee previously determined in JE 2008-08 that it would not be proper for a Judicial Official, who was seeking post-retirement employment with a law firm, to make it generally known that he/she was seeking such a position, in order to avoid being solicited by a number of law firms that may appear before the Judicial Official before his/her departure. In this case, the Judicial Official’s proposed issuance of a general notice of availability for employment of various means is prohibited by the Code as constituting general solicitation of future employment by means of contacting or notifying attorneys and parties that may have pending, recently pending, or future matters before the Judicial Official. Such conduct would not promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary (Canon 2), and could raise doubts about the Judicial Official’s impartiality (Canon 3). It could also interfere with the proper performance of his/her duties while still a Judicial Official, exploit his/her position, and could involve the Judicial Official in frequent transactions with attorneys or parties likely to come before the court (Canon 5).

The Committee distinguished this case from JE 2008-08 in which the Committee opined that a Judicial Official could initiate selective individual contacts with prospective employers in ways that did not cause recusals or that would interfere with the proper performance of his/her judicial duties. The Committee notes that it may be proper under circumstance to be determined on a case by case basis, for a Judicial Official contemplating resignation to make discreet, selective, individual inquiries about post-judicial employment in order to make an informed decision about whether to resign. However, the types of notice proposed in this case are prohibited by the Code. It should be noted that this opinion does not apply to Judicial Officials who participate in the Court Annexed Mediation program created under General Statutes § 51-5a.

Committee on Judicial Ethics

 


 

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