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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2011-08 (April 19, 2011)
Disclosure/Disqualification; Rule 2.11

Issue: May a Judicial Official preside over a case involving a financial institution if the Judicial Official owns between $6,500 and $7,000 worth of stock or bonds in the financial institution?

Response: Additional facts include that the investment represents a miniscule percentage of the stock or bonds that are issued by the financial institution, the financial institution is regularly involved in collection and other litigation, and the investment has generated annual income from less than $100 to over $1,000. The Committee considered the foregoing information, the requirement in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 51-46a to specifically identify any securities valued in excess of $5,000 and the standards adopted in other jurisdictions as to what constitutes de minimis. In order to provide guidance for Judicial Officials as to when an investment is de minimis and, therefore, does not require a Judicial Official to recuse himself or herself, the Committee adopted the following standard: An investment that is (a) five thousand dollars ($5,000) or less and also (b) one percent (1%) or less in an entity, shall be deemed de minimis, whereas an interest in excess of that amount or that percentage shall be deemed an economic interest unless exempted by the definition of “economic interest” in the Terminology section of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Committee noted that even when a Judicial Official has a de minimis interest, the Judicial Official must consider whether factors, such as an investment that holds special significance to the Judicial Official, requires disqualification. Furthermore, while an economic interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to a proceeding requires disqualification pursuant to Rule 2.11(a)(3), the Committee noted that pursuant to Rule 2.11(a)(2), an economic interest that is not in a party or the subject matter in controversy does not require automatic disqualification unless that interest could be substantially affected by the proceeding. Finally, the Committee concluded that a Judicial Official disqualified in accordance with the above provisions may seek remittal of disqualification in accordance with Rule 2.11(c).

Committee on Judicial Ethics

 


 

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