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May 12, 2003

Honorable John R. Scott
State of Arkansas Circuit Court
Nineteenth Judicial District West, Division IV
Benton County Courthouse
102 N.E. "A" Street, Box 12
Bentonville, Arkansas 72712

RE: Advisory Opinion 2003-03


Dear Judge Scott:

In your capacity as administrative judge, you have asked whether the circuit judges may appoint a part-time district judge to perform judicial duties at the county jail. The judge would function in a capacity similar to a magistrate; that is, reviewing probable cause affidavits, issuing search warrants and arrest warrants, conducting bail bond hearings, appointing the Public Defender, and similar tasks. For these services the judge would be compensated by the county, over and above the compensation received for serving as the district judge.

The Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct permits a continuing part-time judge (such as a district judge) to engage in the private practice of law, to own and operate a business, to be a director of a bank, to be compensated for speeches or books, and to participate in similar activities. Application Section; Canon 4(D). Like a full time judge, a part time judge is to avoid the appearance of impropriety, to conduct his extra judicial affairs so as to minimize conflict with judicial obligations, and to receive only reasonable compensation for the work done.

We find nothing in the Code of Judicial Conduct that bars a district judge from accepting additional judicial responsibilities and from being compensated for them. The county could hire or appoint a non judge to perform these judicial duties. But the Code does not bar a district judge from also performing them.
However, we are unable to answer other questions that may be appropriate. For example, does statutory law bar a part-time judge from receiving additional compensation for other judicial services performed in the same county?

Further, what are the proper duties of a part-time district judge? It may be well be concluded that the duties of the judge necessarily include the functions that you describe in your letter. In that case, they would fall within the regular salary paid to the judge, and no extra compensation is required.

Such questions, which fall outside our authority, are more appropriately addressed to the Attorney General, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Quorum Court, or other authority.

Our narrow conclusion is that the Code of Judicial Conduct does not prohibit extra compensation, nor does it provide a basis to demand or require such compensation.

Sincerely,

Howard W. Brill
For the Committee

 

 

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