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September 23, 1993


The Honorable Joyce Williams Warren
Circuit/Chancery Judge
Sixth Judicial District Chancery Court
Juvenile Division
3001 West Roosevelt Road - 2nd Floor
Little Rock, AR 72204

Re: Advisory Opinion #93-05

 

Dear Judge Warren:

You have inquired of this committee whether service on the Board of Directors of Associated Marine Institutes (AMI) is permitted under the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct, adopted on July 5, 1993 by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

AMI is a non-profit organization located in Florida. Under contract with the State of Arkansas, it currently operates one residential program for juveniles who have been designated "serious offenders". Upon a determination that an individual is a serious offender, the juvenile court "commits" the minor to the State Department of Human Services. Independently of the juvenile judge, DHS then makes the determination as to whether to place the juvenile in a residential program and which program is most appropriate and available.

We conclude that:

1) AMI is not a governmental committee or commission, and therefore the restrictions of Canon 4(C)(2) are not applicable. In contrast the committee that was the subject of our opinion #93-01 was an arm of the State of Arkansas. A mere contractual relationship between relationship between a non-profit organization and the State does not make the organization a governmental committee.

 

2) AMI falls, instead, within the scope of Canon 4(C)(3) as "an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization not conducted for profit." A judge is permitted to serve as the director of such an organization, subject to the limitations of the Code.

 

As you recognize in your letter (and we are compelled to express our gratitude for the thoroughness of your letter and the research presented), you will not be permitted to personally participate in solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities. Canon 4(C)(3)(b). Although apparently improbable, if the organization were likely to become engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before you, you would be compelled to withdraw as a director. Canon 4(C)(3)(a).

3) Although judges are advised to avoid activities that create the appearance of impropriety, judges are also urged not to withdraw entirely from the community. See Commentary to Canon 4(A). Judges are, on the contrary, specifically urged to offer their expertise in appropriate to the improvement of criminal and juvenile justice. See Commentary to Canon 4(B). We do not believe that your service on the AMI Board would "create in reasonable minds a perception that the judge's ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity, impartiality and competence is impaired." Commentary to Canon 2(A).

It is the opinion of this committee that your service on the Board of Directors of AMI would not violate the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

For the Committee

 

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