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January 5, 1998

 

 

 

The Honorable Lance L. Hanshaw
Circuit/Chancery Court, Division I
17th Judicial District-West
Lonoke County Courthouse
301 North Center Suite 303
Lonoke, Arkansas 72086

 Re: Advisory Opinion # 97-05

 Dear Judge Hanshaw:

Your letter of November 19, 1997 indicates for a number of years you have been one of three partners in a general partnership, which owns an office building. One of the other two partners manages the building, obtains tenants and collects the rent. You have no direct dealings with the tenants. Some of the tenants in the building are attorneys.

This Committee dealt with a similar situation in Advisory Opinion # 97-03, in which we concluded that reasonable individuals might question the impartiality of a judge who has an on-going relationship as a landlord with one of the attorneys of record in a proceeding. Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct 3 (E).

In our opinion, it is irrelevant whether a judge is managing the building or simply a partner. Likewise, it is irrelevant whether the partnership is yielding net income on an annual basis, and whether an attorney is the only tenant or merely one of many tenants.

Accordingly, in any proceeding in which an attorney who is a tenant of a building owned, in whole or in part, by you is an attorney of record, you should recuse. In the alternative, you may disclose on the record the basis for your disqualification. Pursuant to Canon 3F, you Amay ask the parties and their lawyers to consider, out of the presence of the judge, whether to waive disqualification@. An agreement of all that you should not be disqualified should be incorporated into the record.

 

Sincerely,

 

Howard W. Brill

For the Committee

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