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March 15, 1999

 

Jerry Kelly
Lonoke Municipal Court Judge
118 North Center Street
P.O. Box 500
Lonoke, Arkansas 72086

Re: Advisory Opinion # 99-01

Dear Judge Kelly:

You have asked the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee for an advisory opinion relative to your representation of Mr. Chad Long. Your letter states that you are Municipal Judge of Lonoke; that Mr. Chad Long and Mrs. Kelly Long divorced in September of 1998, by decree ordering joint custody of their children. On December 1997, Mr. Long charged Mrs. Long with harassing communications in a criminal case in Lonoke Municipal Court. Your issued the warrant. On November 11, 1998, the parties appeared before you with their respective counsel and announced that they had agreed, with the concurrence of the prosecuting attorney, that the case would be held in abeyance for twelve (12) months and then dismissed, barring further problems. Though you have no recollection of doing so, you made a docket entry to that effect.

On January 15, last, you were retained as a practicing attorney by Mr. Long in connection with a motion for a change of custody in the divorce proceeding. At a hearing on February 8, Mrs. Long asserted that you had a conflict of interest and filed a motion for your disqualification as counsel for Mr. Long. The motion is pending before the chancellor, who is, you state, awaiting an opinion from this Committee.

We must decline to render an advisory opinion as requested. Your representation of Mr. Long is a past event, having occurred on January 15, 1999. The procedural rules governing this Committee provide that advisory opinions "shall relate to prospective conduct only" and "shall address only whether an intended, future course of conduct violates the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct". Beyond that, a motion for disqualification is pending in the Lonoke Chancery Court, and it would be inappropriate for this Committee to render an advisory opinion in that context.

 

Yours very truly,

 

Steele Hays

For the Committee


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