January 14, 2010
The Answer Is "Maybe"
The Massachusetts Committee on Judicial Ethics has recently opined on the propriety of a judge allowing a local foundation to pay for two nights lodging at a drug court conference. The committee concludes:
In sum, you [the inquiring judge] should conduct a two step analysis. (1) Based on the totality of the circumstances you must determine if a disinterested observer would question your impartiality if one of the attorneys who participated in the Foundation decision to provide reimbursement for lodging was involved in a case in front of you. If the attorneys involved in the Foundation decision are unlikely to appear before you, or if recusal would not be required, then the Code poses no obstacle to accepting the reimbursement. (2) If recusal would be required, then you must determine if acceptance of the reimbursement would interfere with your judicial duties.
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