Monday, October 11, 2010
The cutting edge issue whether a judicial clerk can host a jewelry sale or conduct a jewerly business is addressed in a recent judicial ethics opinion from South Carolina. The Advisory Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct opines:
Rule 506, entitled Code of Conduct for Staff Attorneys and Law Clerks, governs this situation. Specifically, Canon 5(C) states that a law clerk should "refrain from financial and business dealings that tend to detract from the dignity of [her] office, interfere with the proper performance of [her] official duties, exploit [her] official position, or involve [her] in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court [she] serves."
Here, the judicial law clerk's intended activity in hosting a trunk show or selling jewelry does not, in and of itself, detract from the dignity of the office. However, the law clerk must be careful in ensuring that the time commitment involved will not interfere with her official duties. In addition, the law clerk must not reference her position as a judicial law clerk in the invitations to the party nor should she publicize the event while acting in her official capacity. Finally, as long as the lawyers who appear before the court do not make frequent purchases, the law clerk will not be engaged in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court she serves.
This Committee offers no opinion as to whether the judge, as the law clerk's employer, should or should not give permission for the law clerk to engage in other employment.