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March 19, 2001

The Honorable Xollie Duncan
Chancery and Probate Judge
Benton County Courthouse, Room 309
Bentonville, Arkansas 72712

Re: JEAC Opinion No. 2001-01

Dear Judge Duncan:

You wrote that you have been nominated to the Board of Advisors for Legal Assistants at the Northwest Arkansas Community College. You have stated that this is an unpaid position; that it does not involve the rendering of any legal opinions and that the principal duties of the board are to assist in the selection of curriculum, course material and teaching staff. You stated that you have advised the College that you would be seeking our opinion prior to accepting this position

Service by a judge in connection with educational institutions is mentioned several times in the Code of Judicial Conduct. In the "Terminology" section subparagraph (ii) under the definition of "Economic interest" it states that service by a judge as an officer, director, advisor or other active participation in an educational organization does not create an "Economic interest." Canon 4 B states, "A judge may speak, write, lecture, teach on and participate in other extra judicial activities concerning the law, the legal system, the administration of justice and non-legal subjects, subject to the requirements of this Code." (Emphasis supplied) The Comments under this section state in part, " As a judicial officer and person specially learned in the law, a judge is in a unique position to contribute to the improvement of the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, including revision of substantive and procedural law and improvement of criminal and juvenile justice. To the extent that time permits, a judge is encouraged to do so, either independently or through a bar association, judicial conference or other organization dedicated to the improvement of the law."

We understand that the College is a State institution but since your service on the Board of Advisors is in connection with the improvement of the legal system we do not believe that this would violate Canon 4 C (2). Canon 4 C (3) states, "A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor of an organization or governmental agency devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice or of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization not conducted for profit..." subject to the other requirements of the Code and certain limitations that do not apply here.

"Complete separation of a judge from extra-judicial activities is neither possible nor wise; a judge should not become isolated from the community in which the judge lives." (Commentary to Canon 4 A) We are of the opinion that your service on the board as described in your letter will not violate the Code of Judicial Conduct so long as you conduct this and all of your extra-judicial activities so that they do not: (1) cause reasonable doubt on your capacity to act impartially as a judge; (2) demean your judicial office; or (3) interfere with the proper performance of your judicial duties. (Canon 4 A)


Edwin Alderson
For the Committee

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