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June 26, 2002

Circuit Judge David Goodson
Division 7 Second Judicial District
320 W. Court St., #210
Paragould, AR 72450

RE: Advisory Opinion 2002-06

Dear Judge Goodson:

You have asked whether your wife may work, either as a volunteer or as a paid employee, in the political campaign of a candidate seeking election to a statewide office.

The Code of Judicial Conduct places clear restrictions on a judge. A judge may not publicly endorse or publicly oppose a candidate seeking election to office. Canon 5 (A) (1). A judge may not identify himself as a member of a political party. Canon 5 (F). In addition the judge must encourage members of the candidate's family to adhere to the same standards of political conduct. Canon 5 (A) (3). The context of that language suggests that in the course of judicial campaigns, the candidate must encourage his relatives to behave in the same fashion.

However, the issue here is whether the Code bars a spouse from participating in a non-judicial political campaign. We note that the Commentary to the Code states that family members are free to participate in other political activity. Further it is questionable whether authority exists to bar relatives, who do not serve as public servants, from political life.

We conclude that the spouse of a judge is free to participate in other political campaigns. The participation may be on a paid or on a voluntary basis. However, the spouse should make all efforts to avoid any suggestion or hint that the judge is supportive of a candidate.

Very truly yours,

Howard W. Brill
For the Committee

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