Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee

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December 3, 1996



W. H. "Dub" Arnold
Circuit/Chancery Judge-9E
Clark County Courthouse
P.O. Box 966
Arkadelphia Arkansas 71923

RE: Advisory Opinion # 96-08

Dear Judge Arnold:

In your letter of November 27, 1996, you ask whether a relative of yours (second cousin) who will be graduating from the University of Arkansas School of Law may be employed as a law clerk by one of the associate justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court or one of the judges of the Court of Appeals, notwithstanding your status, effective January 1, 1997, as Chief Justice of the former body.

Canon 3 C (4) provides:

A judge should not make unnecessary appointments.  A judge should exercise his power of appointment  only on the basis of merit, avoiding nepotism and  favoritism. No judge shall employ a spouse or other  relative unless it has been affirmatively demonstrated to the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability  Commission that it is impossible for the judge to hire any other qualified person to fill the position. A  judge should not approve compensation of appointees beyond the fair value of services rendered.

Assuming that any hiring in this instance is solely on the basis of merit, and presupposing that the hiring of staff by the individual judges is done wholly independently and is in no sense a collective procedure, we are of the opinion that Canon 3 B (4) would not be broached by the employment by one judge of a second cousin of another.




Steele Hays

For the Committee

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