LEO: Conflict of Interest - Secretary  LE Op. 1054


Conflict of Interest - Secretary as Magistrate.


March 29, 1988


You advise that your secretary is interested in the part-time magistrate

position in your area. You currently practice criminal law, both appointed

and retained, in the courts where many of the warrants she would write

would be heard. You state that you would in no way assist your secretary

in her magistrate's duties, such as advising as to the awarding of

warrants and setting bond.


You wish to know whether or not any conflict of interest would be created

should your secretary become the part-time magistrate in your area.


Disciplinary Rule 7-109(A) states, "A lawyer shall not give or lend

anything of value to a judge, official, or employee of any tribunal under

circumstances which might give the appearance that the gift or loan is

made to influence official action." Disciplinary Rule 7-109(B) states, "In

an adversary proceeding, a lawyer shall not communicate, or cause another

to communicate, as to the merits of the cause for the judge or an official

before whom the proceeding is pending. ..." The Committee advises that

should your secretary become the magistrate in your area, you must be

cautious not to violate DR:7-109(A) or (B).


The Committee also refers you to DR:3-104(C), which states, "A lawyer

or law firm that employs nonlawyer personnel shall exercise a high

standard of care to assure compliance by the nonlawyer personnel with the

applicable provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility. ..."


Disciplinary Rule 9-101(C) [ DR:9-101] states that "A lawyer shall not

state or imply that he is able to influence improperly or upon irrelevant

grounds any tribunal, legislative body or public official."


Disciplinary Rule 4-101(E) states, "A lawyer shall exercise reasonable

care to prevent his employees, associates, and others whose services are

utilized by him from disclosing or using confidences or secrets of a

client, except that a lawyer may reveal the information allowed by DR:4-

101(C) to an employee." The Committee also advises that should your

secretary become a magistrate, you must be cautious not to violate either

of the above-cited disciplinary rules.


Committee Opinion March 29, 1988