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