March 23, 2021
This responds to your inquiry (21-43) asking whether, as a part-time justice, you may serve on the board of a local human rights commission, which is involved in investigating, conciliating, and adjudicating employment, housing, public accommodation and credit discrimination claims. The committee also undertakes education and outreach programs to foster awareness and understanding of diversity and humanity.
The Committee has previously advised that the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a judge from serving on a committee with investigative and disciplinary/enforcement functions, as such service would reflect on the judge’s impartiality, undermine the judiciary’s integrity and independence, interfere with the judge’s official duties, or place the judge in an adversarial role. Here, participation in this type of committee could likely lead to court action in the very county where you serve, and such matters may generate public controversy. Moreover, such service may raise separation of powers concerns as it appears the committee has the power to investigate and adjudicate discrimination complaints against other branches of government. Accordingly, you may not serve on this committee.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 17-66; 06-09; 02-41; and 01-49 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
Margaret T. Walsh
Supreme Court Justice
Acting Supreme Court Justice