ON STANDARDS OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT
OPINION NO. 3 - 2012
RE: Propriety of a circuit court signing a solicitor’s petition to be nominated as a circuit delegate to the South Carolina Bar’s House of Delegates.
A circuit court judge has been asked to sign a petition on behalf of a solicitor seeking the nomination for circuit delegate to the South Carolina Bar’s House of Delegates. The solicitor is from the same county in which the judge regularly presides. The judge inquires into the propriety of signing such a petition.
A judge should not sign a petition nominating a solicitor from the judge’s county to the House of Delegates.
Canon 2.A., Rule 501, SCACR, states that a judge “shall act at all times in a manner that promotes the public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the law.” Canon 2.B, Rule 501, SCACR, states that “[a] judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others...”
Because the solicitor is from the same county as the inquiring judge and will regularly appear before the judge, the judge’s signature on a petition endorsing the solicitor as a candidate for the House of Delegates could create the appearance of partiality. In addition, the judge’s signature could be construed as lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the solicitor. Thus, the judge should not sign such a petition.
January 26, 2012