ON STANDARDS OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT
OPINION NO. 4 - 2014
RE :The propriety of a municipal judge’s child receiving a scholarship from a foundation whose president writes bonds in the municipal court.
A municipal judge has a child in college, who resides part-time with the judge and part-time on campus. An individual who signs bonds (“bondsman”) in municipal court is also the president and CEO of a foundation that offers college scholarships. The bondsman’s foundation has offered the judge’s child a scholarship due to the child’s hard work and accomplishments. The child would be required to submit an essay on the topic of plans after graduation, and attend a luncheon with other scholarship recipients. The judge was not invited and would not attend this luncheon. The judge inquires into the propriety of the judge’s child accepting this scholarship.
The judge’s child may accept a scholarship that is awarded based on the child’s performance and accomplishments.
The Code of Judicial Conduct provides that a judge shall not accept, and shall urge members of the judge’s family residing in the judge’s household, not to accept a gift, bequest, favor, or loan from anyone, but provides certain exceptions to this rule. Canon 4D(5). One exception is: “a scholarship or fellowship awarded on the same terms and based on the same criteria applied to other applicants[.]” Canon 4D(5)(g). It appears from the facts presented that the judge’s child is being awarded a scholarship based on the same standards and requirements for the other recipients. Thus, the judge’s child may accept a scholarship from the foundation of the bondsman.
March 24, 2014