ON STANDARDS OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT
OPINION NO. 9 - 2014
RE: Propriety of a full-time Magistrate being employed as a baseball coach for a high school or an American Legion team.
A full-time Magistrate judge inquires into the propriety of serving as the head baseball coach for a high school or an American Legion team. The high school team is funded by the school district which also pays the coach’s salary. The high school team is also supported by a booster club that has fund-raising projects. The American Legion team is funded by donations and sponsors, and the judge’s coaching position is an unpaid, volunteer position. The judge does not solicit sponsors or donations. The team’s general manager handles all donations, sponsors, and bookkeeping. However, the team does hold several fund-raisers, for which the judge participates in planning and operations. One fund-raiser was a golf tournament for which a flyer was produced asking for hole sponsorship; the judge’s name (with no reference to judicial office) was one of several others listed as persons to contact regarding the tournament.
With regard to employment as a high school coach, the Code of Judicial Conduct does not prohibit such a full-time magistrate from engaging in other employment, but such employment is subject to the Code and the administrator of the magistrate’s office. If such employment is allowed, the judge must abide by the restrictions on fund-raising. The judge may continue to act as an unpaid volunteer coach for an American Legion team, provided the restrictions on fund-raising are observed.
The facts are not clear as to whether the job of high school baseball coach is full-time or part-time. However, this Committee has previously considered whether a full-time magistrate could accept part-time employment in a pharmacy. See Op. 13-2005. In that opinion, we noted that the Code of Judicial Conduct does not prohibit part-time employment by a full-time magistrate. Canon 4D(3) permits a judge to serve as employee of a business entity “if that service does not conflict with the judge’s judicial duties[.]” Rule 501, SCACR. The commentary to that Canon states that a judge’s participation may be prohibited if “participation requires significant time away from judicial duties.” Whether the magistrate’s employment as a high school baseball coach will require significant time away from judicial duties must be determined by the magistrate and the administrator of the magistrate’s office in that county.
Canon 4C(3) allows a judge to be an officer, director or advisor to an organization that is educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic. Canon 4(C)(3)(b) states that a judge “may assist an organization in planning fund-raising and may participate in the management and investment of the organization’s funds, but shall not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities....” The commentary to that section notes that “[u]se of an organization’s letterhead for fund-raising or membership solicitation does not violate [this section] provided the letterhead lists only the judge’ name and office or other position in the organization....”
Here, if the judge does continue employment with the high school, the judge should not actively solicit funds on behalf of the booster club, though the judge may assist the booster club in planning fund-raisers. If the judge observes the Canons on fund-raising, there is no violation against employment as a high school baseball coach.
As the coach for the American Legion team, it appears that the judge would only be involved in planning the fund-raisers, and not in any active solicitation. Moreover, the flyer listing the judge as one of the tournament organizers for the legion team is akin to the use of letterhead for fund-raising and, since the judge’s office is not included on the flyer, there is no violation of the Canons. Therefore, the judge may serve as an unpaid volunteer coach for an American Legion baseball team, provided that the judge continue to observe the limitations on fund-raising.
May 15, 2014