2012-10 (June 1, 2012)
Rules 1.2, 3.1 & 3.7
Issue: May a Judicial Official join as a member of the Connecticut
chapter of a national ethnic bar association?
Additional Facts: The Connecticut chapter is a non-profit, non-partisan corporation
created to address the concerns of the particular ethnic legal community and to improve the administration
of justice. The national organization communicates the views of its members to state and federal officials
on matters of common concern, including the impact of legislation, judicial selections, and improvement
of the administration of justice. The national organization also conducts legal seminars, furnishes law
students with financial aid, and promotes international legal exchanges. Membership in the national
bar association is limited to lawyers who by birth or extraction, or by marriage are related to a
person who by birth or extraction is from the particular ethnic group, or to any other lawyer who
supports the purposes and objectives of the organization. There is no indication on the application
for membership in the Connecticut chapter that one must belong to a particular ethnic group, although
there is a reference to those who share a common heritage. Furthermore, unlike with respect to
there is no indication that the Connecticut chapter or the national organization limits membership to a
certain sex, age, group, or to individuals who subscribe to a particular religious belief. A search of
the Connecticut Judicial Branch website did not reveal any cases currently or in the recent past in which
the Connecticut chapter or the national organization was a party.
Response: Rule 1.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that a judge “shall act at all
times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the
judiciary and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.” Rule 3.1 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct provides that subject to certain conditions a judge “may engage in extrajudicial activities except
as prohibited by law.” Similarly, Rule 3.7(a) provides that a judge may participate in activities sponsored
by organizations concerned with the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice and enumerates
several permitted activities.
Based upon the information provided, the Judicial Official may join as a member of the local ethnic bar
association, but should regularly reexamine the activities and rules of the association to determine whether
it is proper for the Judicial Official to continue his or her relationship with it and should carefully
consider whether the Judicial Official’s identification with or involvement in specific programs or activities
of the association may undermine confidence in the Judicial Official’s independence, integrity and impartiality.