A county judge on several occasions disqualified himself

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A county judge on several occasions disqualified himself from serving as judge and accepted employment as counsel for the applicant in will probate cases filed in his court. In one case the judge had previously acted as the attorney of the deceased in preparing the will. In another the judge was distantly related to the deceased. But in most of the cases there was no prior connection between the judge and the deceased or the legatees and devisees of the deceased. The county judge is named as one of the partners in a partnership with another lawyer in the community. His partner is often counsel for applicants in probate matters handled in the judge's court. The county judge does not participate in fees derived from any matters handled in his court by his partner.

1. May a county judge properly disqualify himself and then ethically accept employment as an attorney in a probate matter handled in his court before a special judge? Is the conclusion any different in the event that the judge, prior to his becoming county judge, or prior to the inception of the case, had represented one or more of the parties involved?

2. May an attorney who is county judge maintain a partnership for the practice of law with another attorney in the community, using his name and that of the other attorney, and act in his judicial capacity in cases filed in his court by his partner in his partner's name only? Is the conclusion any different if it appears that the county judge does not participate in the fee derived from the case filed in his court, but does participate in the general fees collected by the partnership in other matters?

 

Reference no: EM13334760

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