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Friday, August 28, 2015

Ind. Courts - Commission on Judicial Qualifications new advisory opinion on judges receiving compensation for officiating over weddings

Here is the advisory opinion. Some quotes:

May judges receive compensation for officiating wedding ceremonies during the court’s regular hours? Is this analysis affected by whether the ceremony is performed at the courthouse or at an alternate location?

The Commission’s view is that a judge who performs wedding ceremonies during the court’s regular hours should remit any funds received for these services to the court. By receiving personal compensation for judicial duties performed at the courthouse while the court is open and conducting business, judges and judicial officers may be perceived as using their judicial position for pecuniary gain, in violation of Rule 1.3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Judges and judicial officers who solemnize marriages outside of normal court hours, even at the court, may personally accept a reasonable fee for these services. However, as always, judges should conduct themselves in a manner to minimize any potential conflicts or the appearance of impropriety by the performance of these extrajudicial duties. * * *

To some members of the public, a judge’s receipt of a fee for performing a marriage ceremony during court hours may seem analogous to the receipt of a fee for signing an order or ruling upon a motion. Judges must therefore decline the personal acceptance of any fees or gratuities for solemnizing marriages during regular court hours while on court premises. If a judge is offered payment for performing an after-hours marriage ceremony, the source and amount of funds must still be evaluated to determine whether acceptance may lead to an appearance of impropriety.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 28, 2015 10:59 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts