83-F-58 - County Judge Representing county school board

 

BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE

FORMAL ETHICS OPINION 83-F-58


Inquiry is made concerning the propriety of the Judge of the County Juvenile Court representing the County School Board in an action against the County Commission relative to the proper funding of the County School Board.

The County Juvenile Court, in this instance, was created by a private act enacted by the General Assembly of Tennessee. The private act provides that the County Commission shall appropriate the necessary funds for the operation of the Juvenile Court and the compensation for the Juvenile Judge from the county general funds.

Tennessee Formal Ethics Opinion 83-F-53 states that it is improper for the attorney to counsel the county in preparation of the county budget and also represent the sheriff and/or deputy sheriffs to increase their budget or salaries. The opinion holds that this is an actual conflict of interest that cannot be waived due to the public interests.

"Differing interests" is defined in the Code of Professional Responsibility as including every interest that will adversely affect either the judgment or the loyalty of a lawyer to a client, whether it be a conflicting, inconsistent, diverse or other interest.

In this instance, the judgment and loyalty of the attorney to the County School Board will be adversely affected and his independent professional judgment and loyalty to the School Board impaired by the adversary position of the attorney against the County Commission which funds the operation of his court, including his salary.

The funding of the County School Board and the funding of the salary of the attorney as Juvenile Judge by the County Commission are related to the extent that the attorney is prohibited from bringing an action against the County Commission on behalf of the School Board for an increase of funds.

This 4th day of November, 1983.

ETHICS COMMITTEE:

Edwin C. Townsend
W. J. Flippin
Henry H. Hancock

APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD