FROM: Donna Leydorf, Legal Consultant
DATE: December 15, 2000
RE: City Judge
You have asked me whether it would be proper for a City to appoint a new City Judge who is not a resident of the County that the City is in. You also mentioned that the candidate for the judicial position has a parent on the City’s council. I recommend against making the appointment for two reasons:
1.The City’s code specifically requires that the City Judge be a resident of County. See Section 3-101(2).
2.Canon 2 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court requires that a judge “shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge’s activities.” It further states:
A. A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
B. A judge shall not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment. A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge shall not testify voluntarily as a character witness.
While I am sure that the persons involved, both the council member and the candidate for City Judge, would not do anything improper, there would always be the “appearance of impropriety” which could be damaging to the integrity of both offices.
Please let me know if you have further questions about his issue.