1995-16: Pro Se Appearance of Judge on own behalf


Opinion No. 95-16

September 13, 1995

TOPIC: Judge's appearance pro se in a matter affecting the judge's property in another state in that state's court system.

DIGEST: A judge may appear pro se in another state as long as the judge represents only the judge's interests and the judge does not exploit the judge's judicial position.

REFERENCES: Illinois Supreme Court Rules 65C(1), (2) and (3) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 5 (145 Ill.2d R. 65); Illinois Supreme Court Rule 65F of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 5 (145 Ill.2d R. 65); U.S. v. Martinez, 101 N.M. 423, 684 P.2d 509 (1984).


A judge owns property in another state. The judge's interests in the property have become the subject of litigation in the courts of this foreign jurisdiction.


May the judge appear pro se in this matter?


A judge appearing pro se in a matter where the judge is representing only the judge's interests is not engaging in the practice of law in violation of Rule 65F. (See U.S. v. Martinez) The judge must insure, however, that the judge is neither directly nor indirectly representing the interests of others in this litigation. The judge must also insure that he or she does not exploit his or her judicial position in violation of Rule 65C(1) in the course of the pro se representation. Accordingly, the judge should take care in identifying himself or herself as a judge.

While Rule 65C(2) permits a judge to hold and manage investments, including real estate, Rule 65C(3) instructs the judge to manage the investments in a way that minimizes the number of cases in which the judge will be disqualified. The fact that the property and litigation are in a foreign jurisdiction would clearly minimize this risk.