In our county we have a sitting circuit court judge; also sitting on a board of trustees for a hospital that failed .
If there is no conflict of interest-- in other words, something like the judge is ruling on a case involving the hospital--then I do not see anything unethical about this. Every state has a Code or Cannon of Judicial Ethics. I just googled West Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct and it came up. You can check those rules to see if you think anything has been breached. There is likely also a committee on judicial ethics in the state that you could call and informally ask a question regarding the situation. I hope that helps!
This isn't unusual for a judge to sit on a board or committee for something in the area. Whether it's unethical depends on whether that same committee or entity is involved in an action in court in front of that same judge. That situation would present a conflict of interest from which the judge should recuse him or herself from hearing the case.
This same situation occurs when a person in politics in one county will have criminal charges against him or her. When that happens, the court will refuse to have the case tried in that court, and transfers the case to another county to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest.
Is this a “helpful” or a “best” answer? Please mark it if it was, and I hope it was! Thank you! Nancy L. Ballast is an attorney in west Michigan, with a practice centered on family law, estate planning, and property law. Grandrapidslaw.blogspot.com
Especially in rural counties, overlapping memberships will happen. The judge needs to recuse himself from any matter involving the hospital brought in his court.
To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state (in WV, on inactive status as of 9/13), I practice on a day-to-day basis in Massachusetts. I answer questions in your state in areas of the law in which I practice, and in which I feel comfortable trying to offer you assistance based on my knowledge of specific statutes in your state and/or general principles applicable in all states. It is always best, however, to work with attorneys and court personnel in your own area to deal with specific problems and factual situations.
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