A law clerk in Maryland can write a law journal article about employment laws on medical marijuana as long as the piece doesn’t identify the court where he works or suggest whether the judge has an opinion about the issue, the Maryland Judicial Ethics Committee held.
An unnamed circuit judge, who is running for re-election later this year, asked the committee whether there is a problem with a law clerk writing a paper about employee protections for medical marijuana use and publishing it in a journal of law. The article advocates for a change in law to boost protections.
Although the circuit judge didn’t send the committee a copy of the article, the committee determined that it was “political in nature.” A law clerk may freely participate in political activity, according to the committee.
But there is a limit. A judge should only approve such an article being published if there is an assurance “that the opinion of the law clerk cannot reasonably be understood to be the opinion of” the judge, according to the ethics committee.
“In other words, the article may be published without violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct only if it is silent as to the law clerk’s relationship with Requestor and the Maryland Judiciary,” the opinion issued Monday says. “Therefore, Requestor, before permission is granted to publish the article, should review the article and ensure that the clerk’s relationship to Requestor, Requestor’s court, and the Maryland Judiciary is not in any way identified.”
The Maryland opinion request number is 2022-08.