Part Time Judging And Conflicts

A lawsuit between the landlord of a property occupied by tenant The Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless has been getting some press as the landlord attempts to evict it homeless services tenant.  The case has now raised a somewhat quirky issue potentially applicable to all part-time judges who practice law: whether an attorney, who is also a part-time judge, must be disqualified for what might be a passing involving in the case.


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The lawsuit was originally filed by Ichthus Community Trust.  That entity was acquired by Premium Funding Solutions.  A month ago, Louis Levinson entered an appearance for PFS.

The Code of Judicial Conduct precludes a part-time judge from acting “as layers in proceedings in which they have served as judges or in any other proceeding related thereto.”

The motion filed by the Task Force alleges that Levinson signed a transfer order related to the case while serving as a Magistrate Judge in Fulton County.  According to the Daily Report, Levinson has argued that he is not representing Ichthus, his client PFS was not a party to the case in the Magistrate Court, and the order he signed was a consent order handed to him because he was on duty that day – not because he actually held a proceeding in the case.

Without question, Magistrate Judges sign hundreds of orders without “getting involved” in the case in any meaningful way.  If your primary job is practicing law, it certainly raised the potential to cause conflicts, as alleged here.  How Judge Schwall deals with this will be interesting.

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