The Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO) issued oral advice that judges must follow a new law prohibiting compensation for solemnizing a marriage.

CJEO Oral Advice Summary 2016-019 discusses a recent amendment to the Family Code that prohibits those authorized to perform marriages, including judicial officers, from accepting a fee or gratuity for performing marriages after the first of the year. (Family Code § 400.)

Although the Code of Judicial Ethics and the Penal Code currently permit judges to accept a fee for performing marriages on the weekends and legal holidays, judges are required to follow statutory laws. (Cal. Code Jud. Ethics, canons 2, 4H(3); Penal Code § 94.5.) The committee advises that this would include the new Family Code amendment even though it is inconsistent with other laws, canons, and long standing practice. 

Justice Doug Miller
Justice Doug Miller, CJEO Vice-Chair

Until the Legislature or a court reconciles the conflicting statutes, judges have to comply with the new law. It's important for the bench to know about the change and that fees can't be accepted after the first of the year.

CJEO summarizes the oral advice it provides and posts the summaries on the CJEO website for the benefit of the bench and the public.