Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2001-2

Advisory Opinion No. 2001-2
Advisory Opinion No. 2001-2

Application Of Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To State Marshals

Patricia C. Lempicki, Administrative Director of the State Marshal Commission, has asked whether The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79 et seq., applies to state marshals, who have been appointed to perform many of the functions once performed under the now-defunct county sheriff system. Under Public Act 00-99, a state marshal is either "a qualified deputy sheriff incumbent on June 30, 2000" or an individual appointed by the State Marshal Commission. P.A.00-99, 7. A state marshal has "the authority to provide legal executions and service of process in the counties in this state …as an independent contractor compensated on a fee for service basis…" P.A.00-99, 7. Public Act 00-99 also establishes the State Marshal Commission itself, which consists of eight members. P.A.00-99, 8. Six of its members are appointed by legislative leaders, one by the Governor and one by the Chief Justice. The Commission is an "autonomous body within the Judicial Department for fiscal and budgetary purposes only," and has the authority, not only to appoint, but also to remove state marshals, as well as to set professional standards and requirements. Id. at 8(f), (i), and (k).

In general, the provisions of the Code of Ethics apply to public officials or state employees. As used in the Code, the term "public official" includes individuals who are appointed to any office of the legislative, judicial or executive branch of state government by, among others, the Governor, an appointee of the Governor, or by any member of the General Assembly. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79(k). The term also included "any sheriff or deputy sheriff" until that language was eliminated by Public Act 00-99, 13. As discussed above, the state marshals are appointed by the State Marshal Commission, and seven of the eight members of that Commission are appointed by legislative leaders or the Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. The definition of "public official" does not include individuals appointed by legislative or judicial appointees. Therefore, state marshals are not "public officials" for purposes of the Code of Ethics.

State marshals also do not appear to be "state employees" under the Code of Ethics. Unlike their brethren, the newly created "judicial marshals"-- who have replaced the special deputy sheriffs as providers of courthouse security and prisoner transport and are specifically designated as employees of the Judicial Department-- the state marshals are considered independent contractors. See P.A. 00-99, 2, 7. In fact, the new law states that, in general, "no person may be a state marshal and a state employee at the same time," a statement which clearly indicates a legislative intent not to treat state marshals as state employees. P.A. 00-99, 8(h). Under Public Act 00-99, state marshals are given the opportunity to participate in certain state insurance plans, but the participation is voluntary and the participant must pay the full cost of any such coverage. P.A. 00-99, 133. This opportunity alone is not enough to qualify the state marshals as state employees for purposes of the Code.

As independent contractors, state marshals will be subject to the Ethics Code in one limited manner. When a state marshal is hired by the state to perform one of his or her statutory duties, the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-86e will apply, and the state marshal will be prohibited, among other things, from using "the authority provided to the person under the contract, or any confidential information acquired in the performance of the contract, to obtain financial gain for the person, an employee of the person, or a member of the immediate family of any such person or employee." See Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-86e(a)(1), (2) and (3), 1-86e(b). The restrictions of 1-86e do not apply to contracts between state marshals and private persons.

In summary, state marshals are neither public officials nor state employees under the Code of Ethics. If this result was not intended when Public Act 00-99 was enacted, then appropriate corrective legislative action should be taken.

By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:03:54 AM