January 25, 2001
An administrative or supervisory judge may respond to an oral request from
a screening panel in connection with the reappointment of judges and need
not require a formal written request for information.
22 NYCRR 100.2(C);
Opinion 98-123 (Vol. XVII).
An administrative judge regularly receives inquiries from screening committees in connection with the reappointment of sitting judges. On occasion, where reappointment has not been approved, the inquirer thereafter learns "that there are issues relating to the judge's candidacy which need to be addressed." The judge asks whether as the judge's immediate supervisor, he or she may write to the panel, and whether Opinion 98-123 (Vol. XVII) precludes the judge's "written response, absent the [screening] committee's formal request.
In Opinion 98-123 (Vol. XVII), the Committee did state that a judge may respond to a written request from a screening panel concerning reappointment. Upon further consideration, the Committee concludes that an administrative judge (or a judge in a similar supervisory capacity) need not require a written request before providing information to a screening panel, especially where such action is a continuation of the judge's role in assisting in the evaluation process. To honor such a request, under these circumstances, whether verbal or in writing, is not unethical, and we thus modify Opinion 98-123 (Vol. XVII) to accord with the views expressed herein. This modification does not, of course, alter the proscription against writing a letter on behalf of a person seeking reappointment on the judge's own initiative or at the request of the candidate. Such action would still be violative of section 100.2(C) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.