October 19, 2000
A full-time judge should decline an invitation to become a member of a
citizens' advisory panel which has been formed to oversee the planning,
design and use of a large parcel of land in a densely populated area in
22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(2)(a).
A full-time judge inquires whether it is permissible to accept the invitation of the local municipality to participate in a newly formed citizens' advisory panel, the purpose of which will be to oversee the planning, design and new use of a parcel of land, approximately 2,200 to 3,000 acres in size in a densely populated area. In carrying out its functions, the committee will be involved in community meetings in order to obtain comments and guidance from the public at large and will also provide a voice to the surrounding larger municipality in regards to an international competition design for the use of the parcel.
We note that the inquirer is a full-time judge. That fact call into play
section 100.4(C)(2)(a) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, which provides
A full-time judge shall not accept appointment to a governmental committee or commission or other governmental position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy in matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.
Here, the members of the citizens' advisory panel may be perceived as participating in political or quasi-political activities and not one which involves the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. Section 100.4(C)(2)(a) is therefore controlling, and the judge should decline the invitation to become a member of the committee.