December 21, 2001
Digest: A part-time judge may solemnize a marriage during the course of a television news broadcast and receive a gift from the bride and groom no greater than $75.00, but may not accept any compensation from the television station for appearing on the program.
Rule: Gen. Mun. Law § 805-b; 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(1)(a).
A part-time judge asks whether he/she may perform a wedding ceremony as part of a television news broadcast which is featuring a news story on the surge in marriages following the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
The Committee does not believe it is improper for the judge to perform the wedding ceremony under the circumstances stated. Further the judge may accept a gift from the bride and groom in an amount no greater than $75.00, as provided for in section 805-b of the General Municipal Law. But the judge may not accept any compensation from the television station for appearing as the officiant. Although the inquirer is a part-time judge and thus is presumably entitled to engage in extra-judicial remunerative activity, acceptance of compensation from the television station would, in our view, contravene section 805-b, and, moreover, could reasonably be perceived as a financial and business dealing that is exploiting the judge's judicial position in violation of section 100.4(D)(1)(a) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.