April 19, 2001
A judge may participate in a judicial seminar dealing with evidentiary
issues and consult with other judges about such issues, but should not
publicly comment on pending or impending cases.
22 NYCRR 100.3(B)(6)(c); 100.3(B)(8); 100.4(B);
Opinions 01-03; 99-126/129; 99-113; 95-105
(Vol. XIII); 94-57 (Vol. XII).
A judge inquires whether it is permissible to participate in a judicial seminar relating to evidentiary issues. The judge is a member of the committee which is planning the seminar. Attendees will be requested to submit a brief statement of an evidentiary issue which they are about to confront in an upcoming matter. The issue will then be addressed by one of a group of panelists.
A judge's participation in the seminar is authorized by section 100.4(B) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct which states that "A judge may speak, write, lecture, [and] teach [subject to the requirements of this Part]." In accordance with this rule, the Committee has stated that a judge may teach law. Opinions 98-121 (Vol. XVII); 94-57 (Vol. XII); 92-05. Such teaching will obviously involve discussion of legal issues.
But, a judge should avoid public comment about pending or impending cases, even where there is some educational aspect to the particular occasion. See Opinions 01-03; 99-126/129; 99-113; 95-105 (Vol. XIII). Here, we have been informed that although particular issues that are being discussed may soon come before a judge, the discussion will not involve any public comment about the case. In this connection, we note that section 100.3(B)(6)(c) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct permits a judge to consult with other judges. 22 NYCRR 100.3(B)(6)(c). And the seminar in question is a judicial seminar. Thus, to the extent that participation is, in effect, a consultation with other judges, and only other judges, discussion of such issues is permissible.