Revised Opinion 02-26
Amended December 8, 2016
NOTE: This opinion has been revised for clearer consistency with Opinions 02-07, 05-29, and 15-173.
Digest: A judge should not write a letter of recommendation encouraging a non-judicial appointing authority to appoint an attorney to an administrative law judge vacancy.
Rules: 22NYCRR 100.2(c); Opinions 88-10 (Vol. I); 88-166 (Vol. III); 90-46 (Vol. V); 93-26 (Vol. XI); 96-117 (Vol. XV).
A judge inquires about the propriety of writing a letter of recommendation encouraging a non-judicial appointing authority to appoint an attorney to an administrative law judge vacancy in another government agency.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a judge from lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others to testify voluntarily as a character witness. 22NYCRR 100.2(c).
This Committee has determined that a judge may write letters of reference in various circumstances, including but not limited to, admission to colleges or law schools, admission to the bar, and in various other non-court related circumstances. Opinions 88-10 (Vol. I); 88-166 (Vol. III); 90-46 (Vol. V); 93-26 (Vol. XI). However, this Committee has also specifically stated that a judge may not, at the request of a judge seeking appointment, submit a letter in support of re-appointment to the Mayor’s Committee on the Judiciary, but may respond to an inquiry that might be made by that body regarding the re-appointment. Opinion 96-117 (Vol. XV).
We conclude that it would be inappropriate for a judge to voluntarily recommend to an outside appointing authority, that an individual be appointed to an administrative law judge vacancy in another government agency. Should the appointing authority contact the judge, it would not be inappropriate for the judge to set forth his or her observations concerning the abilities of the candidate in relation to the position sought. Under no circumstances should the judge recommend that the appointment be made.