April 18, 2002
Digest: A full-time judge should not serve on a community services board of a municipal department of mental health.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(2) (a); Opinion 89-143 (Vol. IV).
A full-time judge has been invited to serve as a member of a community service board of a municipality’s department of mental health. Members of the board receive no compensation, and are responsible for reviewing the work of the department to ensure that it is providing statutorily mandated services. The judge asks whether it is ethically permissible to serve on the board.
Section 100.4(C)(2)(a) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct provides, in part, as follows:
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.
In Opinion 89-143 (Vol. IV), this Committee concluded that a full-time judge is prohibited from holding a position with a county community services board of a mental health department because the board was not a governmental entity that was concerned with issues of fact or policy involving the “improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.” This opinion appears to be dispositive. Thus, the inquiring judge should not serve on the community services board of the municipal department of mental health.