June 7, 2002
Digest: The justice court’s stationery may include the town logo, but should not include the town supervisor’s name.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.1; Opinion 93-48 (Vol XI).
A part-time town justice asks whether it is ethically permissible to include the name of the town supervisor in the upper left-hand corner of the justice court’s stationery.
In Opinion 93-48 (Vol. XI), this Committee concluded that there is no ethical objection to a village justice court using the standard village stationery, which included the mayor’s name in the letterhead. The present inquiry, however, presents a different set of facts in that the town supervisor’s name would appear on stationery used exclusively for justice court correspondence.
Section 100.1 of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct requires all judges to “. . . uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.” In the Committee’s view, including the town supervisor’s name in the upper left-hand corner of the court’s stationery may imply that the judge and the court are subject to oversight by the town supervisor. The town supervisor, however, oversees the executive branch of the town government, not the judicial branch. In the Committee’s view, therefore, it is preferable that separate court stationery not include the town supervisor’s name but it may depict the town’s logo.