Opinion 02-63

June 7, 2002


Digest:         A full-time judge may serve on an advisory panel for a proposed school of law and finance that is being established by a local high school.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.4(A); 100.4(C)(3); Opinions 91-139 (Vol. VIII); 93-27 (Vol. XI); 94-59 (Vol. XII).


         A full-time judge has been invited to serve on an advisory panel for a proposed school of law and finance that will be part of a public high school. The judge would participate in a variety of activities including addressing the PTA about parents’ legal rights and obligations; addressing student assemblies; hosting student visits to the judge’s courthouse; offering internship opportunities; and speaking with students interested in pursuing legal careers. The judge asks whether it is ethically permissible to serve on the advisory panel.

         Judges may participate in a variety of civic activities as long as such participation does not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge; detract from the dignity of judicial office; interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties; and is not incompatible with judicial office. 22 NYCRR 100. 4(A). Such activities may include serving as a non-legal advisor to a non-profit civic organization provided that the organization is not likely to be engaged in proceedings that ordinarily come before the judge or in adversary proceedings in any court. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3).

         In earlier opinions, this Committee has concluded that a judge may serve on a criminal justice advisory committee of a local community college [Opinion 88-151 (Vol. III)]; a school district committee designed to encourage parent and teacher participation in school-based planning and to improve student performance [Opinion 93-27 Vol. XI)]; and, as convener and chair of the Labor Advisory Committee to a college Center for Workers Education, the purpose of which is to facilitate the education of full-time workers who attend mostly evening classes Opinion 98-34. We see no essential distinction between such activities and what is involved in the inquiry before us. Thus, we conclude that serving on the advisory panel, as contemplated, is ethically permissible.