January 23, 2003
Digest: A judge should not write to the County Legislature asking it to intervene to resolve a labor-management impasse between the county and its correction officers.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.2(C); Opinions 99-158, Vol. XVIII; 99-37, Vol. XVII; 96-41, Vol. XIV
The inquiring village justice has been asked by Sheriff’s deputies who serve as correction officers at the county jail to write to the County Legislature, as a village justice, urging it to intervene and “settle” a contract with the correction officers, who contend that the County Executive is not negotiating in good faith.
The Committee is of the opinion such a letter should not be written, although we acknowledge there may be occasions when a judge might urge a particular course of action by a governmental body when the issue is directly related to the administration of justice. See e.g., Opinions 99-158, Vol. XVIII; 99-37, Vol. XVII; 96-41, Vol. XIV. But here, the issue simply involves an impasse in a labor-management contract negotiation which apparently has yet to have any impact on the county jail’s operation, i.e., the administration of justice. By writing such a letter, the judge would appear to be adopting the correction officers view that the County Executive is not negotiating in good faith. The judge could thus be seen as “lend[ing] the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interest of others,” a prohibited act under section 100.2(C) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. We therefore advise the judge not to send the requested letter.