December 2, 2004
Digest: A part-time lawyer-judge may participate as co-chairman of a county bar association’s Legal Referral Service Committee.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(A), 100.4(B),100.4( C)(3); Opinion 02-72.
A part-time lawyer-judge inquires if it is permissible for the judge to accept a co-chairmanship position of a legal referral service committee of a county bar association. As co-chairman, the judge will preside over meetings of the Lawyer Referral Service Committee, draft agenda items, address issues concerning the operation of the committee and make recommendations for its continued operation. The actual referrals will be made by the staff of the bar association referral service office based on criteria established by the committee.
Section 100.4(A) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct states that: a judge may participate in extra-judicial activities that do not “(1) cast doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially; (2) detract from the dignity of judicial office; or (3) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties and are not incompatible with judicial office”. 22 NYCRR 100.4(A). In particular, a judge may write, lecture, teach and participate in the activities of organizations devoted to the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. 22 NYCRR 100.4 (B), 100.4( C)(3) See, e.g. Opinion 02-72.
The position in question appears to fall within the parameters of permissible extra-judicial activity. Thus, the Committee sees no ethical impediment to the inquiring judge serving in this capacity.