January 29, 2004
Digest: Under the circumstances described, a judge may lecture on recent Court of Appeals criminal law decisions at a Continuing Legal Education program sponsored jointly by the local Criminal Bar Association and Legal Aid Society.
Rules: 22 NYCRR § 100.3 (B) (8); 100.4 (A)(1), (3); 100.4(B); Opinion 00-120.
The inquiring judge has been invited to give a lecture at a Continuing Legal Education program jointly sponsored by the local Criminal Bar Association and Legal Aid Society. It is an open event in that judges, prosecutors and defense attorney organizations will be receiving notice of the program. A nominal fee will be charged, but the judge will not be compensated. The judge has been asked to provide a summary review of Court of Appeals criminal law decisions in the past year. As stated by the judge, “ I would not discuss cases docketed for later decision - except perhaps to note that a case is on appeal. I would not offer a personal opinion about the result in any case and would neither express approval or disapproval”.
In the opinion of the Committee there is no ethical impediment to the judge’s participation, as described. Nothing set forth in that description would “cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge”. (22 NYCRR 100.4[A])or otherwise “interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties”. 22 NYCRR 100.4 (A)(3). As the judge recognizes, public comment on pending or impending proceedings is prohibited. (22 NYCRR 100.3 [B]), and the judge intends to fully adhere to that proscription. The judge’s lecturing on recent Court of Appeals decisions, under the circumstances described is therefore a permissible avocational activity. 22 NYCRR 100.4 (B). Opinion 00-120.