March 11, 2004
Digest: A judge may not attend a “Task Force Conference” organized by a caucus of state legislators, because the programs are of a legislative and political nature.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1)(c), (g); Opinion 97-152 (Vol. XVI); Joint Opinion 96-73/96-80 (Vol. XIV).
A judge asks whether it would be proper to attend a three-day “New York State Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force Conference” in Albany, New York.
Although there are educational and cultural activities that are planned, this annual event also includes in-depth discussions of legislative and topical issues affecting the community, and workshops and seminars where current state issues are discussed, debated, and resolutions are recommended. The program also includes a youth leadership institute, in which mock legislative sessions of both houses will be held.
Section 100.5 of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibits political activity by judges. Sub-paragraph (A)(1)(c) prohibits judges from “engaging in any partisan political activity” and sub-paragraph (A)(1)(g) prohibits judges from “attending political gatherings.” The Task Force Conference would undoubtedly be a political and legislative gathering, since, in part at least, it clearly has political overtones. Consequently, the judge may not attend. Opinion 97-152 (Vol. XVI); [a judge may not attend a “legislative weekend” organized by a caucus of state legislators]; see also Joint Opinion 96-73/96-80 (Vol. XIV).