September 14, 2004
Digest: A judge should not serve on a local “citizens advisory committee” that will develop a procedure for students to report incidents of sexual, physical, or verbal abuse.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.1, 100.2(A), 100.4(A)(1-3); Opinions 90-25 [Vol. V]; 93-102 [Vol. XI]; 99-61 [Vol. XVIII]; 99-77 [Vol. XVIII].
A judge inquires about propriety of serving on a local “citizens advisory committee” that will develop a procedure for students who participate in school sponsored extra-curricular events to report incidents of sexual, physical, or verbal abuse.
Section 100.4(A) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct provides that a judge shall conduct all their extra-judicial activities so that they do not “(1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge; (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.” Additionally, the rules provide that a judge “shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary” and “shall uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.” 22 NYCRR 100.1, 100.2(A).
In applying these rules, the Committee has advised judges that, under the circumstances shown, participation in activities, such as the planning and development of a Youth Court (Opinion 93-102 [Vol. XI]); membership on the advisory board of a neighborhood crime prevention program (Opinion 90-25 [Vol. V]); and co-chair of a citizens task force to reduce teen violence (Opinion 99-77 [Vol. XVIII]) was not improper. However, unlike these prior matters, the current inquiry deals with establishing a procedure for reporting abuse, from which it might be inferred that participation in the formulation of such a policy constitutes an advance commitment to adhere to the agreed upon procedures. Such a commitment would clearly impinge upon the independence of the judiciary. See Opinion 99-61 [Vol. XVII]. Furthermore, since the judge’s participation in this particular citizens advisory committee may involve matters that would come before the judge, we conclude the judge should not participate.