September 14, 2004
Digest: A judge, running for re-election, may accept an offer of support for his/her candidacy from an elected official who recently appeared before the judge in a Family Court matter the parties resolved by stipulation, without any participation by the judge.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2; Opinion 92-22 (Vol. IX).
A judge who is campaigning for re-election inquires as to the propriety of accepting an offer of assistance and support for his/her candidacy from an elected official who recently appeared before the judge in Family Court. The inquiring judge states that the parties, represented by attorneys, reached an agreement without his/her intervention on the first court appearance, and they placed a stipulation on the record.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct require that “A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge’s activities. 22 NYCRR 100.2. This Committee previously has held that the test for “appearance of impropriety” is whether the conduct would create in reasonable minds a perception that the judge’s ability to carry out his/her responsibilities with integrity, impartiality and competence is impaired. Opinion 92-22 (Vol. IX).
The Committee concludes - inasmuch as the matter was resolved according to the inquiring judge in an apparently non-adversarial and routine manner on the parties’ first appearance and before any offer of political assistance was made by the official - that it is neither unethical nor improper for the judge to accept the offer of assistance.