September 7, 2006
Digest: A judge may serve as a member of a bar association’s Task Force on the Mandatory Retirement of Judges.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3); Opinions 04-129; 02-84; 98-133 (Vol. XVII); 95-42 (Vol. XIII); 88-100 (Vol. II).
A judge asks whether he/she may serve on a bar association’s “Task Force on the Mandatory Retirement of Judges.” The goal of the Task Force “is to examine New York’s current system of mandatory retirement for judges at age 70 and to make recommendations to the Association’s Executive Committee on whether this system should be retained, modified, or eliminated.”
Judges may participate in the activities of organizations devoted to the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3). This obviously includes bar associations. Opinion 04-129. Indeed, participation in such activities is to be encouraged. Opinion 88-100 (Vol. II). Such participation might include consideration of a variety of issues, all of which involve the law, the legal system or the administration of justice, e.g., revisions of the Penal Law (Opinion 95-42 (Vol. XIII)), legal referral services (Opinion 04-129), or professional ethics. Opinion 02-84. A judge may also accept an appointment by the Governor to serve on a task force to study the parole system and to recommend changes. Opinion 98-133 (Vol. XVII).
The activity in the inquiry before us clearly falls within the range of such approved extra-judicial activities. Given the absence of any likelihood that the Task Force will be engaged in proceedings before the judge or engaged regularly in adversary proceedings in any court, it is our opinion that the judge may serve as a member of the bar association’s Task Force on the Mandatory Retirement of Judges.