July 3, 2008
Dear Judge :
This responds to your inquiry (08-103) asking whether it is proper to serve on the Board of Directors of a not-for-profit organization that provides educational information about alcohol and drug abuse, gambling, and other behavior which adversely affect local families. You indicate that, as a condition of a plea or sentencing, you require defendants convicted of certain minor offenses to take the Risk and Responsibility class offered by the organization.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct (Rules) state that a judge may be a member or serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, cultural, fraternal or civic organization not conducted for profit, subject to certain limitations (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C]). However, the Rules also require a judge to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge’s activities and refrain from activities that cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially or which interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties (see 22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.4[A]; 100.4[A]).
Thus, this Committee has previously determined that a judge may not serve as an Officer or Board Member of, or otherwise actively promote, a not for profit corporation or agency to which the judge, directly or indirectly, refers cases, defendants or other litigants (see Opinions 07-19; 07-02).
Accordingly, you may not continue to serve on the Board of Directors of this organization. In light of this determination, the Committee need not address your additional inquiries.
I have enclosed copies of the above-referenced opinions for your convenience.
George D. Marlow
Justice of the Supreme Court