October 23, 2008
Digest: A law clerk may serve on the Character and Fitness Committee.
Rules: Judiciary Law 90(1); 90(1)(c); CPLR 9401; Opinion 95-167 (Vol. XIV).
A judge asks whether he/she may permit his/her law clerk to serve on an Appellate Division Committee on Character and Fitness. The purpose of such a statutory committee is to investigate the character and fitness of applicants seeking admission to the New York State (see Judiciary Law 90; CPLR 9401). Committee members are not compensated for their service but are entitled to reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of their duties (see Judiciary Law 90[c]).
In Opinion 95-167 (Vol. XIV), we advised that a part-time judge may serve on a Character and Fitness Committee of the Appellate Division. We see nothing in Part 100 that would suggest a different result for a judge’s personal appointee.
The judge's law clerk may wish to contact the Unified Court System's Office of Court Administration, the agency with the ultimate authority to interpret Part 50 of the Chief Judge's Rules, for further guidance on any issues that may arise under the Rules Governing Conduct of Nonjudicial Court Employees. (Contact: ETHICS HELPLINE: 1-888-28-ETHIC.)