May 2, 2008
This responds to your inquiry (08-74) in which you asked whether judges are subject to limits in announcing their availability to perform marriage ceremonies and in receiving reimbursement of expenses.
The rules of the Chief Administrator provide that, inter alia, “[a] full-time judge shall not serve as an officer, director, manager, general partner, advisor, employee or other active participant of any business entity...” (22 NYCRR 100.4[D]) and that “[a] judge shall not engage in financial and business dealings that may reasonably be perceived to exploit the judge’s judicial position (22 NYCRR 100.4[D][a]). Accordingly, you may not engage in the “business” of performing marriages nor solicit requests for such services as a for-profit business would, or otherwise actively seek to be engaged in such activity.
As for your separate inquiry about collecting a fee for performing marriages at the courthouse during normal business hours, it appears that you may not collect the statutory fee under such circumstances. However, this Committee does not pass on legal questions, and we, therefore, refer you to General Municipal Law §805-b.
Similarly, with respect to your question regarding collecting a fee for performing marriages at the courthouse before or after normal business hours, we further suggest you refer to GML 805-b.
You may be reimbursed for reasonable travel expenses incurred in order to perform a wedding. I enclose Opinion 04-26 for your convenience, on the issue of expense reimbursement.
In light of the foregoing, we need not address the balance of your inquiry.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow
Justice of the Supreme Court