April 1, 2009
Dear Justice :
This responds to your inquiry (09-51) asking whether there is any ethical prohibition to serving simultaneously as a Village Judge and a Town Judge in a town which includes the village.
The Committee’s jurisdiction is limited to issuing “advisory opinions to judges and justices of the Unified Court System concerning issues related to ethical conduct, proper execution of judicial duties, and possible conflicts between private interests and official duties” (22 NYCRR 101.1). The question you pose is a purely legal one, governed by applicable statutes and/or case law rather than the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. However, if a recognized body charged with providing legal guidance should determine that the dual service you describe is legally permissible, so serving would not violate any ethics rules or principles (see Opinion 06-161, enclosed for your convenience).
Given the nature of the inquiry, the Committee suggests you request an opinion from the Office of Court Administration’s City Town and Village Court Resource Center (1-800-232-0630) or any other recognized body charged with providing local courts with legal guidance.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow
Justice of the Supreme Court