January 27 - 28, 2010
Digest: A part-time judge may not refer to his/her judicial status in advertisements for his/her private law practice.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.2(C); Opinions 08-176; 06-41; 92-125 (Vol. X); Joint Opinion 09-59/09-86
A part-time judge asks whether it is permissible to refer to his/her judicial status in advertisements for his/her law practice.
A judge must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all the judge’s activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.2) and must act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). A judge must not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance his/her own private interests or the private interests of others (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[C]).
The Committee previously has advised that a part-time lawyer judge who practices law may permit his/her law firm to include his/her judicial title in a firm biography that is published on the internet (see Joint Opinion 09-59/09-86). However, the judge must ensure that the law firm does so in compliance with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct (see Opinion 08-176 [question not whether a judge may use the internet site but, rather, how he/she does so]). The Committee also has advised that a part-time judge may not include his/her title “Village Justice” in an advertisement for the judge’s law practice that is published in the local weekly newspaper (see Opinion 92-125 [Vol. X]). And, the Committee has advised that a part-time village justice who practices law may not erect a sign on the facade of the judge’s law office advertising that he/she is a “Justice of the Peace,” authorized to solemnize marriages (see Opinion 06-41). According to the Committee, by using his/her title in an advertisement for his/her private law practice, a part-time judge appears to be exploiting his or her judicial office for private gain (see Opinion 92-125 [Vol. X]).
For the same reason, the judge in the present inquiry may not refer to his/her judicial status in advertisements for his/her law practice.