June 25, 2013
Dear Judge :
This responds to your inquiry (13-20) asking whether you may serve as chair of a bar association committee that nominates association members for various professional and community awards. You indicate that the bar association president, not the committee chair, signs the committee’s correspondence.
A judge must avoid even the appearance of impropriety (see 22 NYCRR 100.2) and must always act to promote public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity and impartiality (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). A judge must not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance anyone’s private interests (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[C]).
The Committee previously has advised that a judge may write a letter nominating an individual or an organization to receive an award (see Opinions 10-164 [employee for probation department award]; 08-175 [not-for-profit organization for bar association award]; 08-92 [former colleague for professional award]; 02-118 [attorney for bar association award]). The Committee also has advised that a judge may assist a not-for-profit organization in selecting scholarship recipients (see Opinions 09-238; 08-193).
Therefore, it is ethically permissible for you to serve as chair of a bar association committee that nominates association members for various professional and community awards.
I have enclosed Opinions 10-164, 09-238, 08-193, 08-175, 08-92 and 02-118 for your convenience.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)