July 29, 2013
Dear Judge :
This responds to your inquiry (13-63) asking whether you may meet privately with your state legislator to discuss pending legislation that proposes judicial upgrades for certain New York State courts. The legislation is part of the Office of Court Administration’s legislative program.
A judge must always avoid even the appearance of impropriety (see 22 NYCRR 100.2) and act to promote public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity and impartiality (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). A judge may speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in other activities concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[B]).
The Committee previously has advised that a judge may write to and lobby legislators about matters concerning the law, the legal system and/or the administration of justice (see Opinion 09-166 [judges may lobby in support of legislation concerning the legal system and the administration of justice]; 09-50 [municipal board’s vote to dissolve local court]; 02-10 [legislation that would grant peace officer status to a court officer]; 99-158 [Vol. XVIII] [impact of reduction in mental health staff on the courts]; 96-41 [Vol. XIV] [retirement benefits for non-judicial employees of the Unified Court System]).
You also are permitted to contact legislators about legislation proposing judicial upgrades for certain New York State courts, including meeting privately with your state legislator.
I have enclosed Opinions 09-166, 09-50, 02-10, 99-158 (Vol. XVIII) and 96-41 (Vol. XIV) for your convenience.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)