April 25, 2013
Digest: A part-time judge may not conduct a management study for the police department that appears in the judge’s court.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.1; 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.4(A)(1)-(3); 100.4(D)(1)(b); 100.6(B)(4); Opinions 12-32; 05-50; 03-95.
A part-time judge asks if he/she may conduct a management study for the police department that appears in the judge’s court. The judge advises the study would require him/her to interact extensively with the Chief of Police, the supervisors and officers of the department. According to the inquiring judge, the study would involve an in-depth analysis of the department, including, inter alia, examining police management, patrol deployment, rules, regulations, personnel assignments, sick leave, vacation scheduling, overtime, and collective bargaining agreements.
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 may engage in extra-judicial activities that do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge, detract from the dignity of judicial office, or interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties and are not incompatible with judicial office (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[A]-). In addition, part-time judges may accept public employment in a federal, state or municipal department or agency if the employment is not incompatible with judicial office and does not conflict or interfere with the proper performance of the judge’s duties (see 22 NYCRR 100.6[B]). However, a judge must not engage in business dealings that involve the judge with any business, organization or activity that ordinarily will come before the judge (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[D][b]).
The Committee previously has advised that a part-time town justice should not serve as a private consultant to the New York State Police reviewing open cases and advising on the use of new forensic technologies to help solve such cases (see Opinion 03-95); as an adjoining municipality’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety, a position that involves various law enforcement functions (see Opinion 05-50); or as a certified forensic science expert for any law enforcement agency that frequently appears in the judge’s court, such as the New York State Police (see Opinion 12-32). In the Committee’s view, such employment is incompatible with judicial office as the judge would have a special relationship with law enforcement that would result in an appearance of impropriety and cast doubt on the judge’s impartiality (see Opinion 03-95).
Similarly, the judge may not conduct a management study for the police department that appears in the judge’s court.