December 11, 2014
Digest: A full-time judge may not accept employment as part-time treasurer of the board of directors of a special district library financed by the local municipality.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(2)(a); 100.4(H)(1)(c)(1); Opinion 01-42.
A full-time judge asks if it is ethically permissible to serve, on a part-time basis, as the compensated treasurer of the board of directors of a special district library. The special district library was created by an act of the state legislature and the local municipality finances its operating budget. The judge would be paid a salary by the board of directors, and would participate in the municipality’s pension system. As treasurer, the judge would be required to attend the board’s monthly meeting to present a report, and would sign paychecks twice monthly.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a full-time judge from accepting appointment to a “governmental position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy in matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice” (22 NYCRR 100.4[C][a]). Based on the description set forth in the inquiry, the Committee believes the position of treasurer to the library’s board of directors is a governmental position that involves issues of fact unrelated to the improvement of the law, the legal system or administration of justice. The appointment is therefore impermissible for a full-time judge.
Moreover, a full-time judge may not “solicit or receive compensation for extra-judicial activities performed for or on behalf of: (1) New York State, its political subdivisions or any office or agency thereof,” subject to certain exceptions not applicable here (22 NYCRR 100.4[H][c]). Unlike a local library which is organized as a private not-for-profit organization (see Opinion 01-42), the special district library described herein falls within this prohibition, as it is financed by the local municipality and the employees participate in the municipal pension system. Accordingly, the proposed employment is also impermissible for a full-time judge for this separate and independent reason.