October 22, 2015
Digest: A judge’s association may hold its annual conference at a hotel resort and casino owned by a sovereign Native American nation.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.1; 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.4(A)(1)-(3); Opinion 12-142.
The inquiring judge, an officer of a judge’s association, asks if the association may hold its annual three-day conference at a hotel resort and casino owned by a sovereign Native American nation. The judge states “the hotel part of the venue is separate from the gambling areas and may be accessed without ever entering the casino.”
A judge must always avoid even the appearance of impropriety (see 22 NYCRR 100.2) and must always promote public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity and impartiality (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). Thus, a judge must conduct all of his/her extra-judicial activities so they do not (1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge; (2) detract from the dignity of judicial office; or (3) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties and are not incompatible with judicial office (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[A]-).
Law-related conferences are frequently held at hotels and, in the Committee’s view, the fact that a hotel also has its own resort and casino does not, in itself, create an appearance of impropriety (cf. Opinion 12-142 [a judge may help plan a not-for-profit organization’s “casino themed” fund-raising event]). Thus, it is ethically permissible for the judge’s association to hold its annual conference at a hotel resort and casino.