January 29, 2015
Digest: A town justice should not simultaneously serve as County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator, since its duties involve various law enforcement functions.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.4(C)(2)(b); 100.4(D)(1)(a)-(c); 100.6(B)(4); Opinion 05-50.
A part-time justice asks if he/she may accept employment as the County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator in the county where the judge presides. The position directly reports to the Director of Public Safety and is responsible for planning, promoting and implementing county emergency medical services and for coordination with multiple state and local agencies. Among other typical work activities, the position “acts as a representative of the Director of Public Safety as required” and “actively participates in Bureau of Public Safety meetings.”
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 part-time judge 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]; see also 22 NYCRR 100.4[D][a]-[c] [general limits on a judge’s financial and business dealings]). Among other restrictions, a judge must not accept appointment or employment as a peace officer or police officer as those terms are defined in section 1.20 of the Criminal Procedure Law (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C][b]).
In applying these provisions, the Committee has advised that certain positions that “do not have peace officer status” are nonetheless incompatible with judicial office because of the “non-judicial employment’s apparent connection with law enforcement functions” (Opinion 05-50). Indeed, the Committee has advised that a town justice should not simultaneously serve as Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety for a municipality adjoining the town in which the justice serves, as “the responsibilities of that office appear as inextricably intertwined with the supervision and implementation of various law enforcement functions” (id.).
Although this judge does not say the County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator has peace officer status, this position reports to the Director of Public Safety and “acts as a representative of the Director of Public Safety as required,” much as a deputy director of public safety would. Also, the County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator “actively participates in Bureau of Public Safety meetings.” Thus, the duties of this position appear as inextricably intertwined with various law enforcement functions, and thus is incompatible with judicial office (see Opinion 05-50; 22 NYCRR 100.4[C][b]; 100.6[B]).