December 14, 2016
PERSONAL & CONFIDENTIAL
This responds to your inquiry (16-147) asking, on behalf of other local town and village justices and yourself, whether you may accept an invitation from a landlords’ association to participate in a panel discussion and answer questions about summary proceedings, evictions and holdover tenants. The fact that the audience members will consist only of landlords, standing alone, does not bar participation in the panel, provided the justices are willing to give a similar presentation to tenants if requested to do so.
To comply with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct (22 NYCRR part 100), the justices must speak generally about the law and not advocate how a landlord should present his/her case in order to prevail. Thus, the justices should exercise caution “to avoid the perception that [they are] providing advice on litigation strategy or tactics” (Opinion 12-44). In addition, the justices should take particular care that their remarks regarding the specified topics do not create the appearance of impropriety and do not indicate that they would decide a particular case in a certain way. The justices also must not comment on any pending or impending cases in the United States and its territories (see 22 NYCRR 100.3[B]).
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 13-140; 13-116 and 12-44, which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Div., First Dep’t (Ret.)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Family Court Judge
Acting Justice, Supreme Court