March 23, 2017
This responds to your inquiry (17-12) asking if, as a full-time judge, you may speak to certain not-for-profit organizations affiliated with a certain religion, including domestic and foreign parochial schools and places of worship, about your background and experience in becoming a judge, so as to encourage others to pursue a legal career. You also ask if you may accept standard speaking fees and reasonable travel expenses.
The Committee has advised that a judge may speak about his/her experience in becoming the first judge of a particular gender and ethnicity in the history of a specific judicial district. You may likewise speak both domestically and abroad about your personal experiences in being elected to the bench. However, such participation is subject to all applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct, including the public comment rule, the prohibition on impermissible ex parte communications, and the need to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. It is also permissible to promote diversity by encouraging individuals of particular backgrounds to enter the legal profession.
A full-time judge may be paid for permitted extra-judicial activities, as limited by 22 NYCRR 100.4(H)(1). Also, any amount must be “ reasonable,” not “exceed[ing] what a...[non-] judge would receive for the same activity” (id.). Also, any sum over $150.00 must be reported by 22 NYCRR 100.4[H]).
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 16-151; 15-133; and 06-103.
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