November 13, 2017
This responds to your inquiry (17-154) asking if it is ethically permissible for you, as a part-time justice, to be president of a local, private not-for-profit cemetery in your town.
It is ethically permissible for a judge to be president of “an organization... dedicated to preserv[ing].... ethnic, cultural or other values of legitimate common interest to its members” (22 NYCRR 100.2[D]). Indeed, the Committee has previously advised that a part-time judge may serve on boards of not-for-profit entities if it is unlikely they will engage in cases “that ordinarily would come before the judge” (22 NYCRR 100.4[C][a][i]). Also, the extra-judicial activities may not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially; detract from the dignity of judicial office; or interfere with the judge’s judicial responsibilities (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[A] - ).
While a judge may not personally solicit funds or participate in other fund-raising activities, a judge may assist with planning fund-raising only if he/she does not permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising, nor permit his/her name to appear as the author or spokesperson on any fund-raising solicitations (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C][b][I], [iv]).
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 16-148 and 01-63 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