August 17, 2017
This responds to your inquiry (17-91) asking whether you may permit a full-time city court judge to serve as an unpaid hearing officer under the Public Health Law to adjudicate a certain category of health-related violations. The appointment would be made by the county health commissioner.
Pursuant to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct (22 NYCRR 100.4[C][a]):
A full-time judge shall not accept appointment to a governmental committee or commission or other governmental position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy in matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. A judge may, however, represent a country, state or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical, educational or cultural activities.
Thus, we have advised that it is ethically impermissible for a full-time judge to serve as a municipal environmental hearing officer for a town; to serve on the advisory board of a county Youth Board; serve on the state Regents Advisory Council; to serve as a member of a town Planning Board; and to serve on the Board of a county industrial development agency. Since the hearing officer position here involves a governmental agency not directly related to the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice, the judge may not serve.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 09-17; 07-112; 06-137; 01-68; and 91-26 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