December 8, 1988
Topic: Propriety of a city court judge writing a weekly column about law and the courts in a local newspaper.
Digest: A judge may write newspaper articles on the law, provided they do not interfere with the judge’s judicial duties and that the judge does not give opinions which would cast doubt on the judges impartiality.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§100.4(a) and 100.6
A city court judge asks whether there is any ethical prohibition or limitation in writing a weekly column about the law and courtroom procedure for a local newspaper.
Section 100.4 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator states that:
A judge, subject to the proper performance of his or her judicial duties, may engage in the following quasi-judicial activities, if in doing so the judge does not cause doubt on the capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before him or her:
(a) a judge may speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in other activities concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice;
Section 100.4 of the Rules permits the judge to write articles about the law for a local newspaper, subject to this Committee’s limitation, as stated in Opinion 88-106, dated September 19, 1988, that such extrajudicial activity “cannot take place at a time that would interfere with the judge's regular judicial duties.” Furthemore, the judge must be careful not to express opinions about pending cases in any court or to present topics that would indicate the judge has a predisposition with respect to particular cases, which would cast doubt on the judge's impartiality. The articles should be consistent with the dignity and integrity of the judicial office. i
The inquiry does not refer to any compensation being paid for the work involved. Should the judge receive compensation for his articles, the amount should be consistent with the standards prescribed by section 100.6 of the Rules of the Chief