December 8, 1988
Topic: A county court judge serving on the board of directors of a society for the prevention of cruelty to children.
Digest: A county court judge may not serve on a board of directors of a society for the prevention of cruelty to children if its employees are likely to appear regularly in family court.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.5(b)(1).
The committee is asked whether a county court judge, who is occasionally assigned to preside in the family court, may serve on the board of directors of a local society for the prevention of cruelty to children. The organization’s purpose is to provide social services, as well as legal services by law guardians, for abused and neglected children. While the organization does not institute legal proceedings in family court, one of its social workers frequently services as guardian ad litem. In addition, two other social workers with the group work in a supervised visitation program, and may be called as witnesses in family court occasionally.
The controlling rule concerning judicial participation in civic and charitable activities is 22 NYCRR §100.5(b)(1).
A judge shall not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before him or her or will be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.
Since social workers and law guardians assigned by the society to assist and represent children who require protection pursuant to the Family Court Act, are likely to appear regularly in family court, judges should not serve on the society’s board of directors. The fact that the inquiry is made by a county court judge does not alter the outcome because the rule proscribes membership by a judge in an organization if the organization is likely to be involved in proceedings in any court.