January 12, 1989
NOTE: This opinion has been modified by Opinion 10-54.
Topic: May a part-time town justice hold a position with a law firm in which his principal duty would be to lobby the state legislature on behalf of various clients.
Digest : A part-time town justice may not also be employed as a political lobbyist.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§100.4(b); 100.5(h); 100.7(a)
A part-time town justice, who is also an attorney, asks if he may hold a position with a law firm in which his principal duty would be to lobby the state legislature on behalf of various clients including trade organizations, private corporations and educational institutions. His duties as lobbyist would include preparing legal memoranda on issues and legislation affecting these clients and presenting their views to the members and staffs of the legislature and executive chambers. He would also attend political fundraising gatherings for the purpose of having access to legislature members and their staff.
Section 100.5(h) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator permits part-time judges to practice law as long as it is not incompatible with their judicial duties. Section 100.4(b) permits a judge to appear at public hearings before an executive or legislative body, but only on matters concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice, and to consult with an executive or legislative body or official or their staff, but only on matters concerning the administration of justice. In addition, section 100.7(a) prohibits a judge from attending political gatherings except when campaigning for re-election.
The lobbying activity here is political in nature, and does not concern the administration of justice. Since the duties required by this position are incompatible with those of a judge, the part-time justice may not act as a lobbyist. [See Opinion 88-80 of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics.]