December 5, 1989
Digest: Elections - An incumbent town justice may not take a leave of absence to campaign for an elective non-judicial office.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.7 of Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 7A(3)
A town justice inquires whether he may take a leave of absence from his judicial office to campaign for election to the office of town supervisor.
Section 100.7 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides :
No judge during a term of office shall hold any office in a political party or organization or contribute to any political campaign or take part in any political campaign except his or her own campaign for elective judicial office.
This rule clearly prohibits judges from engaging in partisan political activity except to pursue their own candidacy for re-election or for election to some other judicial office. No other political activity is permitted. The rule’s prohibition of political activity by judges would be frustrated by permitting judges to campaign for non-judicial office during a leave of absence.
Canon 7A (3) of the Code of Judicial Conduct adopted by the New York State Bar Association explicitly states:
A judge should resign his office when he becomes a candidate either in a party primary or in a general election for a non-judicial office, except that he may continue to hold his judicial office while being a candidate for election to or serving as a delegate in a state constitutional convention, if he is otherwise permitted by law to do so.
Thus, a part-time judge must resign from his or her judicial position before campaigning for election to a political office.