April 4, 1989
Topic: Whether a town justice who formerly was a town constable may remain a member of the county constables’ association.
Digest: A town justice who formerly was a town constable may not retain membership in the county constables’ association.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2(a)
A town justice who formerly was a town constable asks whether he may retain membership in the county constables’ association. The members of the association meet once a month to discuss problems the constables are experiencing in the performance of their duties, which include patrolling roads, serving legal papers, answering complaints of residents, and performing minor police work.
The Committee notes that section 100.2(a) of the Rules of Judicial Conduct requires that “a judge shall ... conduct himself or herself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
It is the Committee’s view that membership by a town justice in an association of active constables, or attendance and participation in the business meetings of the association would diminish in the public eye the impartiality of the justice with respect to any case involving constables. Therefore, the Committee concludes that a town justice should not be a member of, or participate in the business meetings of, a constables’ association. However, the Committee in no way intends to preclude justices from attending purely social functions of the association, which is permissible, and the Committee in no way intends to preclude justices from retaining membership in associations or organizations of retired or former law enforcement, prosecutorial, public defender or other such officials, which also is permissible.