October 23, 1990
Note: To the extent this opinion is inconsistent with Opinion 09-180, it has been modified by the subsequent opinion.
Digest: A judge may attend and vote at a town political caucus held for the purpose of nominating political candidates and where all registered members of the party may vote, provided the judge does not participate in any discussion or otherwise indicate a preference for a particular candidate, and the voting is done by secret ballot.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2(c); 100.7(c) and (e)
A part-time judge has inquired whether the judge may attend and vote at a town caucus, held for the purpose of nominating political candidates, where all registered members of the party may attend and vote. Section 100.2 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides, in part, that “[n]o judge shall lend the prestige of his or her office to advance the private interests of others....” In addition, section 100.7(c) states that “[p]articipation, either directly or indirectly, in any political campaign for any office, except his or her own campaign fro elective judicial office” is prohibited. “Any other activity of a partisan political nature” is also prohibited [22 NYCRR 100.7(e)].
While there is no proscription against a judge attending and voting at a town political caucus, such attendance and voting cannot be done in such manner as to convey a preference for a particular candidate. Therefore, a judge must not participate in any discussions regarding candidates, and may only vote by secret ballot.