March 1, 1990
NOTE: This Opinion is modified by Opinions 91-124, 00-50, and 07-161. Please review those Opinions before relying on Opinion 90-19.
Digest: A full-time judge may serve as a member of an advisory committee of a mediation center.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4 (c)
A full-time judge inquires if he/she may serve as a voluntary and unpaid member of an advisory board of a community mediation center.
The mediation center is a private not-for-profit corporation, whose purpose is to make mediation available to the public. Referrals are received from schools, courts, police and community agencies and the public at large. The judge refers approximately ten or fifteen families annually to the center. Its funding is mainly from the Unified Court System, the County Division of Youth and other public sources. The daily management and direction of the center is by a board of directors which is independent of the advisory board.
The advisory board, composed of various professionals from the community, will make suggestions to the board of directors. The advisory board will have no fundraising activities and will meet once or twice a year.
Section 100.4 (c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of Courts provides:
A judge, subject to the proper performance of his or her judicial duties, may engage in the following quasi-judicial activities, if in doing so the judge does not cast doubt on the capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before him or her.
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(c) A judge may serve as a member, officer or director of an organization or governmental agency devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.
This rule enables judges to make their experience available to organizations engaged in the advancement of the legal system. The mediation center is such an organization, as it assists parties by eliminating the confrontational environment of the courtroom and helps ease the backlog of court calendars. The judge’s occasional referral of cases to the mediation center does not create a conflict of interest which would prevent his/her serving on the advisory committee of the mediation center.
It appears that there will be no intrusion upon or conflict with the judge’s judicial duties; and that the judge will in no way participate in either actual mediation sessions or fund-raising activities.
The Committee therefore believes the judge may serve as a member of the advisory committee of the mediation center.