Opinion 90-67

June 7, 1990

PLEASE NOTE: "New York's Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not include a provision analogous to Minnesota's 'announce clause.'  The pledges or promises clause … does not prohibit judicial candidates from articulating their views on legal issues" (Matter of Watson, 100 N.Y.2d 290 [2003]; cf. Republican Party of Minn. v White, 536 US 765 [2002]).  


Digest:         A judge running for re-election may, during the campaign, refer to his or her previous decisions, and comment on an opponent's qualifications, but may not comment on disputed legal or political issues.


Rules:          Canon 7(B)(1)(C) of the Code of Judicial Conduct; 22 NYCRR          §§100.3(a)(6); 100.2(a).


         A judge who is running for re-election inquiries about statements and comments that may be made during the campaign regarding the judge's previous decisions, the judge's opinion as to current issues, such as the death penalty, and abortion, and comments about the judge's opponent's professional career.

         Section 100.3(a)(6) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator prohibits a judge from publicly commenting about pending matters in any court. Thus, the judge may refer to the judge's own previous decisions, where an appeal is not pending, but the discussion should not go beyond the judge's published decisions.

         Canon 7(B)(1)(c) of the Code of the Judicial Conduct provides that a candidate for judicial office should not announce his or her views on disputed political or legal issues. Thus, the judge may not comment on such hotly debated issues as abortion and the death penalty.

         Pursuant to 22 NYCRR 100.2(a), a judge must conduct himself or herself in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judicial system. Canon 7(B)(1)(c) of the Code of Judicial Conduct allows a judicial candidate to state his or her qualifications but not to misrepresent them. The judge also may discuss the qualifications of the judge's opponent, but, as with all campaign statements, the discussion must be truthful and dignified (see also Opinion 882 of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York [1973]).