March 14, 1991
Digest: A part-time judge may serve as a member of a municipal ethics committee.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.5(b) and (h)
An acting part-time judge inquires whether the judge may accept an appointment to the municipality’s ethics committee. The committee’s task is to revise the local code of ethics, which would then be adopted by the local council. The committee would also decide whether to establish a separate board of ethics or possibly that the committee might itself become the board of ethics. In the first instance the committee would be an advisory board only.
Judges are permitted to participate in a variety of civic activities, as long as their activities “do not reflect adversely upon impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties” (22 NYCRR 100.5[b]). Section 100.5(h) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator states that part-time judges may accept public or private employment “provided that such employment is not incompatible with judicial office and does not conflict or interfere with the proper performance of the judge’s duties”.
A review of the material submitted by the inquirer indicates that alleged violations of the Municipal Code of Ethics would not come before the city court, and that the activities of the Board of Ethics would not be likely to be highly controversial. Accordingly, the Committee is of the opinion that a part-time acting city judge may accept an appointment to a municipal Board of Ethics.
See this Committee’s Opinions 89-155 and 89-156 (Vol. V) and 90-167 (Vol. VI).