June 13, 1991
Digest: A judge may serve as a member of the board of directors of a local bar association, with certain restrictions.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§100.4(c); 100.7(e).
A full-time judge inquires whether the judge may serve on the board of directors of a local bar association. The judge states that board members have general charge over the affairs, property, and expenditures of the organization. Their specific duties include reviewing and assessing association activities; issuing an annual report; providing recommendations as to association policies, projects, and activities; arranging an annual audit of accounts; making interim appointments to fill officer vacancies; making removal recommendations; and holding hearings for both officers and members of the association.
Section 100.4(c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts provides:
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. He or she may assist such an organization in raising funds and may participate in their management and investment, but shall not personally participate in public fundraising activities. He or she may make recommendations to public and private fund-granting agencies on projects and programs concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.
In general, the judge may serve on the board of directors of the local bar association performing the functions referred to in the first paragraph, subject, however, to restrictions as to activities which would be inappropriate for a judge.
Among the restrictions which the judge should observe is that he or she should not participate in the ranking or evaluation of judicial candidates, and should make such nonparticipation clear so as to avoid any appearance of impropriety (See, 22 NYCRR §§100.4(c), 100.7(e); Canons 2, 4 and 7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct). In addition, the judge should not participate in removal recommendations and hearings, if these removals ultimately result in litigation before the judge's court.