May 7, 1992
Digest: A full-time judge may not accept appointment as consul of the government of a foreign country nor serve as a director of a not-for profit corporation which fosters cultural, economic, and professional exchanges between New York regions and the foreign country and which passes on visa applications.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.5(g).
A full-time judge inquires whether the judge may accept an honorary appointment as consul of the government of a foreign country, with principal duties relating to matters of tourism and trade, including providing investment advice to business firms. The judge also inquires whether the judge may serve as a director and participant in a not-for-profit corporation which fosters cultural, economic, social and professional exchanges between New York areas and central Europe, primarily a specific foreign country. One of the functions of the corporation would be to screen and recommend the issuance of visas for persons who wish to visit the United States.
Section 100.5(g) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator requires that “no judge shall accept an appointment to a governmental committee, commission, or other position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.” Since the honorary consul appointment would be made by the government of the foreign country and the primary duties of the consul relate to tourism and travel the judge may not accept the appointment. We do not pass on the legality of accepting a diplomatic position with a foreign government.
Similarly, in passing on visas as a member of the corporation, the judge would be passing on issues of fact or policy, and accordingly, should not serve as director or participant in the not-for-profit corporation.