January 28, 1993
Note: This opinion appears to have been abrogated by subsequent opinions. See Opinions 14-33; 08-211; 03-51; 03-47; cf. Opinions 16-18; 10-17; 95-33. Please request guidance from the Committee before relying on this opinion.
Digest: A judge may write a letter of reference to the State Department of Education on behalf of a friend, who is applying for a license, regarding that person’s character and moral fitness.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2(c).
A judge inquires whether the judge may submit a letter of recommendation on behalf of an applicant-friend, who is applying for a license to practice acupuncture in New York State, to the New York State Department of Education. The Department of Education, as part of the process of issuing a license, requires the applicant to submit three letters of reference.
Section 100.2(c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts provides that “No judge shall lend the prestige of his or her office to advance the private interests of others; . . . No judge shall testify voluntarily as a character witness.”
As stated by this Committee in Opinions 88-10, Vol. I, 88-166, Vol. III and 91-14, Vol. VII, the transmission of a letter of recommendation as to the applicant’s good character is not prohibited by this rule.
A judge may submit a letter of good character to the Department of Education on behalf of an applicant, provided that the recommendation reflects the judge’s opinion of the applicant’s character. The judge may use his or her judicial letterhead stationery for such a letter of reference, provided that the words “Personal and Unofficial” are clearly noted on the stationery.