March 11, 1993
Digest: A full-time judge may gratuitously inform the Senate Judiciary Committee of facts personally known about a nominee for a federal judgeship.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.4(b).
A full-time judge wishes to write a letter to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee to inform its members about the past conduct of a current nominee for a federal court judgeship. The inquiring judge states that the nominee, who held a prosecutorial position approximately 20 years ago, at that time made public statements implicating the judge in a criminal investigation, stating further than an announcement would be made of the names of those who would later be cleared. The inquiring judge asserts that the prosecutor never called the judge before any grand jury, and ignored requests to investigate or publicly clear the judge’s name.
The applicable rule is section 100.4(b) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator, which permits a judge to consult with legislative bodies on “matters concerning the administration of justice.”
In the opinion of this Committee, the fitness of a nominee under consideration for an appointive judicial office is a “matter concerning the administration of justice.” However, we caution that a judge may gratuitously convey only factual information to the Senate Judiciary Committee, least it otherwise appear the judge is engaging in public political comment about the judicial selections of the executive branch.