Digest: A retired Supreme Court Justice serving as a Judicial Hearing Officer may not make political contributions or attend political rallies.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.7; Code of Judicial Conduct, Canons 7 (A)(1)( c); 7(A)(4); Opinion 92-73, Vol IX.
A retired Supreme Court Justice serving as a Judicial Hearing Officer inquires whether a Judicial Hearing Officer may (1) contribute to local political campaigns or (2) attend political rallies. The political campaign and political rallies in question are to be held in the Judicial Hearing Officer’s home county, but not in any of the several counties in which the Judicial Hearing Officer serves.
Section 100.7 (a) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator states that “[n]o judge during a term of office shall. . . contribute to any . . . political campaign or take part in any political campaign except his or her own. . . Political activity prohibited by this section includes (a) the . . . attendance at [politically sponsored] affairs . . . .”
Although section 100.7 (a) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator does not apply to non-judges, the Code of Judicial Conduct does apply to anyone “who is an officer of a judicial system performing judicial functions . . .” (Code of Judicial Conduct, Compliance with the Code of Judicial Conduct, cited in Opinion 92-73, Vol IX) Canon 7 (A) (1) ( c) of the Code states that “a judge. . .should not. . . make a contribution to a political organization or candidate [or] attend political gatherings”. Furthermore, Canon 7 (A) (4) states that “a judge should not engage in any other political activity except on behalf of measures to improve the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice”.
For these reasons, the Judicial Hearing Officer may not engage in the political activity that is the subject of this inquiry (cf. Opinion 93-18 [judicial hearing officer authorized to participate in own campaign]).