November 15, 1994
Digest: A part-time judge may serve as a member of a County agricultural and farmland districting advisory committee, provided such service will not interfere with the judge's judicial duties.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.5(g)
A part-time judge inquires about the propriety of serving as a member of a County Agricultural and Farmland Districting Advisory Committee.
The function of such committee is to advise the county legislative body and to work with the County Planning Board in relation to the establishment and operation of an agricultural district. It renders expert advice as to the nature of farming and farm resources within the specified area and the county at large. Also it makes recommendations concerning use of public funds to acquire farm lands in agricultural districts by government entities.
The actual classification of farm lands within the agricultural district is made by the State Commission of Agricultural and Markets on the basis of the comments and recommendations of the Advisory Committee's designation of farm land within the district and affects the assessed value of the real property for tax purposes.
Section 100.5(g) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides in part, as follows:
(G) Extra Judicial Appointments. 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.
However, this rule, which limits such appointments, does not apply to part-time judges. Thus, service as described would not automatically be barred. Moreover, it should be noted that since the function of the committee is advisory only and it reports to the county legislature and Department of Agriculture and Markets, it does not become involved directly in issues before those bodies.
Accordingly, the judge may serve as a member of the committee. However, should it later appear that the Advisory Committee becomes involved in highly controversial issues relating to its functions, the judge should consider seriously relinquishing membership on the committee.