September 21, 1995
Digest: There is no ethical bar which prohibits the attendance and participation by town justices at a meeting which involves their courts and the creation of a District Court.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.4 (a)
A town justice, who is also the president of a county Magistrates Association, attended a meeting with four other judges, in which the creation of a District Court was discussed. The proposed new court would encompass three adjacent towns and the City Court of a nearby city. The four judges who were present are town justices in some of the affected courts.
There is no ethical bar which prohibits the attendance and participation at such a forum and the Rules of Judicial Conduct expressly allow such involvement.
The Rules of the Chief Administrator, 22 NYCRR 100.4 provides that:
“(a) a judge may speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in other activities concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, ...”
We are of the opinion that the conduct amounted to involvement in an activity in which the judges had an interest, but, more important, an activity concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, all of which are allowable activities.
The facts that individuals, active in politics, were also at such meeting does not alter our opinion and, in any event, as the inquiring judge makes clear, the District Court issue is nonpartisan.