December 14, 1995
Digest: (1) A Court of Claims judge is bound by Article 6, Section 20 of the New York Constitution to the extent that it may apply to a publicly appointed position on a Women's Advisory Board.
(2) A judge may host a television talk show on a local noncommercial public access station but must comply with all rules concerning commenting on controversial matters or pending or impending cases.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4; 100.5
A judge of the Court of Claims asks whether it is permissible to remain as Vice-Chair of a county Women's Advisory Board. The appointment to the Board is made by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Board of Legislators. The purpose of the Board is to advise the County Executive and the Board of Legislators on women's issues, and includes a review and monitoring of proposed legislation. The Advisory Board takes positions on such issues.
In addition, the judge asks whether it is permissible to continue to host a weekly cable television show on a local public access station. There are no commercial sponsors and the topics discussed with the guests are varied.
With respect to membership on the Women's Advisory Board, the Committee is of the view that a serious question is raised under Article 6, Section 20 of the New York State Constitution, which prohibits certain judges, including Court of Claims judges, from holding any other public office or trust.
Thus, although the Committee does not render opinions on questions of constitutional law, it is apparent that since the position in question involves appointment by the County Executive and confirmation by the County Legislature a serious State constitutional problem is raised.
As to the television talk show, the judge may continue to host the program, subject to certain restrictions, e.g. not commenting on pending or impending cases. Further, the activity must not interfere with the judge's working schedule and should not advance positions on controversial subjects. The judge may identify herself by her judicial position.