Digest: A sign endorsing a political candidate should not be erected on property jointly owned by a judge and his/her spouse.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2(C), 100.5(A)(1)(d) and (e), Opinion 90-77.
A judge asks if it is proper for a sign endorsing a legislative candidate to be placed on property jointly-owned by the judge and his/her spouse. The spouse is a duly elected member of the county committee and has been independently active in partisan politics for well over a decade. The candidate has requested that the spouse place the sign on the property.
Although the judge’s spouse has established an independent political identity, the placement of the sign may create the impression that the judge concurs with spouse’s endorsement of the candidate. As previously addressed in Opinion 90-77, it could reasonably be inferred under such circumstances, that the judge is lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the candidate whose name appears on the sign which would be in violation of section 100.2(C) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct; and further, that the judge is directly supporting the candidate, thereby violating section 100.5(A)(1)(d) and (e) of the Rules which prohibits such political activity. (22 NYCRR Part 100).
Accordingly, in the opinion of the Committee, a sign endorsing a political candidate should not erected on property jointly-owned by a judge and spouse.