Opinion: 97-103

September 11, 1997

Digest:  A judge should not permit the judge's part-time law clerk to donate office space to a political party which, if rented on the open market, could have a value of over $500 per year.

Rules:  22 NYCRR 100.5(C)(2).


            A judge inquires whether the judge's part-time law clerk may continue in the past practice of donating office space to the county organizations of two political parties.

            Section 100.5 (C)(2) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct states that "A judge shall prohibit members of the judge's staff who are the judge's personal appointees from ... contributing, directly or indirectly, money or other valuable consideration in amounts exceeding $500 in the aggregate during any calendar year to all . . . partisan political activity . . .". In the opinion of the Committee, the donation of office space and related benefits (e.g., use of the office address in the political organization's telephone listing) constitutes "other valuable consideration" within the ambit of this rule. Therefore, the judge should not permit the clerk to furnish these courtesies unless the judge is satisfied that the aggregate fair market value of this consideration does not exceed $500 per year.