Opinion: 97-141

January 28, 1998

Digest:  A judge may permit the judge's law clerk to be a member of a public policy committee of a local political party so long as it is not an elected position and the clerk's political activities do not contravene section 100.5(C) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and section 25.39 of the Rules of the Chief Judge.

Rules:  22 NYCRR 25.39, 100.5(C)(1),(2),(3);
             Opinion 90-105 (Vol. VI).


            A judge inquires whether the judge's personally appointed law clerk can be an appointed member of the Public Policy Committee of a political party; and if membership is not prohibited, whether there are any limitations on the activities the law clerk can partake in.

            Section 100.5(C) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct provides: "A judge shall prohibit members of the judge's staff who are the judge's personal appointees from engaging in the following political activity: (1) holding an elective office in a political organization, except as a delegate to a judicial nominating convention or a member of a county committee other than the executive committee of a county committee."

            Since the law clerk is being appointed and not elected to the political party's public policy committee, the prohibition is not applicable and the judge may allow the law clerk's participation. Opinion 90-105 (Vol. VI).

            The judge further inquires whether there are any other limitations on the law clerk's activities as a member of the committee. Sections 100.5(C)(2) and (3) contain a number of prohibitions on political activity of a judge's personal appointees and also require conformity with section 25.39 of the Rules of the Chief Judge ("Prohibition Against Certain Political Activities; Improper Influence"). The advice of the Committee in this regard is that the judge carefully review with the law clerk the provisions of sections 25.39 and 100.5(C) and advise the clerk of the specified limitations on political activity.