June 13, 1997
A town justice is prohibited from serving as an instructor for an organization
that sponsors insurance and point reduction defensive driving programs,
even if the programs are in counties other than the judge's county.
22 NYCRR 100.2; Opinion 96-37 (Vol. XIV).
A part-time town justice requests clarification of a prior opinion, (Opinion 96-37 [Vol. XIV]) in which this Committee held that the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibited the justice from serving as a part-time instructor of a point and insurance reduction defensive driving program. The Committee concluded that an appearance of impropriety would be created if the Town Justice were to refer defendants to a driving course where the judge is one of the instructors.
The judge now inquires if he/she may serve as the instructor with a different organization which sponsors similar point and insurance reduction programs in counties other than the judge's county.
The Committee believes that, even though the likelihood that a defendant from the inquirer's court may choose to attend the program taught by the judge in another county is minimal, an appearance of impropriety would still be created whenever the judge refers defendants (who may or may not come from the judge's county) to take an insurance and point reduction program and the judge is an instructor with any organization that sponsors these programs. 22 NYCRR 100.2.
Therefore, a town justice is prohibited from serving as an instructor for an organization that sponsors point and insurance reduction defensive driving programs even if the organization does not offer programs in the justice's county.