Opinion: 97-74

June 13, 1997

Digest:  A judge's participation in a trip to China under a "Sister Cities" arrangement, as part of a delegation that may include the Mayor and City Council members does not constitute inappropriate political activity.

Rules:  22 NYCRR 100.5.


            The inquiring judge has been invited to participate as part of a local delegation in a trip to China. The judge's municipality has a "Sister Cities" agreement with a city in China "and the trip is to continue the dialogue between the two communities." The judge's delegation would consist of people in government and private industry and may include the Mayor and members of the City Council. Apart from some social hospitality (e.g. lunches or dinner), the expenses of the trip including transportation and lodging would be borne entirely by the judge. Requested by the judge is an opinion whether "it is appropriate ... to attend this trip under Section 100.5 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator, or pursuant to the Code of Judicial Conduct, or any other section of the law."

            As a matter of judicial ethics, the Committee sees no ethical impediment to the judge's participation, under the circumstances described. Section 100.5 of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct requires a judge to refrain from inappropriate political conduct. Participating in a group trip for the purposes stated does not violate the letter or the spirit of section 100.5 merely because the Mayor and City Council members are also members of the delegation.