October 16, 1997
Digest: A part-time
judge may not accept employment as Counsel to a State Senator, where the
primary functions of the position include service to constituents of a
partisan political nature.
22 NYCRR 100.5; 100.6(B)(4);
Opinions 87-25 (Vol. I);
89-30 (Vol. III); 94-10 (Vol. XII).
A part-time City Court judge has been offered employment as counsel to a State Senator. The judge inquires if he/she may accept the position. The primary functions of the Counsel position include service to constituents of a partisan political nature.
A part-time judge may accept private employment or public employment in a federal, state or municipal department or agency provided such employment is not incompatible with judicial office and does not conflict or interfere with the proper performance of the judge's duties. 22 NYCRR 100.6(B)(4).
The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics has addressed similar inquiries in the past. The Committee held that the positions of Town Justice and Counsel to the Vice-Chair of a legislative committee on transportation alternatives were compatible, as well as those of Town Justice and Counsel to an Assembly committee. Opinions 87-25 (Vol. I); 89-30 (Vol. III).
However, the Committee has also held that a part-time judge may not serve as a Community Liaison Representative in the local office of a member of the Assembly. Opinion 94-10 (Vol. XII). These offices were deemed incompatible because the Community Liaison Representative position involved addressing problems and requests of constituents, many of which would be of a partisan political nature.
The position of Counsel to an individual Senator, like that of Community Liaison Representative, would similarly require constituent service of a partisan political nature. Other responsibilities of counsel will also require that the judge engage, directly or indirectly, in activity of a partisan political nature, including activities in furtherance of the Senator's partisan political objectives. Activities of a partisan political nature are prohibited under the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. 22 NYCRR 100.5. It is, therefore, the opinion of the Committee that the positions of counsel to a State Senator and part-time judge are incompatible where the primary functions of the counsel position include service to constituents of a partisan political nature.