February 9, 1998
This is in response to your inquiry (98-13) in which you seek the Committee’s advice as to whether as a Judicial Hearing Officer, and retired Supreme Court Justice authorized to perform weddings, you are subject to the $75 limit on unsolicited gratuities that a public officer may accept for performing a marriage ceremony, as specified in section 806-b of the General Municipal Law.
The Committee must decline to answer your inquiry for two reasons:
1) Your authority to perform weddings is a function of your status as a retired justice and not your service as a JHO. This Committee is not authorized to answer inquiries involving the ethical conduct of retired justices, since, as retired judges they are no longer judges of the Unified Court System.
2) The issue regarding whether a retired justice who is authorized to perform weddings is a public officer under section 806-b of the General Municipal Law and section 11 of the Domestic Relations Law is a legal rather than ethical question and is, therefore, also outside of the authority of this Committee to answer.
Very truly yours,
Thomas P. Flaherty
Justice of the Supreme Court
George D. Marlow
Dutchess County Court Judge