Opinion: 98-141
December 3, 1998
Digest:    A judge may participate in a video production of a not-for-profit group intended to educate teenagers about the court system and police procedures, provided the judge does not comment on pending or impending cases or render advice that casts doubt on the judge's impartiality.

Rule:    22 NYCRR 100.3(B)(8); 100.4(A).


            A judge inquires if it is permissible to participate in a video program concerning the court system and police procedures which is geared towards teenagers. The program is sponsored by a not-for-profit theater company and is intended to increase the awareness of teenagers of the court system, police procedures and legal rights and responsibilities. The judge's participation would consist of a short interview as part of a 30 minute tape, which would also include interviews and re-enactments with inmates, parolees, lawyers, representatives of the local Legal Aid Society and judges. The judge would not be compensated for participating. Copies of the tapes would be distributed free or at minimal cost to youths, youth organizations, schools, churches, and other groups.

            Since the object of the program is to provide "insight, information and suggestions in understanding the court system for young people," the Committee sees no ethical objection to the judge's participation as proposed. We caution, however, that the judge, who serves in a criminal court, should not be commenting on pending or impending cases, in contravention of section 100.3(B)(8) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. Nor should the judge provide advice or commentary which might be construed as casting "reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially as a judge." 22 NYCRR 100.4(A).