Opinion: 98-42
April 23, 1998
Digest: A full-time judge may accept temporary appointment as "Deputy Commissioner of Civil Marriages" in another state for the sole purpose of performing the marriage of a friend.

Rule:    22 NYCRR New York Const. Art. VI, §20; 100.4 (C)(2)(a).


            A full-time judge inquires whether it is proper to accept a temporary appointment in the State of California as Deputy Commissioner of Civil Marriages so that he/she can perform the wedding of a friend in California. The inquiring judge was advised that California has a process by which out-of-state judges, who are authorized to perform weddings in their own state, can be similarly authorized to perform a particular wedding in California. As explained to the inquiring judge, the process involves the temporary designation of the out-of-state judge as a Deputy Commissioner of Civil Marriages, which designation is made by a California County Clerk, who is authorized to perform marriages.

            The only portion of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct ostensibly relevant to the judge's inquiry is section 100.4 (C)(2)(a), which provides, inter alia, that a full-time judge "shall not accept appointment to a * * * governmental position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy in matters other than the improvement of law, the legal system or the administration of justice." While service in the above-described temporary appointment would not be involved with the improvement of law or the legal system, neither would it be involved with issues of fact or policy. Accordingly, section 100.4 (C)(2)(a) is inapplicable.

            Given the very limited nature and scope of the temporary designation, the Committee is of the opinion that the judge's performance of the wedding ceremony in the capacity stated capacity is not violative of any provision of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

            Although the Committee does not render opinions on questions of constitutional law, it does not appear that any constitutional problems under Article VI, §20 of the New York Constitution would be encountered as a result of the inquiring judge's acceptance of the temporary designation.

            Accordingly, the inquiring judge may accept the temporary appointment as Deputy Commissioner of Civil Marriages for the sole purpose of performing the out-of-state wedding of a friend.