Opinion: 98-75
June 19, 1998
Digest:    A judge may not be a guest speaker at a hotel as part of the hotel's advertised weekend entertainment package, regardless of the contents of the judge's speech.

Rule:    22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.4(B);
            100.4(D)(1)(a); 100.4(H)(1).
            Opinion 95-08 (Vol. XIII)


            A judge inquires whether it is permissible to be a hotel's guest speaker as part of its advertised weekend entertainment schedule. It is also asked whether the judge and the judge's spouse may be guests of the hotel, and whether the judge's name may be included in a list of future speakers advertised by the hotel. The judge advises that the speech would generally include information regarding the levels and functions of New York State courts, the role of courts in protecting societal interests, and the process of becoming a judge.

            All of these subjects are appropriate subjects of commentary pursuant to section 100.4(B) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, wherein it is stated that "a judge may speak, write, lecture, teach . . . ." If this were purely a civic function the speech would be appropriate and the judge's name could be utilized. See Opinion 95-08 (Vol. XIII), and 22 NYCRR 100.4(H)(1). However, it is clear that the fact that the hotel is presumably a "for profit" enterprise lends to the arrangement an inference of impropriety, which must be avoided. 22 NYCRR 100.2. Additionally, because of the hotel's "for profit" financial status, the arrangement outlined by the judge may also be perceived to be an exploitation of the judge's judicial position. 22 NYCRR 100(D)(1)(a). Consequently, the judge should not be a guest speaker under these circumstances.