September 14, 1999
Digest: A village justice should not attend monthly meetings of the village government's department heads which are presided over by the Mayor.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.1 and 100.2(A)
The Mayor of a village has requested that the village justice represent the Village Court at the village's monthly "department heads' meeting. " The justice inquires whether it would be proper to attend and participate at these monthly meetings which are presided over by the Mayor.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct require a judge to preserve the independence of the judiciary. 22 NYCRR 100.1. The judge's attendance at the monthly meetings would, in effect, erroneously identify the judge as a member of the executive branch of the local government serving under the direction of the Mayor. Such a role would not only jeopardize the independence of the judiciary but would also give rise to an appearance of impropriety, contrary to the Rules. 22 NYCRR 100.1, 100.2(A). In our opinion, the judge should not attend monthly village meetings with the village department heads.