September 14, 1999
A Family Court judge may, at the request of the local Department of Social
Services, record a public service announcement for the purpose of recruiting
new foster parents.
22 NYCRR 100.2(A); 100.4(A); 100.4(C).
A Family Court judge, who has been asked by the local Department of Social Services to make a public service announcement for the purpose of recruiting new foster parents, inquires whether there is any ethical prohibition to making such an announcement.
Judges are permitted to participate in a variety of extra-judicial activities as long as those activities do not reflect adversely upon their impartiality, detract from the dignity of judicial office, or interfere with the proper performance of their judicial duties. 22 NYCRR 100.4(A). Furthermore, judges may engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice subject to the limitations set forth in section 100.4(C) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.
Here, the inquiring judge has been asked by a local Department of Social Services to record a public service announcement recruiting foster parents. Although the Department and foster parents are sometimes parties that appear before the judge, the judge would not be advocating legal positions on behalf of or against foster parents or the Department in the making of such an announcement. Nor would the making of such an announcement diminish "public confluence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary." 22 NYCRR 100.2(A). Accordingly, based on the facts presented, it is the opinion of the Committee that the recording of such an announcement is not ethically prohibited.