October 21, 1999
A full-time judge may not be an advisor nor allow his or her name to be
listed as an advisor on the letterhead of a for profit company involved
in courtroom automation.
22 NYCRR 100.2(C); 100.4(D)(3);
Opinion 96-143 (Vol. XV).
A full-time judge inquires about the propriety of accepting an invitation to be an advisor and to be listed on the letterhead as an advisor of a company involved in courtroom automation. The company previously contributed equipment, services and expertise to the court and is expanding its involvement in courtroom automation through a new business entity which plans to build facilities to provide computer technology for the purpose of teaching, training and the development of pre-trial ADR solutions. The judge has been asked to join the advisory committee of the new company and to be listed on its letterhead as an advisor.
Section 100.4(D)(3) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct provides that: "A full time judge should not serve as an officer, director, manager, general partner, advisor, employee or other active participant of a business entity . . . ." (emphasis added) Previously, the corresponding section of the rule (former section 100.5[C]) specifically applied to an "advisory board member". In addition, section 100.2(C) of the Rules prohibits judges from lending the "prestige of judicial office to advance the private interest of the judge or others . . . ."
In light of the former and current language of section 100.4(D)(3), which prohibits a full-time judge from serving as an advisor or other active participant of any business entity, we advise that the judge not accept the invitation to join the company's advisory committee.
Further, the judge should not be listed among the advisors of the business for to do so would suggest that the judge is promoting the company and bestow upon the company a misleading official imprimatur by the use of the judge's name. This would violate section 100.2(C) of the Rules which prohibits judges from lending the "prestige of judicial office to advance the private interest of the judge or others." See generally Opinion 96-143 (Vol. XV).