Opinion: 99-155

October 21, 1999

Digest: A judge may not use court stationery in a re-election campaign to urge constituents and fellow law school alumni to support the judge's re-election, even if the stationery is marked "personal and unofficial."

Rule:   22 NYCRR 100.2(C); 100.5(A)(2)(i);
            100.5(A)(2)(ii); 100.5(A)(4)(a);
            Opinion 97-36 (Vol. XV).


            A judge seeks an opinion as to whether the judge may use court stationery to urge constituents and law school alumni to support the judge's re-election. The stationery would bear the notation "personal and unofficial."

            Such use of court stationery would be improper. Section 100.5(A)(4)(a) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct mandates that a judge who is a candidate "shall maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office and act in a manner consistent with the integrity and independence of the judiciary." In our view, the use of court stationery for the purpose intended is inconsistent with maintaining the integrity of the judiciary. For although a candidate may speak on his or her own behalf (22 NYCRR 100.5[A][2][i]) and distribute promotional literature (22 NYCRR 100.5[A][2][ii]), a judge is not entitled to use official court stationery "to advance the private interests of the judge," even if the paper is marked "personal and unofficial." 22 NYCRR 100.2(C); Opinion 97-36 (Vol. XV) [a judge may not use official stationery in writing to the State Division of Transportation to advance the judge's private interests].