June 18, 1999
A full-time judge may not act in a commercial television program, even
though any remuneration to be paid to the judge will be waived or donated
22 NYCRR 100.4 (D)(3);
Opinion 96-134 (Vol. XV).
A full-time judge inquires whether it is permissible to act in a television program, playing the role of a judge. Any remuneration will be waived or donated to charity.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct state that a full-time judge shall not serve as an "... employee or other active participant of any business entity ...". 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(3). In a previous opinion, this Committee, citing the above-mentioned rule, advised that a full-time judge should not be an actor in a commercial motion picture. Opinion 96-134 (Vol. XV). As noted in that opinion, "the essence of the proscription is the rendering of a service by the judge on behalf of a 'business entity' i.e., an enterprise organized for profit." Opinion 96-134 (Vol. XV).
The fact that the present inquirer would be donating any remuneration to charity or would decline to accept any recompense does not change the ethical considerations which refer to the nature of the organization for which the work is performed (i.e., profit-making) rather than the benefit to the judge for performing the work.