September 14, 1999
Digest: A Family Court judge may serve on a Governor's Task Force on School Violence, provided that such service will not affect the performance of judicial duties.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(2)(a); Opinions 97-83 (Vol. XVI); 92-106 (Vol. X).
A Family Court judge inquires whether it is appropriate to accept an appointment by the Governor to serve on a Task Force on School Violence. The Task Force will hold public hearings across the State with the stated goal of "giving the Governor a series of recommendations that will address school violence and make sure our schools are safe havens for learning and growth."
Section 100.4(C)(2)(a) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct states that "[a] full-time judge shall not accept appointment to a governmental committee or commission or other governmental position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy in matters other than the improvement of law, the legal system or the administration of justice..." (emphasis added).
The issue is whether the stated goal of the task force involves the "improvement of law, the legal system or the administration of justice. " This Committee in Opinion 92-106 (Vol. X) permitted a Supreme Court justice to participate on a national commission on uniform state laws which would consider and propose legal reform measures. Additionally, in the same opinion, approval to serve on an advisory board to a public university on issues within the criminal justice system was also given. Both were considered within the "improvement of law" exemption.
In this instance, the request falls within the scope of the Rule's exemption and is consistent with prior approvals given, as stated herein. (But cf. Opinion 97-83 Vol. XVI) which disapproved of a judge's participation in the judge's own County Drug Treatment Foundation created solely to raise money.)
Accordingly, in our opinion it is not improper for the judge to accept the appointment by the Governor to the task force, provided, of course, that such service will not affect the performance of the inquirer's duties as a Family Court judge.