New York Courts dot gov
New York StateUnified Court System

Recently Broadcast Opinions

The Committee's published opinions are searchable online and on Westlaw. In addition, many opinions are sent to the Buffalo Law Journal, the Magistrate, the New York Daily Record, and/or the New York Law Journal.

The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics recently issued the following opinions, which are linked below.

  • Opinions are not in strict numerical order; they are grouped by the date of distribution.
  • To search for a word or opinion number on this page, use your web browser's search function (e.g., Ctrl+F).
  • For a list of earlier broadcast opinions, please visit the Broadcast Opinions Archive.

The Committee does not accept inquiries by e-mail. If you have a question about judicial ethics, please call the Committee at 1-866-79-JUDGE [58343] for assistance.


Special Broadcast - Important Opinions for Local Courts (updated June 20, 2016)

Opinion 16-101"Digest: The effective date of Opinion 15-197(B) is September 1, 2016."

Opinion 15-197(B)"Digest: (1) A town or village justice may not assist the District Attorney by contacting each prosecution witness, complainant and police officer concerning their upcoming court appearances. (2) Opinion 09-173 is hereby amended so that justice courts should not notify such witnesses for the District Attorney, even if the court is willing to do the same for defendants and defense attorneys on request."


June 20, 2016 Broadcast

Opinion 15-150 Where a judge's first-degree relative is a non-supervisory staff attorney for an insurance company, who will not work on any cases in the New York State courts, what are the judge's obligations when that company appears before him/her as a party or as insurance carrier for a party?

Opinion 15-153 Must a judge report to the probation department that an individual appearing before the judge has violated his/her probation?

Opinion 15-165 May a judge provide the court's internal weekly case summaries to a newspaper for publication?

Opinion 15-169 Where a judge is receiving ongoing restitution installment payments from an individual, payable through a court-ordered intermediary organization, may the judge preside in unrelated cases where that entity's attorneys appear? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 15-171 May a full-time judge serve as an officer for a not-for-profit fraternal organization, serve as a non-legal advisor to the organization on matters of parliamentary procedure, and chair the organization's scholarship committee? May a judge sell raffle tickets benefiting the organization to family members? To friends?

Opinion 15-172 Where a judge's law clerk is the former District Attorney, what are the judge's obligations when the District Attorney's office appears?

Opinion 15-173 May a judge write a letter supporting a court officer's request to be assigned to the judge's courthouse?

Opinion 15-175 May a town or village justice permit the court's sole court clerk to maintain concurrent clerical employment at a substance abuse facility?

Opinion 15-178 In a court where judges repeatedly receive attempted ex parte communications from elected officials on behalf of their constituents, what steps should the judges take?

Opinion 15-185 What are a court attorney-referee's obligations when an attorney appearing before him/her is the sibling of the referee's close personal friend?

Opinion 15-190 May a judge serve on the board of directors for a not-for-profit agency with a broad educational mission that includes certain traffic safety education programs to which the judge may make referrals?

Opinion 15-206 Must a judge disclose or disqualify him/herself when the judge's child's election opponent appears before the judge as an attorney?

Opinion 15-208 Where a judge is personally disqualified from certain cases, may he/she nonetheless permit his/her personally appointed principal law clerk to conference those cases, at the request of the presiding judge?

Opinion 15-219 Where a judge appears on a not-for-profit organization's regular letterhead as a board member, may the judge permit the organization to include his/her name along with other board members on the organization's fund-raising invitations? Must the listing be absolutely identical or literally reproduce the regular letterhead?

Opinion 15-232 May a judge, on his/her own initiative and before the parties' first appearance, request and review grand jury minutes and/or discovery materials produced to the defense?

Opinion 16-01 May a judge who is a member of a law school reunion committee be a signatory or listed as a committee member on a letter that encourages and solicits alumni donations? Or on a letter inviting alumni to attend an upcoming law school reunion event which is not a fund-raiser?

Opinion 16-02 May a judge partner with, or commit the court to partner with, entities applying for a grant to create a domestic violence advocacy program? May the judge or the court participate in the ongoing administration of the resulting advocacy program?

Opinion 16-05 May a full-time judge participate in non-commercial podcasts about New York legal issues, or science fiction and comic book characters and legal issues that may arise in fictional works?

Opinion 16-08 May a full-time City Court judge accept a temporary assignment as a Family Court judge?

Opinion 16-44 Where a judge's non-lawyer spouse works for a global insurance company in a mid-level position, with no litigation responsibilities, what are the judge's obligations when that insurance company appears before him/her?

Opinion 16-48 (1) Must a judge who ordered a transcript to be redacted provide an unredacted copy to counsel on request? (2) Is a judge disqualified from presiding in a case where a party and his/her spouse are long-time acquaintances of the judge's spouse and an associate in that party's law firm served as the judge's court attorney more than a decade ago? (3) Must a judge report an attorney if he/she believes the attorney is improperly attempting to include personal information about the judge's family in the record?

Opinion 16-49 How long is a judge disqualified from matters involving an attorney he/she reported to the grievance committee?

Opinion 16-51 May a full-time judge serve on the board of a not-for-profit community economic development corporation?

Opinion 16-53 May a town or village justice permit the court clerk to serve as an acting justice of the same court?

Opinion 16-54 May a judge preside in a matter involving a defendant who (a) is a judge in the same geographic region and (b) previously had some minimal political and professional connections with the judge’s current law secretary? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 16-56 May a judge decline to solemnize all marriages? If so, may court staff refer the couple to another wedding officiant?

Opinion 16-58 May a part-time judge conduct background investigations for the United States Office of Personnel Management?

Opinion 16-59 May a judge who previously served as a local prosecutor for a lightly populated municipality for many years, ending over a decade ago, preside in a case involving high-profile allegations of recent misconduct by the local police?

Opinion 16-60 May a judge join an informal discussion group with politically connected people to develop detailed proposals for redistricting reform, comprehensive election and voting reforms, restructuring the legislature, changes in school funding, and other highly controversial or political matters?

Opinion 16-62 May a judge who is a respondent in a CPLR Article 78 proceeding seeking to annul/vacate the judge's order in a pending criminal case comment on the criminal case in his/her answer or appearance in the proceeding?

Opinion 16-63 (1) When does a non-judge who has been appointed to judicial office become subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct? (2) May a part-time judge publicly display on his/her office building a non-partisan banner stating “Your vote counts in ___ County”? (3) May a part-time attorney judge's attorney tenant appear before other co-judges of the judge's court, where the judge and the tenant (a) share a fax machine and fax number which is included in their respective stationery, (b) occasionally cover court appearances for each other, and/or (c) permit the judge’s receptionist to answer phone calls for the tenant?

Opinion 16-66 Where an attorney's representation of the judge's second-degree relative ended two years ago, but the judge knows the attorney has an outstanding judgment for unpaid legal fees, what are the judge's obligations in matters where that attorney appears?

Opinion 16-67 Where a judge's first-degree relative heads the local probation department, what are the judge's obligations in matters where the department's employees appear?

Opinion 16-69 May a judge serve as master of ceremonies for a not-for-profit community organization’s event honoring local religious leaders and a local executive branch official, where “all the proceeds will benefit the youth program”?

back to top


May 12, 2016 Broadcast

Opinion 15-94 What are the obligations of a judge who receives reliable information that a more senior judge, who has administrative or supervisory responsibilities, displayed impatient, discourteous, and undignified behavior on the bench, made unprovoked threats to alter another judge's order in the case sua sponte to suit the more senior judge's personal preferences, and repeatedly refused to consider or decide the issues before him/her?

Opinion 15-151 May a village justice continue as a client of a salesperson whose spouse is the village prosecutor?

Opinion 15-157 Must a court attorney referee take any action on learning that an attorney briefly spoke to a witness about subpoenaed materials during a recess?

Opinion 15-163 What are the obligations of a judge who learns that an attorney appearing before him/her made a charitable donation to honor the judge’s deceased relative?

Opinion 15-164 May a judge whose first-degree relative is a part-time attorney for the county department of social services preside in criminal cases alleging welfare fraud where the agency is the victim or complainant?

Opinion 15-188 May a judge become involved in legislative redistricting under the facts presented?

Opinion 15-193 May a judge write to the director of a federally funded medical facility to express appreciation for care provided to the judge's deceased parent? May the judge send copies of such a letter to federal legislators?

Opinion 15-197(A) May a town justice assist prosecutors by (a) arranging meetings with the prosecutor’s prospective witnesses and/or (b) instructing such witnesses to bring lab reports or other possible evidentiary materials to court?

Opinion 15-198 May a judge attend a magistrates’ association meeting held at a local correctional facility?

Opinion 15-200 May a full-time judge serve in the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps?

Opinion 15-203 May a full-time judge who presides in a treatment court serve on a legislator’s advisory committee on drug abuse?

Opinion 15-205 May a part-time judge serve as Corporation Counsel?

Opinion 15-210 May a judge be a member of the Shooters Committee on Political Education?

Opinion 15-227 May a judge whose spouse is actively involved in the not-for-profit American Israel Public Affairs Committee attend a non-political dinner at which the judge’s spouse and other financial supporters will be recognized?

Opinion 16-14 What are a judge's obligations with respect to (a) his/her former colleagues at a private law firm, (b) individuals who supported his/her election campaign in various capacities, (c) his/her former subordinates in a government law office, and (d) his/her law clerk's former private law firm employer?

Opinion 16-21 May a town justice preside over a bench trial, where a town board member who votes on the judge's salary is a necessary witness whose credibility the judge must evaluate?

Opinion 16-25 May a judge notify a police officer’s commander of the officer’s non-compliance with a legal mandate?

Opinion 16-28 May a Family Court judge preside in matters involving an agency that has hired the judge's first-degree relative for a part-time entry-level job, given that the agency is one where the county department of social services may place a child?

Opinion 16-30 May a judge preside in matters involving assistant public defenders subject to the supervision of a Public Defender who, in his/her former capacity as a private attorney, had preliminarily and briefly represented the judge in a disciplinary proceeding one year ago?

Opinion 16-31 What are a judge’s obligations on learning that a lawyer or law firm appearing before him/her is opposing counsel to the judge’s attorney spouse in an unrelated action in another court? May the judge continue to preside? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 16-34 May a full-time judge participate as one of several panelists and mentors at a commercial entity's free luncheon for young people of a particular minority group, when commercial entity has assured the judge in writing that the event is entirely philanthropic, the judge's participation will not be used for promotional purposes, and no commercial activity whatsoever will take place at the event?

Opinion 16-35 May a judge attend, as a guest, a fund-raising event held by a not-for-profit law enforcement organization? May the judge make donations to the entity?

Opinion 16-37 May a full-time judge enter into an option/purchase agreement with a film producer, for a screenplay the judge wrote?

Opinion 16-38 May a judge presiding in a large urban criminal court write a reference for a police officer seeking to be promoted based on personal knowledge of the officer, which predates the judge’s assumption of judicial office?

Opinion 16-39 What are a judge's obligations with respect to reporting attorneys for improper use of their firm's IOLA account?

Opinion 16-42 May a judge sign a final decree of judicial settlement pursuant to SCPA § 2602(1)(b), following disqualification of the judge who issued the underlying decision?

Opinion 16-43 May a criminal court judge who previously presided over an ex parte search warrant application later arraign (1) a confidential informant who testified in support of the warrant and/or (2) the target of the search warrant? Is disclosure or disqualification required?

back to top


April 13, 2016 Broadcast

Opinion 15-113 May a judge be the introductory speaker at a Criminal Justice Services Division program focused on discouraging gun violence among probationers and parolees who have no pending charges, where the event will take place at a courthouse, and participants include prosecutors, law enforcement, the Legal Aid Society, social service providers, and community leaders?

Opinion 15-133 May a judge attend a foreign consulate’s reception for its ambassador? May a judge speak at the consulate about the judge’s personal experiences in becoming a jurist?

Opinion 15-183 What are a judge's disciplinary obligations after learning that a police report contains a defendant’s unconfirmed, but also un-denied, claim that an assistant public defender directed a racial/ethnic slur toward the defendant?

Opinion 15-189 What are a judge's obligations on learning of substantial and troubling irregularities in his/her court arising from the conduct of a former town court clerk, as well as possibly improper behavior by a former town justice?

Opinion 15-209 May a part-time judge consult ex parte with court personnel who staff the City, Town and Village Courts Resource Center? Must there be notice and/or disclosure to the parties in the case?

Opinion 15-220 If applicable law authorizes certain judges to delegate the authority to accept guilty pleas and set fines in certain matters, is it ethically permissible for such judges to delegate that authority under the applicable statutory scheme?

Opinion 15-226 May a judge order payment to a former guardian ad litem for services which pre-date the attorney's employment with the Unified Court System? Does it matter if the former guardian ad litem now serves as principal law clerk to another judge (i.e., one who is not presiding in the case)?

Opinion 16-15 May a full-time judge accept an honorarium for giving the "lesson for the day" at a worship service?

Opinion 16-16 May a judge who presided over two related civil actions preside over the losing party’s subsequent malpractice action against its former counsel?

Opinion 16-18 May a judge serve as a character reference for a court intern who has applied for a pistol permit?

Opinion 16-20 May a judge whose prior service as an assistant attorney general ended five years ago preside in matters involving the Attorney General's office?

Opinion 16-26 Must a Court of Claims judge disclose or disqualify him/herself from cases involving the Attorney General’s office, based solely on media efforts to link the judge and his/her spouse with a person whom the Attorney General is investigating?

Opinion 16-33 May a judge write a letter on behalf of a family member who has a criminal case pending in another state? Does it make a difference if the judge does not reveal his/her judicial status but writes solely in his/her personal capacity as the defendant's relative and as an individual who has previous professional experience as a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and a quasi-judicial official?

Opinion 16-40 May a judge who is a member and officer of a specialized bar association sign the association’s certificate of incorporation?

Opinion 16-41 May a judge, at the request of an attorney who recently appeared before him/her as the subject of a Treatment Court proceeding, voluntarily testify in the attorney’s disciplinary proceeding?

back to top


March 25, 2016 Broadcast

Opinion 15-142 May a part-time town judge, who is also executor of an estate that owns real property within the town, retain counsel and petition the town for approval of the beneficiaries’ requested subdivision of the property? If so, may the judge thereafter preside when assistant town attorneys appear before the court?

Opinion 15-154 May a judge serve as a speaker at a not-for-profit organization’s annual dinner, where the judge knows that the dinner, although itself modestly priced, involves substantial, ongoing and prominent fund-raising as the attendees are strongly urged to upgrade to silver, gold, life, or corporate memberships, and are publicly recognized for making full or partial payment during the dinner?

Opinion 15-186 Where a judge offered selected attorneys the opportunity to purchase tickets to a local sporting event, and one attorney took advantage of the offer, what are the judge's obligations when the attorney appears before him/her?

Opinion 15-187 May a judges' association hold its annual conference at a hotel resort and casino owned by a sovereign Native American nation?

Opinion 16-04 May a judge participate in a bar association’s membership drive and recruit new attorney members with a complimentary one year membership?

Opinion 16-06 May a full-time judge who wrote a children’s book: participate in book signings; spread the news that the book has been published; give away complimentary copies of the book; tell people, on request, where the book may be purchased; permit the publisher to mention the judge’s judicial status; appear in judicial robes on the book’s back cover; and/or read the book at an elementary school? Do any special restrictions apply because the work is a children’s book rather than a law-related book?

Opinion 16-11 May a judge who is a defendant in a bank’s foreclosure action preside over an unrelated action in which a party has subpoenaed records from the bank, where the bank is a mere stakeholder which has not appeared or taken a position regarding the subpoena?

Opinion 16-13 May a newly appointed part-time judge continue to represent a client on cases which not only originated in the judge’s court, but were previously handled by the inquiring judge’s predecessor on that court, and were transferred to another local court only after the inquiring judge assumed the bench?

back to top


March 17, 2016 Broadcast

Opinion 15-103 May a judge write a review of the professional services provided by his/her divorce lawyer, on an online ratings service that displays individual reviews directly to the public?

Opinion 15-104 May a judge who volunteers for a not-for-profit educational organization permit the entity to use his/her name and honorific when listing the judge as a volunteer in the entity's internal documents?

Opinion 15-111 Must a judge disclose that he/she responded to a confidential request from a judicial appointments committee for comments on the character, ability, integrity, and temperament of an attorney, when the attorney thereafter appears before the judge? Is disqualification required?

Opinion 15-117 Where a judge did not personally file a disciplinary complaint against an attorney, but instead encouraged another attorney to file the report and stated that the judge would personally follow through as necessary to ensure a disciplinary complaint was ultimately filed, may the judge preside when the reported attorney appears?

Opinion 15-124 What are a judge's obligations when he/she concludes that another judge has attempted to use the prestige of judicial office to influence the outcome of a family member’s criminal case?

Opinion 15-125 May a judge speak at an academic conference on the topic of international, federal, and state approaches to human rights issues?

Opinion 15-126 (1) May a full-time judge request and accept fees for work he/she performed before assuming the bench? (2) May a judge preside in matters where his/her former law partner appears as counsel? (3) May a judge appoint his/her former partners to fiduciary positions? (4) May a judge who previously served as counsel to the public administrator preside over cases in which the public administrator appears?

Opinion 15-129 May a part-time judge serve on a bar association’s attorney grievance committee?

Opinion 15-131 May a judge who is a party litigant make a legal argument that relies on the judge’s judicial status?

Opinion 15-135 What are the obligations of a judge who has received a secondhand report of a casually overheard and possibly privileged conversation relating to a case before the judge?

Opinion 15-138/15-144/15-166 How should a judge analyze his/her disciplinary obligations based on second- or third-hand reports of allegedly improper conduct by an attorney or another judge?

Opinion 15-139/15-140 May a judge serve as a reference for someone who recently appeared before the judge as a defendant/participant in a treatment-oriented problem-solving court?

Opinion 15-145 May a judicial candidate who is a notary public (1) carry or pass petitions for other candidates or request petition signatures for other candidates or (2) attest that he/she witnessed signatures on petitions carried or passed by another individual?

Opinion 15-148 May a judge who formerly represented a particular category of litigants in the specialized court where he/she now sits remain on the private e-mail list for a former colleague’s summaries, commentary, and compilations of recent cases?

Opinion 15-214 May a newly appointed judge, who previously ran for a non-judicial office, dispose of the remaining unexpended non-judicial campaign funds by donating them to charity?

Opinion 15-216 May a town or village justice permit a part-time court clerk to accept part-time clerical employment with a law firm which plans to cease appearing in the judge’s court?

Opinion 16-03 Where a judge's spouse is a statewide information security officer for the state police and internally advises that agency on technology issues, must the judge disclose the relationship or disqualify him/herself in cases involving the state police?

back to top


February 26, 2016 Broadcast

Opinion 14-129(B) May a judicial hearing officer (JHO) who is certified to work in Supreme and Family Courts in a particular county argue an appeal from a case decided in one of those courts?

Opinion 14-167 Must a judicial candidate investigate the accuracy of a political organization's statement of costs incurred on the candidate's behalf? What should the candidate do if the statement is plainly unreliable and clearly inaccurate on its face?

Opinion 15-99 May a magistrates association, of which the judge is a member, tour a state police headquarters and watch the “training/process of a DWI arrest”?

Opinion 15-100 May a judicial association publicly respond to a newspaper article which sets forth a local attorney’s criticisms of another judge? What are the advantages and disadvantages, from a judicial ethics perspective, of various possible types of responses to public criticism?

Opinion 15-119 Where a county court judge knows only that a town justice presided over an arraignment and then requested the matter be transferred due to a purported conflict, but lacks relevant details of the purported conflict, what (if any) disciplinary obligations does the county court judge have?

Opinion 15-132 May a judge hire his/her current law clerk’s spouse as the judge’s secretary?

Opinion 15-215 (1) May a village justice provide the local police department with a monthly report cataloging the number of arrests, parking tickets, traffic tickets and calls for service involving various law enforcement entities? (2) May a village justice provide the village trustees with a monthly report indicating the number of cases that have been opened during that period and the total number of cases that remain pending at the end of each month?

Opinion 15-217 May a judge fax a copy of the court’s weekly calendar to the Department of Homeland Security for their review and determination in what defendants may be potential risks or illegal aliens, for the office to pursue?

Opinion 15-218 Is a judge disqualified from presiding over a criminal case, merely because the District Attorney has launched a collateral attack on the judge’s pretrial rulings in another forum?

Opinion 15-221 What are a judge's obligations where the District Attorney is a former client of the judge's law firm, but the representation completely ended four years ago?

Opinion 15-224 May a town justice continue to preside in matters involving the local village police department, after the village police chief is elected to the town board?

Opinion 15-229 May a judge serve as president or vice-president of a bar association?

Opinion 15-230 May a judge require defendants seeking re-sentencing under CPL 420.10 to complete a form requesting the same information the judge would otherwise request orally in court?

Opinion 15-231 What standards should a judge consider in determining whether he/she must take action concerning apparent misconduct by an attorney who is involved in a proceeding before the judge? May the judge wait until the proceeding ends before taking such action?

back to top


February 2, 2016 Broadcast

Opinion 14-147 May a judge preside over cases involving an attorney who is a law firm colleague of the judge's uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, great-grandparent, or great-grandchild?

Opinion 15-61 May a judge appear on a panel program to discuss a decision recently issued by the judge, when the time to appeal has not expired and an attorney who argued the case before the judge would be a fellow panelist?

Opinion 15-102 May a judge compete in the World Series of Poker?

Opinion 15-115 May a town justice permit the town court clerk to meet with the court clerk's former employer to explain notes the court clerk made during his/her prior employment?

Opinion 15-120 May a judge join in an advertising campaign intended to lobby political support and funding for union contract renewals for the judge's alma mater?

Opinion 15-122 May a judge accept the gift of a food platter from a former judge who has resumed the practice of law and is now practicing in the judge’s court?

Opinion 15-128 May a new full-time judge, whose former law partner is temporarily unavailable for medical reasons, continue to accept and deposit fees, issue checks to clients and the firm and pay expenses as necessary to wind up the law firm’s affairs until the partner recovers or new counsel is hired? May the judge use law firm letterhead after assuming judicial office to explain the circumstances to judges presiding over his/her former partner’s cases and to request adjournments as needed?

Opinion 15-134 May a full-time principal law clerk who is a part-time SCAR hearing officer (1) run for or serve as a delegate to a political party’s judicial nominating convention, (2) apply for and become a notary public, and/or (3) circulate nominating petitions?

Opinion 15-161 What are the obligations of a judge whose realtor spouse has been offered an appointment to serve as a real estate broker on behalf of a trust that is jointly administered by another judge and an attorney who does not appear before the inquiring judge?

Opinion 15-179 May a judge give a presentation on recognizing and reducing racial prejudice to an audience consisting exclusively of attorneys who represent a certain category of litigants in a specialized court?

Opinion 15-207 May a judge preside over cases in which the judge's electoral opponent represents the county as prosecuting attorney?

Opinion 15-212 May a judge preside over cases involving lawyers who sought to contribute to the judge’s spouse’s recent political campaign?

Opinion 15-213 May a judge serve as a board member and secretary for a not-for-profit charity that provides services to underprivileged children and families, where the charity does not appear in the judge's court but employs social workers who appear in another court and who meet with that court's resource coordinators from time to time?

Opinion 15-222 May a judge make a charitable donation to help establish a new mentoring program for at-risk youth, where the program is sponsored by certain county public defenders?


December 7, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-45 May a judge preside in cases involving a government law office, once the judge's former close personal friend and law partner assumes a supervisory position in the office?

Opinion 15-50 May a judge, in order to collect fines or surcharges he/she imposed on a defendant for parking violations, contact another court to ask that payment be made a condition of any disposition of the defendant’s case in the other court?

Opinion 15-51 Must a full-time judge disqualify him/herself in a case involving a client of the judge’s former law firm, where the judge's former law firm still owes the judge undistributed capital but is not involved in the case before the judge, and the judge had minimal contact with this client while with the law firm?

Opinion 15-58 May a judge whose court attorney is elected District Attorney preside in cases involving the District Attorney's office?

Opinion 15-59 Is a part-time judge who also works for a financial institution disqualified from all matters involving his/her non-judicial employer’s landlord?

Opinion 15-72 May a full-time judge attend a dispute mediation service’s volunteer recognition dinner?

Opinion 15-74 May a judge who has personal knowledge of a convicted defendant awaiting sentencing in federal court, in response to a subpoena, submit an affidavit in letter form to the sentencing judge requesting leniency for the defendant?

Opinion 15-77 May a judge make a financial contribution to Planned Parenthood?

Opinion 15-79 May a judge participate in a non-fund-raising National Day of Prayer event, lead a prayer, and be identified as a judge?

Opinion 15-80 May a judge may continue to preside in a case after learning the parties have engaged in occasional, discrete business transactions with the judge’s parents’ manufacturing corporation in matters entirely unrelated to the case?

Opinion 15-82 Does a previously granted remittal of disqualification remain effective if a party afterward discharges his/her attorney and proceeds pro se?

Opinion 15-83 May a judicial candidate personally guarantee to PayPal and credit card issuers that he/she will use his/her personal funds to repay them for “chargebacks” for monies mistakenly or wrongfully paid to the candidate’s campaign?

Opinion 15-86 May a part-time lawyer judge preside in cases involving a lawyer who is the sibling of the judge's law firm associate?

Opinion 15-89 What are a judge's obligations on learning that his/her name was listed on the invitation to a not-for-profit organization’s fundraiser, where the judge's name was listed with all other directors on the back of the invitation, but the organization's regular letterhead does not include the names of its directors?

Opinion 15-93 May a judge serve as a panelist in a local college’s program on perceptions and realities of the criminal justice system?

Opinion 15-101 May a judge who presides in a treatment-oriented problem solving court serve as a job reference for a defendant/participant who recently appeared before the judge, where the judge would merely provide objective observations based on reliable personal knowledge about the individual, drawn from many months of regular court appearances, reports and discussions?

Opinion 15-112/15-146 May a judicial candidate (1) pay individuals for time spent circulating petitions and gathering signatures in order to put the candidate’s name on the ballot or (2) pay a 50% bonus to his/her campaign manager if the candidate is elected?

Opinion 15-127 May judges delegate to their court clerks the authority to impose a pre-determined fine for traffic infractions, by means of a standing court order with a fixed schedule of fines?

Opinion 15-158 May a non-judge who is currently employed as a peace officer in a community college resign his/her peace officer status and accept a new role as a campus security officer for the same institution, after becoming a part-time judge in a nearby municipality?

Opinion 15-176 May a judge reveal, discuss and explore his/her interest in receiving an interim appointment to non-judicial office with the public official who will make that decision if the position becomes vacant before the incumbent's term ends?

Opinion 15-177 Where a judge has objected to an event that was organized in the judge's name without the judge's authorization, and the event has been canceled at the judge's request, must the judge take any further action?

Opinion 15-180 Where a judge has received information indicating a substantial likelihood that an attorney has committed a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and has further concluded that the apparent misconduct seriously calls into question the attorney’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law, may the judge nonetheless refrain from reporting the apparent misconduct to the grievance committee if (a) the misconduct was covered extensively in the media and (b) the judge believes the attorney's former employer may have reported the misconduct?

Opinion 15-181 May a part-time judge maintain concurrent employment with a private company which provides risk and threat assessments to various entities?

Opinion 15-182 May a judge who wrote and published a law-related book go on a book tour, where the judge will conduct book signings and speak at bookstores, law schools, and bar associations in New York and elsewhere, and permit copies of the book to be available for purchase at such events? May the judge permit a commercial television producer to make a television series based on the judge’s book for a commercial television station? If so, may the judge serve as a host for the television series or be interviewed for the series?

Opinion 15-184 May a judge attend a meeting with the local STOP DWI Coordinator and the Sheriff’s Department to discuss methods of collecting unpaid fines from defendants sentenced on DWI convictions?

Opinion 15-191 May a judge preside when other attorneys from the firm where his/her niece or nephew is an associate appear?

Opinion 15-194 On becoming a part-time village justice, may an attorney (1) continue to practice law as a solo practitioner in the same county where he/she will preside and (2) preside over cases when his/her former law partner appears?

back to top


October 28, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-08 Where a judge is (or recently has been) a party in a contested matrimonial action, and his/her spouse (or ex-spouse) is a private attorney, what are the judge's obligations (1) when the spouse’s law firm colleagues appear before the judge on other matters; (2) when the judge’s attorney or the spouse’s attorney appears; and (3) when an expert who evaluated a marital asset appears?

Opinion 15-12 May a judge accept free tickets and parking vouchers for a game of his/her choice from a local sports team that has not recently appeared before the judge and is not likely to do so?

Opinion 15-33 (1) What are a judge's obligations when the judge’s spouse’s former law firm appears before the judge, on matters in which the judge's spouse had no involvement, while the law firm maintains a fee interest in eight other cases handled by the judge's spouse? (2) What are a judge's obligations when attorneys to whom the judge’s spouse has referred occasional, discrete cases, or from whom the judge’s spouse has received such cases, appear in the judge’s court?

Opinion 15-34 May a judge approve a plea agreement which requires a defendant to participate in a district attorney’s traffic ticket diversion program, when the program involves a non-refundable application fee?

Opinion 15-52 May a judge preside in a case where a clerical court employee, not the judge’s personal appointee, had previously provided freelance transcription services to a private attorney?

Opinion 15-137 Must a judge disclose or disqualify him/herself from cases in which his/her co-judge's spouse has served (or may serve) as a social worker for a defendant on referral by the probation department?

Opinion 15-141 May a full-time judge co-author a treatise on a specialized area of law and accept royalties from the sales of the book?

Opinion 15-149 May a full-time judge (1) serve as a paid, part-time adjunct professor at a private law school; (2) serve on the board of a private, not-for-profit school that the judge's child attends; (3) serve on the school's audit committee; (4) serve on the school's academic affairs committee; (5) serve on the board of directors of the judge's condominium; and/or (6) serve on a bar association committee?

Opinion 15-152 May a judge accept a plea conditioned on a defendant writing an essay about traffic safety?

Opinion 15-155 May a judge preside in a matter where the judge and his/her spouse own a de minimis interest in a large corporation that is a party in the matter?

Opinion 15-159 May a town justice consent to the appointment of his/her first-degree relative as town court clerk and permit his/her relative to continue full-time clerical employment with a private law firm that appears in the court twice a year?

Opinion 15-162 May a law clerk who serves as a SCAR Hearing Officer (1) write and publish a children’s book with a commercial publisher public and accept royalties and/or (2) personally market and sell the book?

Opinion 15-168 May a judge preside when an attorney who served as a reference for the judge's judicial appointment appears before the judge more than two years after the appointment?

Opinion 15-170 May a judge permit his/her Chief Clerk to serve on an advisory committee charged with helping develop a mediation program for the judge's court in order to represent the court’s interests?

back to top


September 28, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-15 May a full-time judge serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit local development corporation?

Opinion 15-16 May a village justice preside when village police officers appear in the village court?

Opinion 15-19 What are the obligations of a full-time judge who learns that his/her former law firm is still using the judge's name in its signage, letterhead, or other materials?

Opinion 15-20 May a town justice accept concurrent employment as a County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator?

Opinion 15-21 What are a judge's obligations when he/she learns that the county executive proposes to state truthfully, during an upcoming state of the county address, that the judge is a satisfied user of a county-run public transportation system?

Opinion 15-23 May a judge who teaches at a law school, but has no role in a pro bono clinical program organized as a separate legal entity from the law school, appoint the clinic and its qualified participants to fiduciary positions, and award fees as permitted by applicable rules and law?

Opinion 15-25 May a Family Court judge permit his/her court attorney to serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit organization which provides certain services to low-income residents in the region?

Opinion 15-30 May a judge affirmatively assist a newspaper in improving the accuracy of its reporting by regularly supplying factual information to the newspaper about cases in the judge’s court

Opinion 15-32 May a judge who is a resident shareholder and proprietary lessee in a cooperative housing corporation preside over tax certiorari cases brought by the law firm that represents the judge’s own building or housing corporation, on behalf of other clients?

Joint Opinion 15-35/15-75  (1) May a judge whose first-degree relative was killed by a driver who was charged with driving under the influence preside over cases involving persons charged with driving under the influence? (2) May a judge who was previously a victim of domestic violence preside over cases involving domestic violence allegations?

Opinion 15-39  May a judge preside in criminal matters involving domestic violence charges, if the judge knows that the probation department is likely to refer defendants who are convicted of crimes involving domestic violence charges to a program run by the judge’s social worker spouse?

Opinion 15-42 May a judge and his/her family share their experience with a not-for-profit religious organization’s summer camp with other families who are considering sending their children to the camp, at the request of the organization?

Opinion 15-43 What are a judge's obligations when a case that comes before the judge is one that the judge's law clerk had been personally involved in during the law clerk's former employment in a government law office? What are the judge's obligations with respect to other cases that were pending in that government law office during the law clerk's former employment, where the law clerk was in a non-supervisory role and had no personal involvement in the case.

Opinion 15-46 Where a judge's real estate purchase contract recently terminated by its terms without a resulting sale, may the judge preside in search warrant applications in which the prospective seller appears?

Opinion 15-47 May a judge require, as a condition of joining a treatment court program, that the defendant must agree to participate in an exercise program? If so, may the judge thereafter attend or participate in the exercise program together with treatment court participants?

Opinion 15-48 May a magistrates’ association publicly support a resolution urging a legislative change to assist local taxpayers in funding their local justice courts?

Opinion 15-57 May a judge accept an invitation to attend and participate in an out-of-state conference on women and justice that is co-sponsored by a law school, a limited liability company, and a law firm? If so, may the judge accept the law school’s offer to pay for the judge's accommodations?

Opinion 15-60 Once a judge has taken appropriate and effective remedial steps to mitigate his/her alma mater’s use of the judge’s name on invitations to the school’s fund-raiser, may the judge attend the event as an ordinary attendee?

Opinion 15-63 May a judge who was “of counsel” to a law firm five years ago, and its tenant a decade ago, appoint a partner of that firm to a Part 36 fiduciary appointment?

Opinion 15-65 What are a judge's obligations on learning that a letter he/she wrote decades ago in his/her former capacity as a non-judicial official is being anonymously circulated for partisan political purposes?

Opinion 15-68 May a judicial hearing officer participate in a bar association’s pro bono help desk at a court from which he/she accepts judicial hearing officer assignments?

Opinion 15-69 What are the disqualification obligations of a court attorney referee who did not personally report an attorney's misconduct to the grievance committee but instead advised the referring judge of his/her concerns so that the referring judge could make the report?

Opinion 15-71 May a judicial candidate participate in a pro-choice or pro-life advocacy organization’s interview process, answer questions during the interview, and, if offered, accept the organization’s endorsement?

Opinion 15-85 May a judge sua sponte review a defendant’s driving history before accepting or rejecting a proposed plea agreement? If so, must the judge disclose the contents of the driving history to the parties and counsel?

Opinion 15-92(A) May a judge serve as an officer of his/her religious institution, preach sermons, make administrative announcements, and allow his/her sermons to be broadcast via live streaming on the internet?

Opinion 15-92(B) May a judge write and forward a consular letter of invitation inviting family members to visit the judge in the United States, where this letter will set forth facts concerning the judge's income and its source in order to demonstrate that the judge is a responsible person who is able to meet the material and accommodation needs of the persons invited? If so, may the judge use judicial stationery for such a letter?

Opinion 15-107/15-110 Is disclosure or disqualification required in a criminal case if a co-judge's spouse has served, or may serve, as a social worker for the defendant on referral by the probation department?

Opinion 15-114 May a judge preside over a case involving the law firm of an attorney who represented the judge at a negotiation session in the judge's matrimonial matter, where the attorney now appearing before judge was completely insulated from any involvement in the judge's matrimonial matter? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 15-121 May a judicial candidate permit his/her campaign committee to establish Facebook connections with the campaign committees of other candidates on the same slate?

back to top


August 4, 2015 Broadcast

(See archive for additional opinions broadcast on this date.)

Opinion 15-03 May a judge chair a committee which informs members of a religious congregation of their membership fees?

Opinion 15-07 May a town judge voluntarily undertake to clear snow from the driveway of an abandoned property near his/her home as a public service?

Opinion 15-26/15-44 May a judge attend (1) an annual fund-raising event for a not-for profit organization that provides services and support to victims of domestic abuse and child abuse and/or (2) a non-fund-raising breakfast organized by a consortium of domestic violence agencies to promote discussion of current issues related to domestic violence, including recent and pending domestic violence legislation?

Opinion 15-62 What are a judge's obligations when the judge's spouse, who is a principal in a real estate LLC, wishes to rent a storefront to a partisan political organization?

Opinion 15-87 May a judge preside in cases involving the District Attorney’s office, when a co-judge’s spouse is employed as an Assistant District Attorney?

back to top


July 28, 2015 Broadcast

(See archive for additional opinions broadcast on this date.)

Opinion 15-06 May a town or village justice whose first-degree relative is a social worker in the local probation department’s domestic violence division preside in cases involving the probation department and/or allegations of domestic violence?

Opinion 15-40 May a judge whose spouse is the director of the regional chamber of commerce preside when an entity before the judge is a member of the chamber of commerce?

Opinion 15-90 May a judge accept an invitation to attend a bar association’s annual dinner as the guest of a law firm, where the cost of the dinner is approximately $500?

Opinion 15-96 May a judge receive, as part of an equitable distribution, a percentage of the future legal fees earned by his/her former spouse upon the settlement or verdict of any cases deemed part of the former spouse's law practice?  If so, what are the judge’s obligations when adverse counsel from those cases appear before the judge on unrelated matters?

Opinion 15-98 May a magistrates’ association send a letter expressing its position on legislation addressing a perceived disparity in the distribution of monies collected by New York's town and village courts, which affects the operation of such courts?

Opinion 15-106 Must a judge disclose that he/she engaged in a brief and non-substantive conversation with an attorney at a bar association function, while the attorney had a case pending before the judge? 

Opinion 15-108 May a judge preside when his/her co-judge’s child, or a law firm with which the co-judge’s child is affiliated as special counsel, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-109 May a part-time judge who is also employed full-time with a university engage in fund-raising from alumni, parents and friends of the university if such individuals reside outside New York State? 

Opinion 15-116 May a part-time town justice accept appointment as the town’s tax collector?

Opinion 15-118 May a full-time judge accept an invitation to become a member of a not-for-profit organization which has as its primary purpose the promotion of the culture of a particular religion as well as certain charitable works?

Opinion 15-123 May a part-time judge become a member of a governmental advisory committee on services for senior citizens?

Opinion 15-136 May a judge permit a student to make an audiovisual recording of a court proceeding?

back to top


June 26, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-14 What steps must an appellate judge take once the judge learns that his/her law clerk is seeking post-clerkship employment?

Opinion 15-18 May a judge preside in cases involving protestors, arrested on the same charges as the judge's second-degree relatives, where the judge's relatives are not parties and are unlikely to be material witnesses?

Opinion 15-56 May a judge post the procedure for resolving a traffic ticket on the Unified Court System's website?

Opinion 15-64 May a judge permit two defense attorneys who regularly appear before him/her to include the judge’s name as a reference on an application nominating the judge’s court attorney for an award from a legal publication?

Opinion 15-67 May a judge who is a former prosecutor preside in a case involving a formerly incarcerated individual's claim of actual innocence, under the totality of the circumstances presented?

Opinion 15-70 What is a judge’s ethical obligation when he/she learns that another judge appeared in his/her court and attempted to influence the outcome of a relative’s case?

Opinion 15-76 May a judge participate in a bar association CLE program entitled "Social Media Ethics Guidelines for Attorneys" when the panel includes law partners from various law firms?

Opinion 15-81 May a judge accept a bar association's gift of complimentary admission to an upcoming law-related conference for the judge and a guest, along with food and lodging expenses, where the total value of the gift is approximately $1500?

Opinion 15-88 May a judge preside when an attorney appearing in the judge’s court is also representing the judge’s child in an unrelated, contested matrimonial action?

Opinion 15-91 May a judge serve as a clothing model at a not-for-profit fund-raising luncheon/fashion show which includes raffles and a silent auction?

Opinion 15-95 What is a judge’s ethical obligation when the judge’s insurance company, which recently represented the interests of the judge or the judge’s first degree relative in two civil actions, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-97 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to accept reimbursement for the cost of lodging for two nights in connection with performing an out-of-town wedding for a good friend?

back to top


June 24, 2015 Broadcast

(See archive for additional opinions broadcast on this date.)

Opinion 15-01 May a non-judge who is seeking election or appointment to judicial office remain employed as a police officer until he/she takes and files his/her oath of office as a judge?

Opinion 15-02 May a judge preside in DWI cases involving blood drawn at a hospital where, in the judge's capacity as a physician, he/she is responsible for regulatory compliance with the hospital's emergency department phlebotomy services?

Opinion 15-04 Is an incumbent judge's public announcement that he/she will retire from the bench on a specific date, when coupled with an additional significant and reliable affirmative step to effectuate his/her retirement, sufficient to create a known judicial vacancy for the purpose of determining when the window period opens and individuals may publicly announce their interest in seeking election to the position?

Opinion 15-05 Must a judge disclose that his/her spouse is the administrative assistant to a councilperson, and in that capacity schedules appointments for the councilperson's constituents with a pro bono attorney, when a litigant who was assisted by the councilperson's pro bono attorney appears before the judge?

back to top


May 20, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-09 May a part-time City Court judge concurrently serve in the non-supervisory position of full-time deputy county attorney?

Opinion 15-17 May a judge play in a band, which usually performs without pay, at charitable events, block parties and parties for friends?

Opinion 15-22 What action, if any, is a judge required to take when the judge believes an attorney who is running for judicial office made an improper political contribution in violation of 22 NYCRR 100.5?

Opinion 15-24 May a judge agree to be profiled in a local, bimonthly publication and featured on its cover where the resulting article would address the judge's legal career, current judicial position, personal life and possibly prior public service?

Opinion 15-37 May a judge who has been publicly disciplined as a result of complaints made by the local prosecutor's office and the local public defender's office preside in matters in which attorneys from these offices appear?

Opinion 15-38 What is a judge's ethical obligation when the judge's former law firm associate, who is now an assistant district attorney, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-41 May a judge preside when his/her co-judge's child appears before the judge as an attorney?

Opinion 15-53 Is a judge disqualified from presiding in a civil action after testifying in a separate criminal proceeding, pursuant to a subpoena, about the orders and directives he/she issued in the civil action?

Opinion 15-54 Is a judge obligated to report two prosecutors to an attorney grievance committee based on what the judge believes to be professional misconduct?

Opinion 15-55 Is disclosure required when an attorney appearing before the judge supported the judge's judicial candidacy at a judicial nominating convention nearly a decade ago?

back to top


February 25, 2015 Broadcast

(See archive for additional opinions broadcast on this date.)

Opinion 15-10 May a judge preside in cases involving a local county agency where the judge was previously employed as a supervising attorney?

back to top


Researching and Retrieving Other Committee Opinions

Simply click the link for Search ACJE Opinions to research and retrieve other Committee opinions.

For suggestions on use of the search engine, click on Search Help.

back to top


Formal and Informal Ethics Inquiries

Individuals who are subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct may seek further guidance from the Advisory Committee on how to apply these and other rules and opinions to their own prospective conduct in specific circumstances.

Simply click the link for Requesting an Opinion for more information.

The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics does not accept inquiries by e-mail.

back to top