January 25, 2001
A full-time judge may not serve as chairperson of the business ethics committee
of a not-for-profit hospital.
22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3);
A full-time judge who serves as director of a not-for-profit hospital asks whether the judge may serve as chair of its newly formed business ethics committee. The function of the committee would be to review any and all proposed transactions, contracts or relationships between the organization and its directors.
Section 100.4(C)(3) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct provides that a judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, cultural, fraternal or civic organization not conducted for profit. But this general grant of permission does not mean that the scope of a judge's activities in such a position is without any limitations. Here, implicit in any decision by the business ethics committee is the conclusion that a proposed contract or relationship is also in compliance with the not-for-profit corporation law, of New York, and meets all other legal requirements. This implicit finding, combined with the responsibility for review of all contracts and proposed transactions, places the judge in the position of a legal advisor to the hospital. Section 100.4(C)(3) of the Rules precludes such service. See also Opinion 00-76. It is therefore the Committee's opinion that the judge should not serve on the business ethics committee of the hospital as chair or as a committee member.