October 24, 2002
Digest: Under section 100.0(Q) of the Rule Governing Judicial Conduct, the “Window Period” commences either nine months prior (1) to the date of formal nomination by primary, caucus or convention or (2) to the date of a party meeting at which a candidate will be endorsed, even if that designation is subject to being contested at a subsequent primary.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.0(Q). Opinions 94-97 (Vol.XII); 97-121 (Vol. XVI).
A full-time judge who is anticipating declaring candidacy for another full-time judicial office asks for clarification concerning the appropriate date that the judge may properly commence the “Window Period” for the new candidacy. Specifically, the judge asks if it is appropriate to commence the “Window Period” nine months before the first date on which political parties’ designating petitions may be circulated.
The “Window Period” denotes a period beginning nine months before a primary election, judicial nominating convention, party caucus or other party meeting for nominating candidates for the elective judicial office for which a judge or non-judge is a candidate, and ending, if the judge or non-judge is a candidate in the general election for that office, six months after the general election, or if he/she is not a candidate in the general election, six months after the date of the primary election, convention or meeting. 22 NYCRR 100.0(Q). Opinion 97-121 (Vol. XVI).
It is the opinion of this Committee that, for purposes of determining the date of the commencement of the applicable Window Period, a judicial candidate should count back nine months either from the date of the formal nomination, i.e., the scheduled primary, convention or party caucus; or the nine months from the date of an official party meeting at which a candidate for the judicial office will be designated and endorsed, whichever date is earlier. Opinion 94-97 (Vol. XII). If no date for such a meeting has yet been set, the candidate may assume that the previous year’s official date will be used again for the upcoming party meeting and then count back nine months from that presumed date.
We note that the choice made at a “party meeting” may be subject to challenge at a subsequent primary. Nonetheless, the rule implicitly recognizes that the party meeting almost always, as a practical matter, is the crucial and decisive event. Accordingly, a judge may declare his/her candidacy at a date that would commence the Window Period nine months before the first date on which political parties’ designating petitions may be circulated, if not even earlier based upon an official party meeting at which a candidate for the judicial office will be designated and endorsed, which meeting may take place prior to that date.