June 12, 2003
Digest: A judge may present a lecture at a program sponsored by the Latin Advocacy Coalition Campaign Academy, provided that such participation does not involve the judge in partisan political activities.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.4(A),(B); 100.5; Opinions 92-05 (Vol. IX); 94-57 (Vol. XII); 02-20.
A judge asks whether it is ethically permissible to serve as a lecturer for the Latino Advocacy Coalition Campaign Academy. The Academy is sponsored by a non-partisan group whose aim is to encourage Latino involvement in the political process, with an emphasis on the development of political candidates. The topic of the lecture is “Voter Contact.” It does not appear that the organization is involved in promoting candidates, or is otherwise involved in the political process by way of endorsement or other support. See e.g. Opinions 96-38 (Vol. XIV); 98-100 (Vol. XVII).
A judge may engage in extra-judicial activities that (1) do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s ability to remain impartial; (2) do not detract from the dignity of judicial office, and; (3) do not conflict with the judge’s judicial obligations and are not incompatible with judicial office. 22 NYCRR 100.4(A). Section 100.4(B) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct specifically allows judges to serve as lecturers. In the past this Committee has concluded that a judge can teach law for a not-for profit education institution [92-05 (Vol. IX)]; teach dance for a not-for-profit corporation [94-57 (Vol. XII)]; and lecture at a business training workshop offered by a not-for-profit organization (02-20).
Similarly, the Committee is of the opinion that the judge in the present inquiry may give a lecture at a program for the Latino Advocacy Coalition Campaign Academy, with one proviso. Because the judge has described the Coalition as “non-partisan” and it apparently engages in an educational activity, the Committee does not believe the judge’s participation as a lecturer for the Coalition’s Academy would violate section 100.5 of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct which prohibits judges from engaging in any political activity. 22 NYCRR 100.5. If the judge finds, however, that serving as a lecturer will involve the judge in partisan political activities, he/she should not serve as a lecturer. In particular, we refer the judge to Opinions 98-101 (Vol. XVII) and 96-38 (Vol. XVI), for further guidance.