September 4, 2003
Digest: A Housing Court judge, who is seeking election to the Civil Court of New York City, may circulate campaign literature which displays a photograph of himself or herself in judicial robes and which refers to the candidate as “judge.”
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(2)(ii); 100.5 (A)(4)(a); Opinion. 99-117 (Vol. XVIII); 98-89 (Vol. XVII).
A Housing Court judge is seeking election to the office of judge of the Civil Court of New York City, and inquires whether he or she may circulate campaign literature which has a photograph of himself/herself in judicial robes and refers to the candidate as “judge.”
Although a Housing Court judge is not a judge of the Unified Court System, he or she is a judge. The term “housing judge” is used in sections 110(a), (e), (f)and (i) of the New York City Civil Court Act, setting forth the authority, qualifications and method of appointment of housing judges. The functions performed and the statutory designation entitle such persons to use the title “judge” and to wear judicial robes in campaign photographs.
A judge who is a candidate for election to judicial office (and this includes the inquirer) may distribute pamphlets and other promotional campaign literature supporting his or her candidacy. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(2)(ii). The Committee has
previously acknowledged the use of the title of judge in campaign literature and other permissible areas, e.g. to promote a law book written by the judge, as proper conduct. Opinions 99-117 (Vol. XVIII); 98-89 (Vol. XVII). The Committee has also advised that the use of a photograph of a judge in his or her judicial robe in materials promoting a law book written by the judge was also permissible. Opinion 98-89 (Vol. XVII). Accordingly, in our view, there is no ethical barrier to a judge circulating campaign literature with a photograph of himself or herself in judicial robes and using the title of judge. 22 NYCRR 100.5 (A)(4)(a).