Opinion 05-157

January 26, 2006


Digest:         Under the circumstances presented, a judge who, together with his/her spouse, has authored a book on the pictorial history of county courthouses and who is not being compensated, may permit the publisher to seek sponsorship of its publication from corporations, law firms and other entities, but the judge should not be involved in any way in such solicitations.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.4 (B); 100.2 (c). Opinions 99-145 (Vol XVIII); 97-01 (Vol XV); 95-145 (Vol XIII); 94-68 (Vol XII); 93-14 (Vol X)


         A judge asks whether it is permissible for the judge and his/her spouse to co-author a book containing a pictorial history of county courthouses throughout New York State when the publisher will profit and the publisher intends to solicit sponsorships for this publication from corporations, law firms and other entities. The book is under the aegis of The Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York, which will receive a portion of the proceeds. The judge and his/her spouse will receive no compensation from the project, and, indeed, have donated much of their own time and resources to this effort.

         The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct provide that a "judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others." 22 NYCRR 100.2 (C). Thus, a judge may not write a Foreword to another author’s book or permit the author or publisher to use a favorable quote from a book review written by the judge to promote a book’s sale. Opinion 05-28; 97-01(Vol XV). Nevertheless, a judge may speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in activities concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice. 22 NYCRR 100.4(A); Opinions 97-01 (Vol. XV); 95-145 (Vol. XIII); 93-14 (Vol. X); see also, Opinion 99-145 (Vol. XVIII). Provided that the judge takes appropriate steps to ensure that his/her judicial position is not exploited (Opinion 05-28), promotion of the judge’s own contribution to a publication is permissible as an adjunct to such extra-judicial activity. Opinion 94-68 (Vol. XII).


         Thus, it is the opinion of the Committee that - if done solely to facilitate its publication - the promotion of a book co-authored by the judge may include sponsorship of the book’s publication from corporations, law firms and other entities. Accordingly, under the circumstances presented here, there is no ethical impediment to the publisher soliciting sponsorships to facilitate publication of the book. The judge recognizes that he/she may not have any involvement in soliciting such sponsorships.