October 18, 2007
Digest: (1) With appropriate administrative approval, a judge who is a candidate for election to judicial office may take a photograph of him/herself in a judicial robe in front of the door to the judge’s chambers, for use in a campaign advertisement. (2) A judge may not use a video for campaign purposes that will be filmed inside the judge’s chambers or that will show the judge inside of the courthouse while asking viewers to vote for him/her.
Rules: 22 NYCRR Part 29; 100.5(A)(2); Opinions 05-101; 04-16; 03-90.
A judge who is a candidate for elective judicial office asks if he/she may use a photograph of him/herself in a campaign advertisement to be taken in front of the door to the judge’s chambers. The judge will be wearing his/her judicial robe and the judge’s name and title as printed on the chambers door will be visible in the photograph. The judge also asks if he/she may use a video for campaign purposes that will (1) show the judge’s chambers door from a public hallway in the courthouse; (2) depict the judge studying cases in the judge’s chambers library; and, (3) show the judge exiting his/her chambers, dressed in a judicial robe, asking the viewer to vote for him/her.
A judge who is a candidate for judicial office may, during the judge’s Window
Period, appear in media advertisements supporting his or her candidacy. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(2). The judge may be depicted wearing a judicial robe and in any public place to which the general public has access. Opinions 05-101; 04-16; 03-90.
In the present inquiry, because the door to the judge’s chambers opens into a public hallway, and the door will be filmed from the public hallway, the judge may include an image of his/her chambers door in a campaign advertisement. The judge first must obtain the appropriate administrative permission to take photographs inside the courthouse. 22 NYCRR Part 29.
The judge may not, however, be filmed inside his/her chambers, or inside the courthouse while asking viewers to vote for him/her. See Opinion 05-101 (stating that “care must be taken to avoid using photographs that might convey the impression that the courthouse is being used for political purposes and, in particular, to facilitate the candidacy of a sitting judge.”)