January 31, 2008
Digest: A judge who is a member of a non-partisan, fraternal organization may serve on the campaign committee for an individual running for election to national office in the organization, but may not allow the campaign committee to include his/her judicial title in campaign publications.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2(C);100.4(A),(C)(3); 100.5(A)(1)(e).
A judge who is a member of a non-partisan, fraternal organization asks if he/she may serve on the campaign committee for an individual running for election to national office in the organization. In addition, the judge indicates that the professional titles of other campaign committee members will be included in campaign publications, and asks if his/her judicial title also may be included.
Pursuant to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, a judge may engage in extra-judicial activities that do not (1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge; (2) detract from the dignity of judicial office; or (3) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties and are not incompatible with judicial office (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[A]). Such permissible extra-judicial activities include membership in not-for-profit educational, religious, charitable, cultural, fraternal, and civic organizations (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C]).
While a judge is prohibited from publicly endorsing or opposing another candidate for public office (see 22 NYCRR 100.5[A][e]), there is no analogous rule prohibiting the inquiring judge from endorsing a candidate for office in a private, not-for-profit organization. However, because the judge may not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[C]), he/she may not take the extra step to permit the campaign committee to include his/her judicial title in campaign publications.