March 13, 2008
Digest: A full-time judge should not advise a comedian on how to portray a judge on a commercial television show.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(3); Opinions 04-97; 94-116 (Vol. XIII).
A judge has been asked to participate in an interview with a well-known comedian who seeks background material in preparation for portraying a judge on a television series. While the interview would be taped, it would not be used on air, and the judge would neither appear nor be credited on the program. The judge will not accept the honorarium offered by the television station.
Pursuant to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, a full-time judge may not serve as an “advisor ... of any business entity” (22 NYCRR 100.4[D]). The Committee previously has concluded that a judge may not participate in a television production intended to result in a commercial television series based on the judge's judicial experiences and life, where the judge’s role was similarly advisory in nature (see Opinion 94-116 [Vol. XIII]). Under the circumstances presented here, the same prohibition applies, even if the judge is not given the formal title of “advisor” and would not be compensated (see Opinion 04-97).