April 24, 2008
Digest: A full-time judge may not serve as an advisor to a friend who is developing a fictional show about rookie police officers for commercial television.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(3); Opinions 94-116 (Vol. XIII); 89-22 (Vol. III).
A full-time judge asks whether he/she can assist a friend who is developing a fictional show about rookie police officers for commercial television. The judge would give advice about the legal aspects of the fictional stories, i.e. whether the stories are realistic and whether the author has accurately portrayed the law and the criminal justice system in New York. The judge advises that he/she will not receive any compensation for the advice and will not be identified as a contributor to the show.
The Committee has previously advised that a full-time judge may not review scripts for a pilot television production about the judge’s judicial experiences and life (see Opinion 94-116 [Vol. XIII]) or serve as a paid consultant for a weekly dramatic series about judges and the court system (see Opinion 89-22 [Vol. III]), as a full-time judge is prohibited from serving as an active participant in any for-profit business entity (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[D]). Therefore, the judge here may not serve as an advisor to his/her friend who is developing a fictional show about rookie police officers for commercial television. The lack of credit or compensation does not change the Committee’s view since the rules contain no such exception.