September 16, 2010
Digest: A judge may not serve on a panel that will discuss the principles of legislative redistricting and the governing law as the subjects are inherently political and highly controversial.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.4(B); 100.5(A)(1); Opinions 06-32; 94-02 (Vol. XII)
A judge asks whether he/she may serve on a panel that will discuss the principles of legislative redistricting and the governing law. The inquirer was invited to participate because he/she is very knowledgeable about the subject.
A judge must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all the judge’s activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.2) and must act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). In addition, a judge may participate in extra-judicial activities including speaking engagements, subject to the requirements of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[B]).
Sitting judges are prohibited from directly or indirectly engaging in any political activity except as otherwise provided by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and by law (see 22 NYCRR 100.5[A]) and must avoid involvement in controversial public issues (see Opinions 06-32; 94-02 [Vol. XII]). As the subject of redistricting is inherently political and normally highly controversial, it is the Committee’s view that the inquirer should not serve on a panel that will discuss redistricting.