April 28, 2011
Digest: A part-time judge may not simultaneously be the office manager for the county probation department that serves the same county where the judge’s court is located.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.6(B)(4); Opinions 02-93; 95-68 (Vol. XIII); 90-186 (Vol. VI).
A part-time town justice asks whether he/she may also be employed as an office manager for the county probation department that serves the same county where his/her court is located.
A judge must avoid even the appearance of impropriety (see 22 NYCRR 100.2) and must always act to promote public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity and impartiality (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). While part-time judges may accept public employment in a municipal department, such employment cannot be incompatible with judicial office nor conflict or interfere with the proper performance of the judge’s judicial duties (see 22 NYCRR 100.6[B]).
In Opinion 02-93, the Committee advised that a part-time judge may also perform clerical work for a probation department in a county other than the county where the judge’s court is located, because the work would be performed outside the judge’s territorial jurisdiction. For the same reason, the Committee also advised that a part-time judge may be employed as work-crew supervisor for a community service program run by the probation department of an adjoining county (see Opinion 90-186 [Vol. VI]). However, in Opinion 95-68 (Vol. XIII), the Committee advised that a part-time judge may not also work as an Account Clerk/Typist performing data entry for the county probation department in the same county where the judge presides. In the Committee’s view, such employment could cause an appearance of impropriety as the public could reasonably believe that the judge might be unduly influenced in the performance of judicial duties by his/her probation department supervisors or by his/her ex parte exposure to information regarding cases over which the judge presides (see id.)
Therefore, for the same reasons the Committee expressed in Opinion 95-68 (Vol. XIII), the inquiring part-time judge may not be simultaneously employed as an office manager for the county probation department that serves the same county where his/her court is located.