August 23, 2012
This responds to your inquiry (12-04) asking whether, as a Family Court judge presiding over abuse and neglect cases, it is ethically permissible to give a seminar on educational law to Department of Social Services caseworkers, Deputy County Attorneys who appear in Family Court, Legal Aid Attorneys and any other attorneys interested in attending.
All judges must avoid impropriety and 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]). Further, judges may engage in extra-judicial activities such as teaching or lecturing (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[B]) as long as these activities do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge, do not interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties and are not incompatible with judicial office (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[A], ). Since representatives of all sides of abuse and neglect cases as well as any other interested attorneys are invited to attend, it is ethically permissible to give a seminar on a specific area of law.
Enclosed, for your convenience are Opinions 12-27 and 12-70 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dep’t (Ret.)