Opinion 12-26

March 8, 2012


Digest:         A judge may not provide an endorsement of a book that would appear on the book’s back cover and identify him/her - although not by name - as a New York State Judge.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.2(C); Opinions 11-54; 05-28; 97-133 (Vol. XVI); 93-14 (Vol. X).


         A full-time judge asks whether he/she may “provide a brief endorsement for use on the back cover” of a friend’s non-fiction book which explores a general topic relating to government operations. The book would not identify the judge by name or title. The judge notes that the book’s back cover now has anonymous endorsements from public officials around the world, identifying the general region and role of each such official, and the judge expects to be identified as a “New York State Judge.”

         A judge must always 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]). Nor may a judge lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[C]).

         The Committee has advised previously that a judge may not give an accountant-friend a quote for inclusion on the inside leaf of a book about auditing for fraud, even if the judge’s judicial title is omitted (see Opinion 11-54); may not permit a fiction book’s author or publisher to use any portion of the judge’s book review to promote book sales (see Opinion 05-28); may not, after reviewing a criminal practice treatise, prepare a “testimonial which would be included in a brochure used for marketing purposes” (Opinion 97-133 [Vol. XVI] [noting that the judge would be impermissibly involved “in the commercial and promotional aspects of marketing” another’s work); and may not author a quote about a book involving legal issues to be used on the book jacket to promote book sales (see Opinion 93-14 [Vol. X]). In each instance, the Committee concluded that the judge’s proposed involvement would impermissibly lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of another (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[C]).

         For similar reasons, the Committee concludes that the inquiring judge should not provide an endorsement for the book’s back cover, identifying him/her, although not by name or exact judicial title, as a New York State Judge (see Opinions 11-54; 05-28; 97-133 [Vol. XVI]; 93-14 [Vol. X]).