Opinion 13-25

June 27, 2013

Dear Judge:

         This responds to your inquiry (13-25) asking whether you may accept employment as an Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator at a correctional facility. You indicate that your responsibilities would include performing assessments to prepare offenders for eventual return to the community; providing on-going individual and group counseling to assist offenders with personal, social, institutional, behavioral, and disciplinary issues; assisting offenders preparing to appear before the Board of Parole; serving as a facility-based link between the Board of Parole, criminal justice agencies, and law enforcement partners, community service partners, community service providers and assigned field staff, to develop an offender’s supervision plan. You also would be responsible for preparing comprehensive evaluative summary release reports, and developing case-specific supervision plans for the Board of Parole.

         You further indicate that you would not sentence defendants to serve in the facility where you would be working and you would disqualify yourself if an inmate should ever appear before you. In addition, you would not work with an inmate who had appeared in your court.

         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]). A judge must not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance anyone’s private interests (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[C]).

         The Committee previously has advised that a part-time judge also may be employed by the New York State Department of Correctional Services (see Opinions 00-96 [tractor trailer operator delivering products produced by inmates]); as a hair stylist at the county jail (see Opinion 96-123 [Vol. XV]); as a nurse in a county jail (see Opinion 92-86 [Vol. X]); and, as a drug counselor for prison inmates (see Opinion 90-201[Vol. VII]).

         Therefore, you may accept employment as an Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator at a correctional facility. However, you must disqualify yourself from any case in which an inmate with whom you personally interacted in that capacity appears in your court (see Opinions 96-123 [Vol. XV], 92-86 [Vol. X], 90-201 [Vol. VII]). And, if you must disqualify yourself so frequently that your employment interferes with the proper performance of your judicial duties, you must resign either from your judgeship or your employment with the correctional facility(see Opinion 90-201 [Vol. VII]).

         I have enclosed Opinions 00-96, 96-123, 92-86 and 90-201 for your convenience.


Very truly yours,


George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice

Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)

Committee Chair