October 7, 2016
This responds to your inquiry (16-128) asking if you may volunteer to judge in a mock trial, outside New York State, organized by a private law firm for the benefit of their associates and for in-house attorneys of the law firm’s client.
A judge must always avoid even the appearance of impropriety (see 22 NYCRR 100.2) and must always act to promote the judiciary’s integrity and independence (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). While a judge may engage in extra-judicial activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[B]), he/she must do so in a manner that does not advance private interests of others or convey the impression that third parties are in a special position to influence the judge (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[C]). Thus, the Committee has previously said that a judge may not provide the benefit of his/her judicial knowledge, expertise and experience exclusively to lawyers of a private law firm.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 14-96; 13-187; 12-140; and 12-44 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Family Court Judge
Acting Justice of the Supreme Court