June 26, 2017
This responds to your inquiry (17-83) asking whether it is ethically permissible to speak on the development of a particular area of law in New York State and in other jurisdictions. This is a free, non-political event that is open to the public. The event’s sponsor is a not-for-profit civic or educational organization.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct permit a judge to “speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in extra-judicial activities” subject to certain requirements (22 NYCRR 100.4[B]). “Such activities include teaching and lecturing about the law and the administration of justice and include explanations of the procedures and operations of the court” (Opinion 98-87).
Thus, it is permissible to participate in the program described provided that you do not say anything that could be reasonably interpreted as reflecting a predisposition of any kind in connection with cases involving this area of the law. In addition, it is not permissible to comment on any proceedings pending or impending in any court in the United States or its territories (see 22 NYCRR 100.3[B]).
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 15-125 and 98-87, which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Div., First Dep’t (Ret.)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Family Court Judge
Acting Justice, Supreme Court