January 24, 2018
Digest: A part-time town justice may simultaneously serve as a county employee in the same county where he/she presides as (1) a senior network administrator for the county government’s information technology department or (2) director of information technology for the county.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2(A); 100.4(C)(2)(b); 100.6(B)(4); Opinions 17-46; 01-124; 95-79; 88-05.
A part-time town justice asks if he/she may simultaneously serve as a county employee in the same county where he/she presides, either as (1) a senior network administrator for the county government’s information technology department or as (2) director of information technology for the county?
A judge must always respect and comply with the law and act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity and impartiality (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). A part-time judge may accept public employment in a municipal department or agency, “provided that such employment is not incompatible with judicial office and does not conflict or interfere with the proper performance of the judge’s duties” (22 NYCRR 100.6[B]).
A part-time judge may, in appropriate circumstances, be a county employee in the same county where he/she presides (see Opinion 17-46). For example, a part-time judge may serve as the deputy county clerk in charge of motor vehicle operations, where he/she will oversee “reissuing of New York registration plates and operators’ licenses,” unless he/she is called upon to assume the powers of the County Clerk (Opinion 88-05). A part-time judge may also be involved in overseeing administration of a licensed profession unrelated to the law (see Opinion 01-124 [a part-time judge who is also a licensed respiratory therapist may serve on a board which “advises and assists the Board of Regents on such matters as professional licensing, practice and conduct”]).
Nor do we see any inherent ethical conflict between part-time judicial office and an information technology role (see e.g. Opinion 95-79) as it does not involve quasi-prosecutorial responsibilities or confer peace officer or police officer status (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C][b]).
Accordingly, the judge may accept employment with the county in either of the proposed information technology roles.