Opinion 18-168

May 6, 2019

Dear :


         This responds to your inquiry (18-168) asking if you may, on assuming full-time judicial office, continue to engage in certain extra-judicial activities. As described, they are permissible, subject to limits described in the enclosed opinions.

1. Bar Association Activities

         A judge may serve in leadership positions in bar associations, including as an officer, director, committee chair, or non-legal advisor to a local or national bar association, provided these activities do not interfere with proper performance of judicial duties or cast reasonable doubt on his/her capacity to act impartially. In doing so, the judge must abide by all applicable limits on judicial speech and conduct, including the prohibitions on fund-raising, membership solicitation, political activity, ranking or evaluating judicial candidates, and public comment on pending or impending cases within the United States or its territories.

         Opinions 15-229, 11-29, 08-156, 08-137, 03-63, 98-50, 96-49, 91-72, 89-91, and 88-100 are attached for your reference.


2. Executive Branch Official’s Committee Concerning New Detention Facility

         Although full-time judges may not accept appointment to all governmental committees or commissions, they generally may do so if the position concerns “the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice” (22 NYCRR 100.4[C][2][a]). Thus, a full-time judge may serve on a governmental task force to help address impacts of closing a prison facility, where its members represent a broad spectrum of interests and the task force will focus on planning for an orderly transition rather than fielding complaints.


         Opinion 18-60 is attached for your reference.

3. Law School Instruction


         A full-time judge may teach or lecture part-time at a private law school, and accept reasonable compensation therefor (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[H][1][a] [compensation also must not “exceed what a person who is not a judge would receive for the same activity”]). If the compensation exceeds $150, the judge must file a report “at least annually” with the court clerk’s office (22 NYCRR 100.4[H][2] [full-time judge must “report the date, place and nature” of the activity “and the payor’s name and amount of compensation”]).

         When a judge teaches at a law school or college, a slightly modified version of the public comment rule applies. Thus, a judge “may discuss cases during [the] law school class that are relevant to the subject matter..., but not a case in which [he/she is] presiding or one pending in the [judge’s] jurisdiction” (Opinion 10-189).

         Opinions 92-05, 12-126, 10-189, and 95-105 are attached for your reference.

                                       Very truly yours,


                                       George D. Marlow, Assoc Justice

                                       Appellate Div., First Dept. (Ret)

                                       Committee Co-Chair


                                       Hon. Margaret T. Walsh

                                       Supreme Court Justice

                                       Committee Co-Chair