April 9, 2020
This responds to your inquiry (19-152) asking if you, a full-time judge, may appear at an upcoming agency meeting in support of a not-for-profit entity’s license application. You are a co-founder, officer and director of the entity, and have specialized professional skills and training relevant to the license application. You advise you will be unable to use these skills and training to serve your community unless the application is granted.
A full-time judge may not appear at a public hearing before an executive or legislative body or official “except on matters concerning the law, the legal system or the administration of justice or except when acting pro se in a matter involving the judge or the judge’s interests” (22 NYCRR 100.4[C]). Thus, we said a full-time judge may not appear at a Town Board meeting in the judge’s capacity as a board member of a hospital in support of a proposed expansion project of the hospital (see Opinion 05-08). Similarly, a judge who is one of two directors of a not-for-profit entity may not speak or appear at a regional EMS council’s public hearing concerning the entity’s application to own and operate an emergency vehicle (see Opinion 19-126).
The meeting you have described likewise does not concern the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. Nor does it fall within the exception, since you would not be “acting pro se” on a matter involving your own direct, personal interests within the meaning of the rule, but would instead be appearing on behalf of the entity and in support of its application. We thus conclude that you may not attend the meeting.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 19-126 and 05-08 for your review, addressing this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc Justice
Appellate Div., First Dept. (Ret)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Supreme Court Justice