Opinion 21-53


March 11, 2021




Digest:    A full-time judge may volunteer as an editor for a not-for-profit poetry journal.


Rules:     22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.4(A)(1)-(3); 100.4(B); 100.4(D)(3); Opinion 96-143/97-43/97-58/97-66/97-96.




           The inquiring full-time judge asks if it is ethically permissible to serve as an unpaid editor for two not-for-profit poetry journals, selecting poetry for publication. One of the journals is published exclusively online and is freely available to all. The other journal is available online at no charge through university library databases and is available in print for paid subscribers but is likewise a non-commercial enterprise.


           A judge must always avoid even the appearance of impropriety (see 22 NYCRR 100.2) and must always act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity and impartiality (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). Thus, a judge may speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in extra-judicial activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[B]), as long as such activities are not incompatible with judicial office nor cast doubt on the capacity to act impartially as a judge, detract from the dignity of judicial office, or interfere with the judge’s judicial duties (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[A][1]-[3]). However, a full-time judge must not serve as an “advisor, employee or other active participant of any business entity,” unless an exception applies (22 NYCRR 100.4[D][3]).


           We have advised that a full-time judge may not serve as consultant, advisor, or editor for a commercial publishing company, “if such service involves consultation and advice concerning the work of authors other than themselves” (Opinion 96-143/97-43/97-58/97-66/97-96, relying on 22 NYCRR 100.4[D][3]). Here, however, these poetry journals are clearly non-commercial in nature and we believe Section 100.4(D)(3) does not prohibit a full-time judge’s involvement as editor, even if it involves consultation and advice concerning other poets’ works.


           On the information provided, we find that volunteering as editor for these poetry journals is unlikely to compromise the judge’s actual or apparent neutrality or detract from the dignity of judicial office and, therefore, is permissible.