Opinion 88-139

December 8, 1988


Topic:          Propriety of town judge campaigning to have all court employees located in one office.


Digest:         A judge may not campaign to have all court employees located in oneoffice.


Rules :         22 NYCRR 100.4(b); 100.7; Canon 7B(1)(c) of the Code of Judicial Conduct


         A town judge states that several months ago, the village administration assigned his court personnel to work in two offices. He believes that the employees cannot cover two separate offices and that the village is expending additional unnecessary tax dollars. He will be running for re-election in March, 1989, and wishes to know whether it would be permissible for him to actively campaign to have all the court employees located in one office.

         Section 100.7 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts provides that no judge during a term of office “shall take part in any political campaign except his or her own campaign for elective judicial office.”

         Canon 7B(1)(c) of the Code of Judicial Conduct states that a candidate for judicial office should not:


make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office; announce his views on disputed legal or political issues.

         The assignment of personnel of a town court is a legislative matter. A judicial campaign directed against this legislative action of the town administrator goes beyond the issues a judge would raise in his own judicial campaign, and would constitute a partisan political activity inappropriate for a judge.

          The judge, however, may appear at public hearings and consult with the town administrator in connection with the assignment of court personnel, pursuant to section 100.4(b) of the Rules, which permits judges to engage in activities to improve the administration of justice.