Opinion 88-78

June 13, 1988


Topic:          Administrative Judge to hire court employee who works under his supervision to do contracting work at judge’s home in the employee’s spare time.


Digest:         A judge should not hire a court employee who works under his supervision to perform personal work for him, even at a fair rate of pay, and even if such work does not interfere with court work, in order to avoid the possible appearance of impropriety.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.2


         An Administrative Judge inquires whether he may hire a court employee who works under his supervision to perform carpentry work, in the employee’s spare time, at the judge’s home. The employee would receive a fair remuneration for his work.

         While a judge’s hiring of a court employee to perform personal work is not intrinsically improper, if the employee works under the supervision of the judge, it might, under given circumstances, give rise to an appearance of impropriety by the judge. Thus, pursuant to section 100.2 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator, which requires judges to avoid any appearance of impropriety, judges should not hire court employees who work under their supervision to perform personal services for them, even if there is no coercion, expectation of benefits, interference with court work, or other actual impropriety. In this case, while there is no actual impropriety, it would be impossible to avoid completely the possible “appearance of impropriety.”

         This Opinion is advisory only and does not bind either the Office of Court Administration or the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

SJS/ job