September 18, 1990
Digest: A part-time judge, who is employed as a bus driver for the local school district which owns and operates its own fleet of buses, may serve as the president of the school bus driver’s union subject to limitations.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§100.5.(h); 100.2.
A part-time judge who works as a bus driver for the local school district, which owns and operates its own fleet of buses, inquires whether it would be proper to serve as president of the bus driver’s union. The union represents the drivers in various negotiations with the school board.
Section 100.5(h) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides:
A part-time judge may accept a private employment or public employment in a Federal, State or municipal department or agency, provided that such employment is not incompatible with judicial office and does not conflict or interfere with the proper performance of the judge’s duties.
While the foregoing provision does not appear to proscribe the judge from serving as the president of the local bus drivers’ union, certain limitations may make it impractical. The judge will be disqualified from presiding in any case involving the school bus company or drivers which may come before the judge, since presiding over such a case would give an appearance of impropriety in violation of section 100.2 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator. See Committee Opinion 88-84. In addition, the judge cannot personally negotiate with the school board and must comply with the Taylor Law. Accordingly, the judge may serve as president of the school bus drivers union, but if recusal is too frequent, the judge should not serve as president.