Opinion 90-166

December 11, 1990


Digest:         A part-time judge may participate only in an indirect and de minimis way in civic, charitable, or religious fundraising events; when seeking re-election, such a judge may campaign with other candidates who make up the slate, without endorsing them; such a judge may serve as a fire police officer and play on the firehouse softball team.


Rules:          22 NYCRR §§100.5(b)(2); 100.7(a)(2)(iii); 100.5(b)


         A part-time judge inquires whether such a judge may participate in a variety of local social, religious and civic or charitable activities, including fundraisers for charitable purposes, and whether the judge, who is seeking re-election, may go on a door-to-door campaign with fellow party candidates and whether the judge’s picture may appear on campaign literature with other party candidates.

         The judge may clean tables at a civic organization’s fundraiser. The judge may serve as the flagger in a race and may help put canoes in the water, although an entrance fee is paid, and the judge may pass the collection basket for church funds. To the extent that these activities relate to fundraising, they all involve de minimis participation, and, therefore, are not prohibited.

         The judge also may serve on a “Government Relations” Committee of the Elks Club, may belong to a yacht club, and may run recreation contests there.

         Section 100.7(a)(2) (iii) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts states that a judge, during a nine-month period prior to the judge’s election, may attend a politically sponsored dinner or affair in support of a slate of candidates, and may appear on podiums or in photographs on political literature with the candidates who make up that slate, provided that the judge is part of the slate of candidates.

         Accordingly, the activities mentioned are permitted and the judge may appear at forums and have the judge’s picture appear in campaign literature with other members of the political party who also are seeking office, provided that the judge does not state or indicate that the judge is endorsing the other candidates.

         In a third inquiry, the judge states that the judge belongs to a fire company and asks if the judge can be a fire police officer and play on the firehouse softball team.

         Section 100.5(h) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct provides that in part that, “No judge shall accept employment as a peace officer as that term is defined in Section 1.20 of the Criminal Procedure Law.”

         Assuming that a fire police officer is not a peace officer, the judge may act as a fire police officer and may play on the firehouse softball team. The judge, however, must disqualify himself or herself if any activity in which the judge participates comes before the judge.