March 1, 1990
Digest: A judge may serve on the advisory board of a neighborhood crime prevention program in a limited capacity.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§ 100.4( c).and 100.5 (b)(1)
A judge who presides over criminal cases asks if she may serve as a member of an advisory board for a neighborhood crime prevention program. The board meets formally once a year, and gives advice and guidance to the staff and the executive board of the program on an ongoing basis.
The crime prevention program operates a drug watch program, in which trained community members patrol the neighborhood observing and reporting their observations of specific drug deals to the police. The organization also acts as a liaison between the community and the criminal justice system and works to bring about changes in the court system which will aid in crime prevention.
Section 100.5 (b) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator states that:
A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties. A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee or nonlegal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members, subject to the following limitations. 1) a judge shall not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before him or her or will be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.
Section 100.4 ( c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator states that a judge:
may serve as a member, officer or director of an organization or governmental agency devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. He or she may assist such an organization in raising funds and may participate in their management and investment, but shall not personally participate in public fundraising activities. He or she may make recommendations to public and private fund-granting agencies on projects and programs concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.
The community benefits from having judges take an active part in community affairs whenever possible. Participation on the advisory board of the crime prevention program is permissible, provided that the judge gives general advice only and refrains from giving any advice specific to individual incidents which were or might become the subject of litigation. In addition, the judge should not personally participate in any crime watch program as a watcher, since the judge could then become personally involved as a witness in criminal proceedings.