March 1, 1990
Digest: A judge's law clerk may serve as a member of a citizen's advisory committee on domestic violence created and confirmed by the county legislature.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§100.3(b)(2) and (5)
A full-time judge, whose law clerk seeks the judge's permission to serve on a citizen's advisory committee on domestic violence, inquires whether there is any ethical problem in giving the law clerk permission to so serve. The purpose of the advisory committee, created by the local county legislature, is to solicit advice and recommendations from the community with respect to domestic violence and to periodically report to the county legislature. The seven members of the committee are subject to confirmation by the county legislature.
Section 100.3(b)(2) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator states:
A judge shall require his or her staff and court officials subject to his or her direction and control to observe the standards of fidelity and diligence that apply to the judge.
Section 100.3(b)(5) requires that a judge prohibit members of his or her staff from engaging in various political activities, including holding an elective office in a political organization, contributing large sums to political campaigns, and soliciting funds for partisan political purposes.
Membership on a citizen's advisory committee on domestic violence is not proscribed by the rules of the Chief Administrator. On the contrary, domestic violence is an issue that is related to the legal system and the administration of justice. In serving as a member of the committee, the law clerk would not only be performing a community service, but may also be exposed to other aspects of the issue that would enhance the law secretary's abilities in court. The law clerk's participation in the committee's activities, however, should not interfere with the law clerk's regular court duties.