September 24, 1992
NOTE: Former section 25.39(e) has been superseded by 22 NYCRR 50.5(e). For guidance on Part 50 (formerly Part 25), court personnel may consult the Office of Court Administration’s Nonjudicial Ethics Helpline (888-283-8442). Regarding the applicability of Part 50 to town and village justice courts, please see footnote 1 in Opinion 10-116.
Digest: A court clerk, who is the spouse of a part-time judge, may not serve as the chairperson of a political party.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 25.39(e).
A judge asks whether a court clerk, who is the spouse of a part-time judge, may serve as the political party chairperson for that town.
As the judge's spouse is an employee of the Unified Court System, the spouse is subject to section 25.39(e) of the Rules of the Chief Judge, which provides as follows:
No employee of the unified court system may hold an elective office in a political party, or a club or organization related to a political party, except that an employee may be a delegate to a judicial nominating convention or a member of a county committee other than the executive committee of a county committee.
While a court employee may engage in various political activities outside of the courthouse and not on court time (see, i.e., Opinions No. 91-10 and 92-56), the above rule prohibits a court employee from holding an elective office in a political party or organization. Accordingly, the court clerk may not serve as chair of the local political party.