January 30, 1992
Digest: A judge of a court which refers cases to a dispute resolution agency should not serve as a member of the board of such agency.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§ 100.2(a); 100.5(b).
A full-time judge asks whether the judge may continue to serve as an unpaid member of the board of a not-for-profit corporation which sponsors a dispute resolution center partially funded by the Office of Court Administration. The court in which the judge presides refers a substantial number of cases to the dispute resolution center.
Section 100.2(a) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides that every judge “shall conduct himself or herself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary.” Section 100.5(b) provides that a full-time judge “may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties.”
In previous opinions (90-12, Vol. V and 91-03, Vol VII) the Committee concluded that it would be improper for a part-time judge to serve as a mediator with an agency to which the judge could refer cases, since the judge might profit from such a reference. In the present case, the appearance of impropriety would arise, not from any direct advantage o the judge, but from the fact that the judge might, either consciously or unconsciously, display undue favoritism in referring cases to an agency with which he or she is associated. For that reason, the Committee adheres to its opinion that a judge of a court which refers cases to a dispute resolution agency should not be a member of a board of the not-for-profit corporation which operates or sponsors such dispute resolution agency.