January 28, 1993
Digest: A part-time village judge may not serve as chairperson or member of the village planning board.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§ 100.2, 100.5(b)(1), 100.5(h).
An Acting Village judge, who prior to appointment as judge served as chairperson of the village planning board, inquires whether he or she may continue serving as chairperson. For purposes of this opinion, it is presumed that all zoning and planning board cases are brought before the village court, and that the zoning and planning functions are closely related.
Section 100.2 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides that a judge must promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety. The Executive Committee of the New York State Magistrates association has opined that there would be a conflict of interest were the judge to preside over zoning violation prosecutions and also sit on a zoning or planning board.
This Committee’s Opinion 89-82 has already answered this question in the negative and has set forth its reasons. The inquirer is referred to that opinion, which the Committee reaffirms.
An Acting Village judge may not continue to serve as chairperson of the village planning board.