June 16, 1994
Digest: A full-time city court judge may serve on the board of trustees of a local community college outside New York City provided that the judge recuses himself or herself in any litigation affecting the college.
Rules: New York State Constitution, Article VI, §20(b)(1); 22 NYCRR 100.5(g); Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 5(G); Opinion 90-32, Vol. V
A full-time city court judge, sitting outside of the City of New York, inquires whether the judge, if offered a position, may serve as a member of the local community college board of trustees.
The Committee notes that, significantly, the prohibition in the New York State Constitution, Article 6, section 20(b)(1), against judges holding “any other public office or trust except an office in relation to the administration of the courts . ...”, does not apply to judges, whether full-time or part-time, of city courts outside the City of New York, since it applies only to judges and justices of courts specified in that provision.
The Committee does not address any legal questions, but confines its response solely to whether the Rules of the Chief Administrator or the Code of Judicial Conduct bar the activity in question. Section 100.5(g) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides in part:
A judge . . . may represent his or her country, state or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical, educational and cultural activities. [Emphasis supplied.]
The Committee believes that this service by the judge is expressly permitted under the above-quoted language.
The Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts do not prohibit the judge's serving as a trustee for the community college, provided that the judge recuse himself or herself in any litigation affecting the college, and that such disqualifications are not so frequent as to interfere with the performance of judicial duties.
This Committee in Opinion 90-32, Vol. V, has heretofore ruled on the proposition submitted herein by the inquiring judge. A copy of that opinion is attached.