Opinion: 97-108

October 16, 1997

Digest:  The acceptance by a full-time judge of an appointment by a County Executive to become a member of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Commission established by the County Executive would be incompatible with judicial office.

Rule:  New York State Constitution Art. VI,
           §20; 22 NYCRR 100.1, 100.2(A).
           Opinion 96-65 (Vol. XIV).


            A full-time judge seeks advice as to whether it is permissible to accept a position as a member of a commission being established by a County Executive. The purpose of the commission is "to review and make recommendations for the future of Juvenile Justice policy" in the County. The commission is "composed of professionals in the field of juvenile justice, education, social services and concerned members of the general public."

            It is the Committee's opinion that it would be inappropriate for the judge to accept the appointment. The general functions of this commission will necessarily involve recommendations as to legislation, general social policy, funding and, possibly, law enforcement activities and polices. It is this connection with law enforcement activities and policies, which, in the view of the Committee, renders such service incompatible with judicial office. That is, the participation by a judge in the commission could be perceived as raising the issue of the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. 22 NYCRR 100.1, 100.2(A). Further, we note that there is no appropriate legislative mandate prescribing that a member of the judiciary serve on the Commission.

            Finally, we also note that the appointment is to an executive body. Article VI, §20(b)(1) of the New York State Constitution expressly provides that:

    b. A judge of the court of appeals, justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of claims, judge of a county court, judge of the surrogate's court, judge of the family court or judge of a court for the city of New York ... may not:

    (1) hold any other public office or trust except an office in relation to the administration of the courts, ...

            Although the Committee does not pass upon matters of constitutional law, it appears that the position in issue may constitute a "public office". If so, it is an office that may not be held by the inquiring full-time judge.

           See also, Opinion 96-65 (Vol. XIV).