Opinion: 97-132

November 13, 1997

Digest:  Under the circumstances presented, a judge may not lecture at a law school about a case over which the judge recently presided and in which there is likely to be an appeal.

Rules:  22 NYCRR 100.3(B)(8);
            Opinion 92-05 (Vol. X).


            The inquiring judge informs the Committee that he/she recently completed a trial that resulted in a jury verdict of murder in the second degree. A law school professor, who also represents the family of the victim.

...had created a law school course of the trial. He has discussed with me the possibility of my lecturing the --- Law School after sentencing. Since there is the probability of an appeal in this case, I am requesting an opinion from the Committee as to whether it would be appropriate for me to lecture at a law school.

            A full-time judge may, of course, lecture on the law and may also serve as a faculty member teaching a regular course of study at a law school or college. Opinion 92-05 (Vol. X). In teaching such a course, it may be inevitable, for pedagogical purposes, that some comment might have to be made concerning a pending case. That situation, however, is far different from what is presented in the inquiry before the Committee. The inquirer is not the teacher of a regular course at the law school. Rather, the inquirer is the judge in the very case upon which the lecture and the course are predicated. Further, the instructor, under whose auspices the judge will be appearing, has a professional interest as a private practitioner in the case, and is not a disinterested sponsor of the judge's appearance.

            Under such circumstances, it would be inappropriate for the judge to lecture on the matter. Section 100.3(B)(8) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct states that "A judge shall not make any public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court within the United States or its territories." As indicated by the judge, an appeal in this proceeding is likely. The proceeding, therefore, is still pending and any comments by the judge before a law school audience at this point must be regarded as impermissible public comment. For all the reasons expressed herein the judge should not lecture on the case at the law school.