Opinion: 97-56

May 8, 1997

Digest:  A full-time judge may participate in a meeting of a non-profit foundation's research program on adolescent development and juvenile justice, and receive an honorarium.

Rules:  22 NYCRR 100.3(B)(8), 100.4(B),(C)(1),(H)(1).


            A full-time judge has been asked to participate in a two-day meeting as part of a non-profit foundation's research program on adolescent development and juvenile justice. The sponsors of the program are particularly interested in the judge's work in the area of juvenile justice and its implication for research, practice and policy. There is no involvement by the group with the courts. The judge is to receive a $300 per diem honorarium and reimbursement for out-of-pocket travel expenses.

            The Committee perceives no ethical objection to the judge's participation in the program as described and the acceptance of the honorarium. Writing, lecturing and speaking on matters involving the improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice are well-recognized areas of permissible extra-judicial activities. 22 NYCRR 100.4(B), (C)(1). The judge's participation appears to fall within that category of permissible activities.

            As to the honorarium, section 100.4(H)(1) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct authorizes a judge to receive reasonable compensation for permitted extra-judicial activities "if the source of such payments does not give the appearance of influencing the judge's performance of judicial duties or otherwise give the appearance of impropriety..." Based on the facts presented, the dangers sought to be protected against by the Rule do not appear to be present.

            Finally, the judge is reminded that in the course of participating in the event, public comment may not be made "about a pending or impending proceeding in any court within the United States or its territories". 22 NYCRR 100.3(B)(8).