Opinion: 97-57

May 8, 1997

Digest:  A judge may remain a member of a non-partisan group which meets periodically to hear educational presentations on topics of public interest and which takes no position on such issues.

Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(A)(1)(2); 100.5(A).


            Prior to becoming a Supreme Court Justice, and while serving as a District Attorney, the inquiring judge was a member of a local group which "meets periodically to hear educational presentations concerning topics of public interest. The group takes no position on such issues and includes members with diverse political affiliations." It is chaired by a State Senator and is non-partisan. The judge asks whether continued membership is ethically permissible.

            Since the group, which appears to be entirely educational, is not a political organization or affiliated with a political organization, and does not espouse any position on matters of public controversy, the Committee does not believes there is any ethical objection to the judge's continued membership. Membership in the group as presently constituted, does not constitute prohibited political activity under section 100.5(A) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. Nor is it likely that continued membership would "cast reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially as a judge" (22 NYCRR 100.4(A)[1]) or "interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties [or be] incompatible with judicial office." 22 NYCRR 100.4(A)(2).