Opinion 97-70

June 13, 1997

Digest:  A full-time City Court Judge may not serve as an officer or board member of a Legal Services for the Elderly organization.

Rule:  22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(a)(i),(ii);
           Opinion 88-130 (Vol. III).


            A full-time City Court Judge inquires whether the judge can serve as an officer or board member of a Legal Services for the Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged organization. In connection with the inquiry, the judge attaches a letter from the organization which indicates that it provides legal services in the judge's court in defending low income, elderly landlords in owner-occupied one and two-family homes who have been charged with Housing Code violations and in representing elderly tenants and low-income elderly landlords in eviction cases. The letter further states that, in the past, if a sitting judge was a board member of the organization, such advice was imparted to the litigants with an offer of recusal.

            This Committee has previously issued an opinion which advised that a judge should refrain from serving as a director of a legal services bureau which represents clients in the judge's court. Opinion 88-130 (Vol. III). That opinion cautioned against activity which is in violation of former section 100.5(b)(1) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, now set forth in section 100.4(C)(3)(a)(i) and (ii) which states:

    a. A judge shall not serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor if it is likely that the organization

    (i). will be engaged in proceedings that ordinarily would come before the judge, or

    (ii). if the judge is a full-time judge, will be engaged regularly in adversary proceedings in any court.

            In the opinion of the Committee this provision applies and therefore the judge should refrain from acting as an officer or director of the organization about which the judge inquires.