Opinion: 98-19
March 12, 1998
Digest:    A law clerk who is a judge's personal appointee may run for judicial office and must comply with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct concerning judicial and non-judicial candidates for elective judicial office.

Rules:    22 NYCRR 100.5; 100.5(A)(1)(h) 100.5(A)(4)(a); 100.5(C)(2).


            A judge whose law clerk expresses an interest in seeking elective judicial office inquires whether the law clerk may campaign while continuing in his/her current employment and what restrictions apply to the conduct of the law clerk's campaign activities.

            The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit members of a judge's staff who are the judge's personal appointees from running for judicial office. (22 NYCRR 100.5(C)(2)). The law clerk must comply with the rules governing judicial and non-judicial candidates for judicial office (22 NYCRR 100.5), especially section 1005.5(A)(4)(a), which requires candidates for judicial office to maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office and to act in a manner consistent with the integrity and independence of the judiciary.

            As a candidate for judicial office, it is the law clerk's responsibility to familiarize himself/herself with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct dealing with the political activities of candidates, as well as with the opinions of this Committee dealing with the manner in which the law clerk, as a judicial candidate, must conduct his/her affairs. The judge, however, should be aware that as a judicial candidate, the law clerk is allowed greater latitude in areas otherwise restricted by 22 NYCRR 100.5(C). For example, the $500 limitation on political contributions does "not apply to an appointee's contributions to his or her own campaign". 22 NYCRR 100.5(C)(2). Nor would there be such a monetary restriction on the purchasing of tickets to political functions. Of course, the staff member who becomes a candidate could not contribute to any candidacy other than his or her own. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1)(h).