Opinion: 98-76
June 19, 1998

Digest:    A full-time judge may serve as president of a local lawyers' club, even if some of its members are likely to appear before the judge.

Rule:    22 NYCRR 100.2(D); 100.4(C)(3);
            100.4(C)(3)(a)(i) and (ii)


            A full-time judge who serves on a court with county-wide jurisdiction, has been nominated for election as president of a local lawyers' club. Membership in the club consists primarily of lawyers and judges from the town, some of whom are likely to appear before the judge. The purpose of the club, among other things, is to maintain the ideals of the legal profession and to generate cordial relationships among members of the bar in that town. The judge asks if there is any rule prohibiting service as president.

                Section 100.4(C)(3) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct states:

        A judge may be a member or serve as an officer,
        director, trustee or non-legal advisor of... an
        educational, religious, charitable, cultural, fraternal,
        or civic organization not conducted for profit...
            Assuming the organization is not engaged in proceedings that ordinarily would come before the judge and will not be engaged regularly in adversarial proceedings in any court, the Committee sees no impediment prohibiting the judge from serving as president of a local lawyer's club. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(a) (i) and (ii).

            The Committee notes that the original by-laws of the organization submitted by the judge, which were promulgated in 1935, limited membership to males. Following inquiry by the Committee, the judge provided a certification from the club's secretary attesting that the by-laws had subsequently been amended, revoking the exclusionary provision. The organization has and has had female members and officers. Thus, it does not appear that section 100.2(D) of the Rules prohibiting membership in organizations that practice invidious discrimination would be violated by the judge in serving as the club's president.