January 28, 1999
A judge may serve as (1) a general partner in a family partnership engaged
in the investment of the financial resources of the judge and members of
the judge's family (2) a limited partner in a partnership that manages
and owns a multiple dwelling residence.
22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(2); 100.4(D)(3);
A recently-elected full-time judge inquires if it is ethically permissible to continue to own interests in two limited partnerships.
One entity is a limited partnership formed for the purposes of rehabilitating and owning a multiple dwelling residence. The judge is a passive, limited partner and does not participate in the management of the building or the partnership. The second entity is a family limited partnership. The judge is both the sole general partner and a limited partner; the judge's spouse and children comprise all the other limited partners. The purpose of the partnership is to invest family assets in the stock of publicly-owned corporations and in government securities.
The answer to the judge's inquiry is to be found in sections 100.4(D)(2),
(3) and (3)(b) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, which provide that:
(2) A judge, subject to the requirements of this Part, may hold and manage investments of the judge and members of the judge's family, including real estate.
(3) A full-time judge shall not serve as an officer, director, manager, general partner, advisor, employee or other active participant of any business entity, except that:
. . .
(b) a judge, subject to the requirements of this Part, may manage and participate in a business entity engaged in investment of the financial resources of the judge or members of the judge's family.
Thus, it is clear that the judge may continue as a limited partner in the partnership managing the multiple dwelling residence. Serving as a limited partner, (rather than as an active, general partner) in this partnership, whose sole function is to oversee an investment in real property, is authorized by the above-mentioned rules. 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(2) and (3).
In addition, the judge's service as a general partner in the family-owned
partnership, is also expressly authorized under section 100.4(D)(3)(b).
This partnership clearly is a business entity engaged solely in the investment
of the financial resources of the judge or the judge's family, as contemplated
in the Rules. Should, however, a non-family member become a partner, whether
general or limited, the judge could no longer remain a general partner.
22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(3).