March 11, 1999
Please Note: Since Republican Party of Minnesota v White, 536 US 765 (2002), the Committee has issued more recent guidance on responding to questionnaires and participating in endorsement interviews. Please review Opinions 15-71, 17-28, and 18-95 and consult the full Advisory Committee or the Judicial Campaign Ethics Center for further guidance as needed.
Digest: A part-time judge who is a candidate for County Court, should not respond to a questionnaire from an organization dedicated to preserving an individual's right to bear arms, which asks detailed questions about the judge's views regarding possession and use of firearms.
Rule: 100.5(A)(4)(d) (I) and (ii).
A part-time judge who intends to become a candidate for County Court Judge inquires whether it is proper to respond to a questionnaire from a state-wide organization dedicated to preserving an individual's right to bear arms, which asks detailed questions about the judge's views regarding possession and use of firearms. The organization will use the candidate's responses to determine the level of political support that they will offer the candidate. The questionnaire contains 25 specific questions concerning the judge's views on issues affecting gun control, the use of firearms as well as the judge's views on firearm licensing procedures.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a candidate for judicial office from making pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of office or from making statements that commit or appear to commit the candidate with respect to cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the court. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(4)(d)(I) and (ii).
Based on the materials submitted, it appears that the questionnaire contains requests for positions on issues which may regularly come before the inquiring judge should the judge be successful in the election. Therefore, the judge as a candidate for judicial office, should not respond to this questionnaire.