Joint Opinion

May 11, 1999

Digest: A judge may participate in an initiative opposing ethnic or cultural and stereotyping in the media, but on the facts presented, the judge's judicial status should not be associated with any public expression of protest.

Rule:  22 NYCRR 100.2(D).


            A local legislator has contacted various community leaders and public officials including judges, inviting their participation in an effort to voice strong opposition to media portrayals of Italian-American in a negative, stereotypical manner. In particular, opposition is to be voiced concerning a television series which purportedly engages in such stereotyping.

            The two judges ask if they may join in this initiative. Although membership in a permanent or on-going organization is not what is contemplated, the Committee notes that the principle that membership in organizations dedicated to the preservation of religious, ethnic, or cultural values is a permissible extra-judicial activity appears applicable to an expression of concern over alleged ethnic or cultural stereotyping (See 22 NYCRR 100.4[D]). Accordingly, it is our view that the judges may be associated with the proposed initiative. However, since this particular matter may involve possible public controversy, we believe the judges' participation should not include any reference to their judicial status.