New York Courts dot gov
New York StateUnified Court System

Recently Broadcast Opinions

The Committee's published opinions are searchable online and on Westlaw. In addition, many opinions are sent to the Buffalo Law Journal, the Magistrate, the New York Daily Record, and/or the New York Law Journal.

The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics recently issued the following opinions, which are linked below.

  • Opinions are not in strict numerical order; they are grouped by the date of distribution.
  • To search for a word or opinion number on this page, use your web browser's search function (e.g., Ctrl+F).
  • For a list of earlier broadcast opinions, please visit the Broadcast Opinions Archive.

The Committee does not accept inquiries by e-mail. If you have a question about judicial ethics, please call the Committee at 1-866-79-JUDGE [58343] for assistance.


October 28, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-08 Where a judge is (or recently has been) a party in a contested matrimonial action, and his/her spouse (or ex-spouse) is a private attorney, what are the judge's obligations (1) when the spouse’s law firm colleagues appear before the judge on other matters; (2) when the judge’s attorney or the spouse’s attorney appears; and (3) when an expert who evaluated a marital asset appears?

Opinion 15-12 May a judge accept free tickets and parking vouchers for a game of his/her choice from a local sports team that has not recently appeared before the judge and is not likely to do so?

Opinion 15-33 (1) What are a judge's obligations when the judge’s spouse’s former law firm appears before the judge, on matters in which the judge's spouse had no involvement, while the law firm maintains a fee interest in eight other cases handled by the judge's spouse? (2) What are a judge's obligations when attorneys to whom the judge’s spouse has referred occasional, discrete cases, or from whom the judge’s spouse has received such cases, appear in the judge’s court?

Opinion 15-34 May a judge approve a plea agreement which requires a defendant to participate in a district attorney’s traffic ticket diversion program, when the program involves a non-refundable application fee?

Opinion 15-52 May a judge preside in a case where a clerical court employee, not the judge’s personal appointee, had previously provided freelance transcription services to a private attorney?

Opinion 15-137 Must a judge disclose or disqualify him/herself from cases in which his/her co-judge's spouse has served (or may serve) as a social worker for a defendant on referral by the probation department?

Opinion 15-141 May a full-time judge co-author a treatise on a specialized area of law and accept royalties from the sales of the book?

Opinion 15-149 May a full-time judge (1) serve as a paid, part-time adjunct professor at a private law school; (2) serve on the board of a private, not-for-profit school that the judge's child attends; (3) serve on the school's audit committee; (4) serve on the school's academic affairs committee; (5) serve on the board of directors of the judge's condominium; and/or (6) serve on a bar association committee?

Opinion 15-152 May a judge accept a plea conditioned on a defendant writing an essay about traffic safety?

Opinion 15-155 May a judge preside in a matter where the judge and his/her spouse own a de minimis interest in a large corporation that is a party in the matter?

Opinion 15-159 May a town justice consent to the appointment of his/her first-degree relative as town court clerk and permit his/her relative to continue full-time clerical employment with a private law firm that appears in the court twice a year?

Opinion 15-162 May a law clerk who serves as a SCAR Hearing Officer (1) write and publish a children’s book with a commercial publisher public and accept royalties and/or (2) personally market and sell the book?

Opinion 15-168 May a judge preside when an attorney who served as a reference for the judge's judicial appointment appears before the judge more than two years after the appointment?

Opinion 15-170 May a judge permit his/her Chief Clerk to serve on an advisory committee charged with helping develop a mediation program for the judge's court in order to represent the court’s interests?

back to top


September 28, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-15 May a full-time judge serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit local development corporation?

Opinion 15-16 May a village justice preside when village police officers appear in the village court?

Opinion 15-19 What are the obligations of a full-time judge who learns that his/her former law firm is still using the judge's name in its signage, letterhead, or other materials?

Opinion 15-20 May a town justice accept concurrent employment as a County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator?

Opinion 15-21 What are a judge's obligations when he/she learns that the county executive proposes to state truthfully, during an upcoming state of the county address, that the judge is a satisfied user of a county-run public transportation system?

Opinion 15-23 May a judge who teaches at a law school, but has no role in a pro bono clinical program organized as a separate legal entity from the law school, appoint the clinic and its qualified participants to fiduciary positions, and award fees as permitted by applicable rules and law?

Opinion 15-25 May a Family Court judge permit his/her court attorney to serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit organization which provides certain services to low-income residents in the region?

Opinion 15-30 May a judge affirmatively assist a newspaper in improving the accuracy of its reporting by regularly supplying factual information to the newspaper about cases in the judge’s court

Opinion 15-32 May a judge who is a resident shareholder and proprietary lessee in a cooperative housing corporation preside over tax certiorari cases brought by the law firm that represents the judge’s own building or housing corporation, on behalf of other clients?

Joint Opinion 15-35/15-75  (1) May a judge whose first-degree relative was killed by a driver who was charged with driving under the influence preside over cases involving persons charged with driving under the influence? (2) May a judge who was previously a victim of domestic violence preside over cases involving domestic violence allegations?

Opinion 15-39  May a judge preside in criminal matters involving domestic violence charges, if the judge knows that the probation department is likely to refer defendants who are convicted of crimes involving domestic violence charges to a program run by the judge’s social worker spouse?

Opinion 15-42 May a judge and his/her family share their experience with a not-for-profit religious organization’s summer camp with other families who are considering sending their children to the camp, at the request of the organization?

Opinion 15-43 What are a judge's obligations when a case that comes before the judge is one that the judge's law clerk had been personally involved in during the law clerk's former employment in a government law office? What are the judge's obligations with respect to other cases that were pending in that government law office during the law clerk's former employment, where the law clerk was in a non-supervisory role and had no personal involvement in the case.

Opinion 15-46 Where a judge's real estate purchase contract recently terminated by its terms without a resulting sale, may the judge preside in search warrant applications in which the prospective seller appears?

Opinion 15-47 May a judge require, as a condition of joining a treatment court program, that the defendant must agree to participate in an exercise program? If so, may the judge thereafter attend or participate in the exercise program together with treatment court participants?

Opinion 15-48 May a magistrates’ association publicly support a resolution urging a legislative change to assist local taxpayers in funding their local justice courts?

Opinion 15-57 May a judge accept an invitation to attend and participate in an out-of-state conference on women and justice that is co-sponsored by a law school, a limited liability company, and a law firm? If so, may the judge accept the law school’s offer to pay for the judge's accommodations?

Opinion 15-60 Once a judge has taken appropriate and effective remedial steps to mitigate his/her alma mater’s use of the judge’s name on invitations to the school’s fund-raiser, may the judge attend the event as an ordinary attendee?

Opinion 15-63 May a judge who was “of counsel” to a law firm five years ago and its tenant a decade ago a partner of that firm to a Part 36 fiduciary appointment?

Opinion 15-65 What are a judge's obligations on learning that a letter he/she wrote decades ago in his/her former capacity as a non-judicial official is being anonymously circulated for partisan political purposes?

Opinion 15-68 May a judicial hearing officer participate in a bar association’s pro bono help desk at a court from which he/she accepts judicial hearing officer assignments?

Opinion 15-69 What are the disqualification obligations of a court attorney referee who did not personally report an attorney's misconduct to the grievance committee but instead advised the referring judge of his/her concerns so that the referring judge could make the report?

Opinion 15-71 May a judicial candidate participate in a pro-choice or pro-life advocacy organization’s interview process, answer questions during the interview, and, if offered, accept the organization’s endorsement?

Opinion 15-85 May a judge sua sponte review a defendant’s driving history before accepting or rejecting a proposed plea agreement? If so, must the judge disclose the contents of the driving history to the parties and counsel?

Opinion 15-92(A) May a judge serve as an officer of his/her religious institution, preach sermons, make administrative announcements, and allow his/her sermons to be broadcast via live streaming on the internet?

Opinion 15-92(B) May a judge write and forward a consular letter of invitation inviting family members to visit the judge in the United States, where this letter will set forth facts concerning the judge's income and its source in order to demonstrate that the judge is a responsible person who is able to meet the material and accommodation needs of the persons invited? If so, may the judge use judicial stationery for such a letter?

Opinion 15-107/15-110 Is disclosure or disqualification required in a criminal case if a co-judge's spouse has served, or may serve, as a social worker for the defendant on referral by the probation department?

Opinion 15-114 May a judge preside over a case involving the law firm of an attorney who represented the judge at a negotiation session in the judge's matrimonial matter, where the attorney now appearing before judge was completely insulated from any involvement in the judge's matrimonial matter? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 15-121 May a judicial candidate permit his/her campaign committee to establish Facebook connections with the campaign committees of other candidates on the same slate?

back to top


August 4, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 14-93 (1) May a judge be honored as a distinguished alumnus/alumna at a college’s fund-raising event, where the judge’s participation is not advertised prior to the event and the judge’s name is not listed in advance on invitations or announcements? (2) May the judge permit the college to include information about the judge in a journal that will be distributed to guests during the event? (3) May the judge participate in the college’s recruitment efforts by participating in a video recording in which the judge will discuss his/her memories of the college and its impact on his/her career and provide a message to this year’s graduates? (4) May the judge permit the college to play the video recording during the gala fund-raising event and thereafter post it on the college’s website?

Opinion 14-95 May a judge attend an event sponsored by a not-for-profit political organization? May a judge make donations, attend meetings, become a member, hold a leadership position, or participate in the organization in other ways?

Opinion 14-111 May a town justice whose spouse is a village trustee preside over arraignments for the village court when the village justice and acting village justice are unavailable?

Opinion 14-112 May a judge participate in a culturally mandated celebration and burial ceremony in honor of the judge’s deceased parent, which will take place in another country, in which, as part of the ceremony, family, friends and other well-wishers will shower the judge and his/her siblings with local currency?

Opinion 14-127 May a judge conduct a book drive or solicit publishers or book sellers to donate books for use as a sentencing tool in certain cases?

Opinion 14-135 May a judge engage in certain extra-judicial activities in support of the passage of a bond to fund a City project to upgrade the local court facility where the judge presides?

Opinion 14-153 May a judge permit a bar association to place collection bins for a charitable clothing drive within the courtroom?

Opinion 14-154 May a judge comply with a district attorney’s request for a list of "all pending offenses, regardless of the level, including traffic infractions"?

Opinion 14-157 May a part-time judge who provides advice to certain municipal attorneys on municipal issues in the judge’s capacity as counsel to a nongovernmental association, but who has no attorney/client relationship with such attorneys, preside in unrelated cases when such attorneys appear on behalf of private clients?

Opinion 14-166 May a judge preside over an arraignment in which his/her first-degree relative by blood or marriage was the arresting officer?  May a judge issue a search warrant where his/her first-degree relative by blood or marriage signed the supporting affidavit?

Opinion 14-177 May a full-time judge accept part-time employment as treasurer of the board of directors of a special district library financed by the local municipality?

Opinion 14-182 May a judge permit a newly elected state official to use a ceremonial courtroom for the state official's swearing-in ceremony?

Opinion 14-186 May a judge whose second-degree relative is the municipality’s deputy dog control officer preside in dog ticket cases?

Opinion 15-03 May a judge chair a committee which informs members of a religious congregation of their membership fees?

Opinion 15-07 May a town judge voluntarily undertake to clear snow from the driveway of an abandoned property near his/her home as a public service?

Opinion 15-26/15-44 May a judge attend (1) an annual fund-raising event for a not-for profit organization that provides services and support to victims of domestic abuse and child abuse and/or (2) a non-fund-raising breakfast organized by a consortium of domestic violence agencies to promote discussion of current issues related to domestic violence, including recent and pending domestic violence legislation?

Opinion 15-62 What are a judge's obligations when the judge's spouse, who is a principal in a real estate LLC, wishes to rent a storefront to a partisan political organization?

Opinion 15-87 May a judge preside in cases involving the District Attorney’s office, when a co-judge’s spouse is employed as an Assistant District Attorney?

back to top


July 28, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 14-04 May a judge who was previously employed at a local high school in a small community preside in matters in which former students or their family members appear?

Opinion 14-142 May a judge serve as a hearing officer for the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics?

Opinion 14-171 May a criminal court judge preside when the court clerk’s second-degree relative appears as an assistant public defender?

Opinion 15-06 May a town or village justice whose first-degree relative is a social worker in the local probation department’s domestic violence division preside in cases involving the probation department and/or allegations of domestic violence?

Opinion 15-40 May a judge whose spouse is the director of the regional chamber of commerce preside when an entity before the judge is a member of the chamber of commerce?

Opinion 15-90 May a judge accept an invitation to attend a bar association’s annual dinner as the guest of a law firm, where the cost of the dinner is approximately $500?

Opinion 15-96 May a judge receive, as part of an equitable distribution, a percentage of the future legal fees earned by his/her former spouse upon the settlement or verdict of any cases deemed part of the former spouse's law practice?  If so, what are the judge’s obligations when adverse counsel from those cases appear before the judge on unrelated matters?

Opinion 15-98 May a magistrates’ association send a letter expressing its position on legislation addressing a perceived disparity in the distribution of monies collected by New York's town and village courts, which affects the operation of such courts?

Opinion 15-106 Must a judge disclose that he/she engaged in a brief and non-substantive conversation with an attorney at a bar association function, while the attorney had a case pending before the judge? 

Opinion 15-108 May a judge preside when his/her co-judge’s child, or a law firm with which the co-judge’s child is affiliated as special counsel, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-109 May a part-time judge who is also employed full-time with a university engage in fund-raising from alumni, parents and friends of the university if such individuals reside outside New York State? 

Opinion 15-116 May a part-time town justice accept appointment as the town’s tax collector?

Opinion 15-118 May a full-time judge accept an invitation to become a member of a not-for-profit organization which has as its primary purpose the promotion of the culture of a particular religion as well as certain charitable works?

Opinion 15-123 May a part-time judge become a member of a governmental advisory committee on services for senior citizens?

Opinion 15-136 May a judge permit a student to make an audiovisual recording of a court proceeding?

back to top


June 26, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-14 What steps must an appellate judge take once the judge learns that his/her law clerk is seeking post-clerkship employment?

Opinion 15-18 May a judge preside in cases involving protestors, arrested on the same charges as the judge's second-degree relatives, where the judge's relatives are not parties and are unlikely to be material witnesses?

Opinion 15-56 May a judge post the procedure for resolving a traffic ticket on the Unified Court System's website?

Opinion 15-64 May a judge permit two defense attorneys who regularly appear before him/her to include the judge’s name as a reference on an application nominating the judge’s court attorney for an award from a legal publication?

Opinion 15-67 May a judge who is a former prosecutor preside in a case involving a formerly incarcerated individual's claim of actual innocence, under the totality of the circumstances presented?

Opinion 15-70 What is a judge’s ethical obligation when he/she learns that another judge appeared in his/her court and attempted to influence the outcome of a relative’s case?

Opinion 15-76 May a judge participate in a bar association CLE program entitled "Social Media Ethics Guidelines for Attorneys" when the panel includes law partners from various law firms?

Opinion 15-81 May a judge accept a bar association's gift of complimentary admission to an upcoming law-related conference for the judge and a guest, along with food and lodging expenses, where the total value of the gift is approximately $1500?

Opinion 15-88 May a judge preside when an attorney appearing in the judge’s court is also representing the judge’s child in an unrelated, contested matrimonial action?

Opinion 15-91 May a judge serve as a clothing model at a not-for-profit fund-raising luncheon/fashion show which includes raffles and a silent auction?

Opinion 15-95 What is a judge’s ethical obligation when the judge’s insurance company, which recently represented the interests of the judge or the judge’s first degree relative in two civil actions, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-97 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to accept reimbursement for the cost of lodging for two nights in connection with performing an out-of-town wedding for a good friend?

back to top


June 24, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 14-138 May a judicial association that is hosting an event to celebrate the life and work of a now deceased judge permit a not-for-profit civil rights law firm which formerly employed the honoree to co-sponsor or underwrite the event?

Opinion 14-180 May a judge who regularly refers litigants to a residential substance abuse treatment facility write a letter supporting the facility's application to become a participating service provider for insurance purposes?

Opinion 14-183 May a judge fluent in a foreign language serve as an uncompensated interpreter for a friend during a business meeting?

Opinion 14-195 May a part-time judge City Court Judge continue to practice law while serving temporarily as a full-time City Court Judge?

Opinion 14-196 May a judge who presides in medical malpractice cases accept a private, "in-house" speaking engagement for the board of trustees of a medical facility that regularly appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-01 May a non-judge who is seeking election or appointment to judicial office remain employed as a police officer until he/she takes and files his/her oath of office as a judge??

Opinion 15-02 May a judge preside in DWI cases involving blood drawn at a hospital where, in the judge's capacity as a physician, he/she is responsible for regulatory compliance with the hospital's emergency department phlebotomy services?

Opinion 15-04 Is an incumbent judge's public announcement that he/she will retire from the bench on a specific date, when coupled with an additional significant and reliable affirmative step to effectuate his/her retirement, sufficient to create a known judicial vacancy for the purpose of determining when the window period opens and individuals may publicly announce their interest in seeking election to the position?

Opinion 15-05 Must a judge disclose that his/her spouse is the administrative assistant to a councilperson, and in that capacity schedules appointments for the councilperson's constituents with a pro bono attorney, when a litigant who was assisted by the councilperson's pro bono attorney appears before the judge?

back to top


June 15, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 14-159 May a judge use his/her official court mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address to conduct bar association business?

Opinion 14-169 May a judge preside in matters involving the law firm that employs the spouse and first-degree relative of a principal court attorney who works exclusively for the judge?

Opinion 14-175 May town or village justices, either individually or as magistrates' association members, participate in the design or implementation of a county-wide traffic diversion program?

Opinion 14-176 May a part-time justice also be employed as Head Automotive Mechanic for the County Department of Public Works?

Opinion 14-179 Is it ethically permissible for a part-time judge to accept employment as counsel with a local labor union while continuing to preside as a part-time judge?

Opinion 14-188 May a part-time judge who is represented by a union in his/her full-time extra-judicial employment preside in a small claims proceeding involving another local of the same union?

Opinion 14-189 May a judge who has issued a written decision indicating the his/her impartiality has been compromised in a new case involving a particular litigant, continue to preside in other cases involving the litigant?

Opinion 14-194 May a part-time judge preside when the attorney with whom the judge shares office space appears in the judge's court?

back to top


June 10, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 14-97 May a judge who is a retired law enforcement officer join a national not-for-profit fraternal organization for retired and active law enforcement officers to take advantage of discounted medical and life insurance and retirement benefits for which the judge is eligible due to his/her former employment?

Opinion 14-130 What if any action must a judge take when a political candidate's fund-raising publication uses a photograph that includes the judge's image?

Opinion 14-137 May a judge delegate to a court clerk the function of researching whether a litigant's address is located within a particular geographic boundary?

Opinion 14-139 May a judge publicly express his/her views on how certain proposed transit changes will affect indigent court users and their ability to comply with court-ordered training, treatment, and probation?

Opinion 14-141 May a judge who is currently a defendant in a criminal case involving domestic violence charges preside over other domestic violence cases?

Opinion 14-144 Where a judge (a) concludes that a prosecutor's proposed plea bargain in a case before the judge contradicts the People's prior statement on the record in another pending criminal case where the judge was the alleged victim, and (b) believes that non-disclosure of the apparent contradiction may constitute a fraud on the court and/or Brady/Giglio violations in the other criminal case, is the judge required to disclose the contradiction to the judge and lawyers in the other criminal case? Is the judge required to disqualify him/herself from all cases involving the individual at issue?

Opinion 14-146 May a candidate for judicial office permit his/her campaign committee to solicit or accept items for donation to a local charity?

Opinion 14-148 May a judge whose window period for his/her unsuccessful 2014 Supreme Court campaign will overlap with the window period for his/her upcoming 2015 Supreme Court campaign roll over funds from one campaign to the next?

Opinion 14-149 May a judge allow his/her real property to be used for a festive seasonal ceremony?

Opinion 14-150 May a judge who reported an attorney to a grievance committee sign a proposed order the attorney submitted in an unrelated matter?

back to top


May 20, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-09 May a part-time City Court judge concurrently serve in the non-supervisory position of full-time deputy county attorney?

Opinion 15-17 May a judge play in a band, which usually performs without pay, at charitable events, block parties and parties for friends?

Opinion 15-22 What action, if any, is a judge required to take when the judge believes an attorney who is running for judicial office made an improper political contribution in violation of 22 NYCRR 100.5?

Opinion 15-24 May a judge agree to be profiled in a local, bimonthly publication and featured on its cover where the resulting article would address the judge's legal career, current judicial position, personal life and possibly prior public service?

Opinion 15-37 May a judge who has been publicly disciplined as a result of complaints made by the local prosecutor's office and the local public defender's office preside in matters in which attorneys from these offices appear?

Opinion 15-38 What is a judge's ethical obligation when the judge's former law firm associate, who is now an assistant district attorney, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-41 May a judge preside when his/her co-judge's child appears before the judge as an attorney?

Opinion 15-53 Is a judge disqualified from presiding in a civil action after testifying in a separate criminal proceeding, pursuant to a subpoena, about the orders and directives he/she issued in the civil action?

Opinion 15-54 Is a judge obligated to report two prosecutors to an attorney grievance committee based on what the judge believes to be professional misconduct?

Opinion 15-55 Is disclosure required when an attorney appearing before the judge supported the judge's judicial candidacy at a judicial nominating convention nearly a decade ago?

back to top


April 7, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 11-67 May a judge attend a local Police Benevolent Association annual awards dinner and tribute to fallen officers?

Opinion 14-89 May a judge form a general partnership with his/her first cousins that will operate as an investment club?

Opinion 14-91 May a judge preside in matters involving a local prosecutor when the judge and the prosecutor maintain office space in the same building?

Opinion 14-100 May a Surrogate participate in ongoing meetings with the local public administrator and court personnel in order to more closely monitor the performance of the public administrator's office?

Opinion 14-120 May a village justice preside in a criminal case where the defendant and the alleged victim are attorneys who practice in the village court, and the prosecutor is the town attorney for a neighboring town?

Opinion 14-121 May a judge who chose to recuse him/herself in one case after a litigant filed a complaint about the judge preside over other cases in which that litigant appears?

Opinion 14-131 (1) May a judge who has received an unsolicited inquiry from a law firm's recruitment director concerning post-judicial employment, but does not wish to explore the possibility of employment with the firm, continue to preside over the firm's cases? (2) Must the judge report this conduct to a disciplinary authority?

Opinion 14-151 May a judge serve as a reference for an individual who has recently appeared before the judge as a defendant/participant in a treatment-oriented problem-solving court?

Opinion 14-152 May a judge decline to approve plea bargains that would require defendants to contribute money in an amount set by a district attorney to programs the district attorney chooses?

Opinion 14-193 May a quasi-judicial official who is being ordained as a local religious leader permit the religious institution to hold a non-fund-raising event in his/her honor, attend the event, and accept congratulatory proclamations and resolutions from executive and legislative officials?

back to top


March 26, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 14-77 May a judge who frequently presides in criminal cases volunteer for a not-for-profit organization devoted to honoring fallen police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel, where the judge's proposed volunteer work will relate only to firefighters and medical personnel, and not to police officers?

Opinion 14-86 Is reporting mandatory when a judge, in the course of presiding over a criminal case, learns that the same individual who signed the underlying criminal complaint later presided over the arraignment and signed a securing order in his/her judicial capacity?

Opinion 14-117 May a judge make financial contributions to certain categories of not-for-profit organizations, such as (a) Common Ground Community, Community Solutions, Heifer International, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and GMHC; (b) Highlander Research and Education Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the NAACP; and/or (c) MoveOn.Org and Emily's List?

Opinion 14-119 May a judge use official court stationery for correspondence in the judge's pro se proceeding to expunge a frivolous multi-million dollar lien which a litigant appearing before the judge filed against the judge's property?

Opinion 14-130 Does a judge have an affirmative duty to object when a candidate for non-judicial office includes the judge’s photograph in a fund-raising publication, accompanied by a caption stating that the candidate "helped select these judges who reflect the diversity" of a particular locality?

Joint Opinion 14-133/14-134 May a candidate for Supreme Court who is under consideration for a major political party’s nomination contribute proportionally to the cost of a pre-primary mailing asking minor party voters to vote for a slate of minor party judicial nominating convention delegates who have pledged to support the candidate if he/she ultimately earns a place on the major party’s ballot line?

Opinion 14-170 May a judge agree to be honored by a local chamber of commerce for service as a civic leader during the Chamber's annual fundraising dinner?

Opinion 14-172 May a judge preside in cases involving the municipality where the judge presides, and specifically, in building and zoning violations when the judge served as the municipal attorney immediately prior to assuming the bench, and prosecuted building and zoning violations?

Opinion 14-187 Must a Surrogate who entered into a contract to purchase real property in good faith, but thereafter learned the property was part of a decedent's estate, disqualify him/herself from the estate proceeding and/or repudiate the contract?

Opinion 14-192 May a supervising judge who handles a trial assignment part, but is disqualified from personally presiding in cases where certain attorneys appear, assign those cases to another judge for disposition?

back to top


March 4, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 14-54 May a judge be honored at his/her law school's Alumni Association Golf Outing which is held to raise money for the law school's scholarship fund?

Opinion 14-85 (1) May a judge provide a testimonial for the judge's former campaign manager to use in advertisements? (2) May a judge who serves as a director of a not-for-profit organization allow the judge's name to be listed with the names of other directors on the organization's fund-raising brochure? With the names of other donors?

Opinion 14-103 (1) Is a judge required to take any action in discharge of his/her disciplinary responsibilities, where the judge's sole source of knowledge of wrongdoing on the part of an attorney is the fact that the attorney has agreed to an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal of certain charges against the attorney? (2) May a judge attest to and affirm facts within his/her personal knowledge and observation, including the judge's recollection of witnessing the execution of a family member's testamentary instrument, and the judge's recognition of certain signatures or handwriting on the instrument?

Opinion 14-104 May a judge who is also employed as an adjunct law school professor and co-director of a law school program participate in a promotional video that will be displayed on the program's website?

Opinion 14-107 May a full-time city court judge who presides outside the City of New York become a notary public?

Opinion 14-136 May a part-time judge accept employment as a staff attorney with Legal Aid in the same county where the judge presides?

Opinion 14-165 May a judge publish an article about ongoing litigation involving discovery sought from a social media company?

Opinion 14-168 May a judge preside in two family court matters involving the same parties?

Opinion 14-174 May a judge preside in a foreclosure case where the law firm representing the bank employs the Principal Law Clerk's fourth degree relative who is not involved in the case?

back to top


February 25, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-10 May a judge preside in cases involving a local county agency where the judge was previously employed as a supervising attorney?

Opinion 14-51 (1) May a judge preside after entry of judgment in the trial phase of a judge's relative's criminal proceedings when a prosecutor or defender who was personally involved at the trial phase appears before the judge on unrelated matters?  (2) May a judge preside when an attorney who is personally involved in handling the judge's relative's criminal appeal appears in the judge’s court? (3) Must a judge disclose or disqualify when the assistant public defender who was initially appointed to represent the judge's relative on appeal appears?

Opinion 14-60 (1) May a judge whose first-degree relative has been arraigned on criminal charges preside when a prosecutor who is personally involved in the criminal case appears before the judge?  (2) Must a judge disclose or recuse when other prosecutors from the same office appear before the judge?

Opinion 14-78 Is remittal of disqualification available when a party is legally in default?

Opinion 14-82 May a part-time judge may join a law firm, even though two of the judge’s prospective partners or associates also practice law part-time with a second law firm that provides indigent defense services in the same county where the judge presides?

Opinion 14-84 May a town justice preside in cases involving a store owned by a town board member who participates in setting the judge’s salary and the court’s budget?

Opinion 14-88 Is a judge required to report an attorney to the grievance committee after the attorney appearing before the judge pro se testifies under oath that he/she used a fictitious bank account to shield his/her law firm income from court-ordered child support payments?

Opinion 14-102 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who was initially appointed as Attorney for the Child in the judge's relative's custody proceeding, where the attorney's involvement in the judge's relative's case was brief and preliminary in nature?

Opinion 14-126 May a judge whose formal complaint against another judge resulted in public discipline more than two years ago preside when the disciplined judge appears as an attorney in the judge’s court?

Opinion 14-129(A) May a Judicial Hearing Officer serve as a hearing officer for the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics?

back to top


February 17, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 13-132 (1) May or must a judge advise the District Attorney that the judge's sibling, grandparent, or grandchild is currently a defendant in a criminal case? (2) What are a judge's obligations when a private attorney who appears before the judge is currently representing (or has recently represented) the judge’s sibling, grandparent, or grandchild?

Opinion 14-113 May a candidate for judicial office accept the endorsement of a newly formed political party which is limited to the single issue suggested by the party's name?

Opinion 14-116 May an Appellate Division judge whose spouse serves on a departmental Committee on Character and Fitness preside when a matter involving an application for admission comes before the court?

Opinion 14-155 What are a judge's ethical obligations should the judge's spouse accept employment of a clerical/administrative nature with a local attorney who frequently appears before the judge as a criminal defense attorney?

Opinion 14-156 May a judge and/or the judge's court attorneys attend a Continuing Legal Education program offered by a private legal training organization founded by an attorney, as the founder's guest, where the founder is an attorney who has not appeared, and is not likely to appear, in the judge's court?

Opinion 14-158 May a judge who is permitted to practice law include the designation "Hon." preceding his/her name in the heading of his/her attorney profile on his/her law firm's website, or otherwise display his/her judicial title in the firm's list of attorneys?

Opinion 14-164 May a judge appear and comment during a public legislative budget hearing regarding proposed cutbacks at the Sheriff's Department in the judge's county and the negative impact that would cause to the County Diversion/Drug Court?

Opinion 14-173 May a village justice consent to hire a village court clerk who would concurrently be employed as an Admissions Officer in the County Sheriff's office?

Opinion 14-178 When may prospective candidates for a judicial office engage in campaign activities once the sitting judge is elected to higher judicial office?

Opinion 14-181 May a judge serve as a mentor to a teenager who has recently appeared before the judge as the respondent in a Persons in Need of Supervision truancy proceeding?

back to top


December 10, 2014 Broadcast

Opinion 14-23 May a full-time judge who has independently written, published, marketed, and sold a bench book online also sell the book directly to the Unified Court System's Office of Court Administration?

Opinion 14-28 May a part-time judge serve as counsel to a nearby town and, in such capacity, provide legal advice to the town board, attend town board meetings, and defend the town in tax certiorari proceedings brought in Supreme Court?

Opinion 14-32 (1) May a judge preside where a prospective witness and alleged victim in a criminal case is the presiding judge's former client in a case concluded more than five years ago? (2) May a judge preside where a prospective witness and alleged victim in a criminal case was formerly a respondent in a neglect proceeding the judge prosecuted in his/her former capacity as a government attorney?

Opinion 14-63 May a city court judge who is appointed by a body of city officials that includes the mayor preside in a case where the mayor, or the mayor's relative, appears as an attorney?

Opinion 14-69 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to suggest that his/her wedding guests consider contributing to a charity of their choice in lieu of giving a wedding gift?

Opinion 14-72 May a village justice preside when members of the town board appear, where the town board does not participate in setting the village court's budget or its justice's salary, but the town board pays a portion of the village court's clerical expenses?

Opinion 14-73 May a judge write an unsolicited letter to a federal executive branch employee expressing appreciation for the employee's professionalism, based on the judge's personal knowledge, and use his/her judicial stationery marked "personal and unofficial"?

Opinion 14-80 May a part-time lawyer/judge assist a long-time client and family friend with a case pending before another part-time lawyer/judge in the same county?

Opinion 14-90 Is a judge who has a social relationship with the deputy director of a legal services organization required to disqualify him/herself or disclose the relationship when the deputy director's subordinates appear before the judge?

Joint Opinion 14-92/14-94 When does a judicial candidate’s window period begin when the party designating meeting has been held and then a new meeting is scheduled due to withdrawal of a candidate from the campaign?

Opinion 14-125 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to write an article in a local quarterly magazine on the workings and jurisdiction of the local justice courts?

back to top


December 3, 2014 Broadcast

Opinion 14-50 Is a judge ethically required to take any action in furtherance of his/her disciplinary responsibilities where a law enforcement officer has, in the course of testifying about possible criminal activity on the part of a criminal defendant, mentioned the names of one or more attorney(s) and judge(s)?

Opinion 14-52 May a judge permit an author to observe proceedings in the judge's courtroom and write about them and about the individuals involved, and respond to the author's general questions about the court and its legal procedures?

Opinion 14-66 May a part-time judge who also is a high-level employee of the county government: (1) allocate funds annually to a probation department employment program; (2) participate in the solicitation of funds; and (3) meet with elected officials to advocate for maintenance of services to a particular category of individuals?

Opinion 14-68 Must a town or village justice prohibit the court clerk from engaging in charitable fund-raising on his/her own time?

Opinion 14-114 How must a town judge respond when he/she believes certain charges allocated to the justice court line in the town's budget are not proper court expenditures?

Opinion 14-122 Is a judge required to report certain conduct of a notary public which may violate the Executive Law, when the notary is not a judge or an attorney?

Opinion 14-123 May a judge publicly advocate for passage of a constitutional amendment regarding legislative redistricting and serve as a moderator for a program on the redistricting amendment?

Opinion 14-124 May a judge accept an invitation to become a member of the Board of Directors of the local Police Athletic League?

Opinion 14-128 May a judge continue to preside over a criminal case where the defendant has previously caused a mistrial by telephoning the court purporting to be a trial juror; caused a delay in the trial by feigning a heart attack; and now has indicated his/her intention to commence an action against the judge, apparently in an effort to secure the judge’s disqualification before the judge can impose sentence?

Opinion 14-132 May a judge participate in a not-for-profit charitable organization's fund-raising challenge, where each participant is required to publicize his/her own participation and publicly solicit other participants?

back to top


November 24, 2014 Broadcast

Opinion 14-20 May a supervising judge permit a local medical professional, who is an expert in child abuse and who regularly consults with and testifies as an expert on behalf of the District Attorney and/or the Department of Social Services, to present a judicial training on child abuse to Family Court judges who preside in the supervising judge's district?

Opinion 14-59 Must a judge disclose that his/her minor children work part-time as babysitters for the children of an attorney who appears in the judge's court?

Opinion 14-81 Must a judge disqualify him/herself, solely because a party appearing before the judge is the spouse of another judge who presides in the same court?

Opinion 14-96 May a judge preside in a particular uncontested matter, in which the parties are a judge and his/her spouse with whom the judge has had very limited social interaction over the years?

Opinion 14-98 May a part-time lawyer judge enter into an agreement with a private company to provide security and marketing services as a subcontractor, where the private company has its own contractual relationship with a not-for-profit organization whose counsel regularly appears before the judge?

Opinion 14-99 What topics is a judge ethically permitted to discuss on a local radio station and public access shows?

Opinion 14-105 May a judge continue to preside over a criminal case, where the defendant, who identifies him/herself as a member of the Sovereign Citizens group, has commenced a lawsuit against the judge and other public officials and agencies?

Opinion 14-106 May an administrative judge who is required to transmit the name of an individual recommended for a particular appointment to the appointing authority, do so when he/she has ethical or administrative concerns about the suitability of the appointment?

Opinion 14-109 Will the Committee reconsider Opinion 03-129, which states that a judge who is constitutionally barred from holding "another public office or trust" (NY Const art VI §20[b]) may not serve as a notary public; and, therefore, may not carry petitions to be designated by other parties in his/her re-election efforts?

Opinion 14-118 Is a judge ethically required to grant defense counsel’s motion for disqualification in a criminal matter, which the District Attorney’s office prosecutes, solely because the judge’s spouse is the District Attorney’s personal secretary, given the judge's spouse's "limited role" as secretary and "his/her lack of involvement in any criminal matters"?

back to top


November 13, 2014 Broadcast

Opinion 14-26 May a judge attend a CLE education program where the judge's decision on a novel legal issue will be discussed, while the matter remains pending or impending? May the judge write a law review article discussing the rationale behind the decision and its potential impact on future decisions?

Opinion 14-41 May a judge purchase tickets to and attend a fund-raising dinner for a not-for-profit organization that provides assistance to and advocates for victims of domestic violence, where the organization's volunteers sometimes accompany complainants to the judge's courtroom?

Opinion 14-48 May a judge permit his/her third-degree relative to serve as an unpaid summer intern in the judge’s chambers?

Opinion 14-61 (1) May a part-time judge who until recently was employed as a secretary in the local prosecutor's office preside when his/her former supervisor appears in court? (2) May a part-time judge who was employed as a secretary in the District Attorney's office more than four years ago preside when the District Attorney’s office appears in court?

Opinion 14-74 May a full-time judge accept free admission to a continuing legal education seminar offered by a private legal training organization that is owned and/or operated by an attorney who has not appeared, and is not likely to appear, in the judge's court?

Opinion 14-75 Must a town justice disqualify him/herself when a law partner or associate attorney from a town board member's law firm appears in the judge’s court?

Opinion 14-76 May a full-time judge perform additional, unexpected duties as the receiver for a matter the judge thought had been concluded before the judge assumed the bench?

Opinion 14-79 May a judge adopt a policy requiring parties to an action to appear before the judge for allocution and explanation before entering into an out-of-court stipulation, when one of the parties is unrepresented?

Opinion 14-83 What avenues of relief may a judge ethically pursue in response to actions the judge believes to be harassing and bullying?

Opinion 14-87 May a judge provide criminal defendants, who resolve their cases at arraignment with a disposition that does not include jail time, with a card that lists multiple resources for help with alcohol and drug addiction, along with the Internet address for a public library website that lists a variety of social services available to the formerly incarcerated?

back to top


October 27, 2014 Broadcast

Opinion 14-55 May a judge who is called as a witness in a criminal case concerning threats allegedly made against the judge continue to preside over unrelated matters involving the attorneys who are prosecuting or defending that criminal case?

Opinion 14-56 May a town judge preside over a matter involving an individual who is a former domestic partner of an official of the town in which the judge presides?

Opinion 14-57 May a part-time lawyer judge ask the clerk of a village justice court to assign all cases in which the judge represents a client to the non-lawyer acting village justice?

Opinion 14-58 When a pro se criminal defendant files a multi-million dollar lien against a judge's property and the sole basis for the lien filing is the judge's performance of his/her official judicial duties: (1) What steps may the judge take to clear his/her title? (2) May the judge use the court's clerical and other resources to assist in preparing a pro se expungement proceeding? (3) May the judge continue to preside in the criminal case?

Opinion 14-62 May a judge preside in a case where a party currently appearing before him/her is also an attorney who regularly appears before the judge? Is the judge thereafter required to disclose or disqualify him/herself in other matters in which the attorney or his/her law firm appears?

Opinion 14-64 May an appellate judge whose first-degree relative is a law enforcement officer with supervisory responsibilities within the jurisdiction of the judge's court preside over cases in which the law enforcement agency appears?

Opinion 14-65 May a town justice preside in a case involving the Town Highway Superintendent?

Opinion 14-67 Is a full-time judge required to file a report with the clerk of the court under Section 100.4(H) with respect to interest income, investment income, or compensation for legal work performed before he/she became a full-time judge?

Opinion 14-70 May a judge continue as a member of the advisory board of a hospital and as a member of the Rotary Club?

Opinion 14-71 Is it ethically permissible for a part-time judge to lease certain real property the judge owns to a business entity, where the entity's proposed use of the judge’s property will require obtaining certain approvals from the municipality where the property is located and could also lead to public hearings concerning the proposal?

back to top


October 15, 2014 Broadcast

Opinion 14-29 May a judge hold a leadership role in a "non-partisan feminist coalition" which advocates for and influences legislative and social policy affecting women and children? Be a regular member of the organization? Attend meetings or events? Make contributions to the organization?

Opinion 14-33 May a judge, at the request of a friend who is seeking permission from a government agency to enter a foreign country, provide a letter of recommendation for submission to the government agency?

Opinion 14-35 May a full-time judge discuss the Bill of Rights at a public school teachers' conference, and accept an honorarium from a not-for-profit organization?

Opinion 14-39 Must a judge report an attorney to the disciplinary authority after learning the attorney is under indictment?

Joint Opinion 14-40/14-43 May a judge who is a member of a bar association's judicial section permit non-judge members of the bar association to ask law firms and other private entities to underwrite certain events which the bar association sponsors each year for the judicial section?

Opinion 14-45 May a judge accept an unannounced award at a college's fund-raising event? Be identified during and after the event as an award recipient? Be listed as a past award recipient on the college's website once the event is concluded?

Opinion 14-46 May a full-time quasi-judicial official serve as a coach for a local public school's sports team and accept the reasonable compensation offered?

Opinion 14-47 May a judge preside problem-solving court cases when the judge’s former client from the judge’s prior service as a public service attorney, appears?

Opinion 14-49 May a judge, quasi-judicial official, or candidate for election to judicial office attend a not-for-profit organization's fund-raising event, where the theme of the event, as promoted by the organization, is an exhortation for attendees to "repeal or disregard" a particular statute?

Opinion 14-53 May an attorney who is a part-time town judge practice law as partner of an attorney who is a part-time village prosecutor?

back to top


October 7, 2014 Broadcast

Opinion 14-01 May a judge preside over an arraignment when a defendant is not represented by counsel?

Opinion 14-03 May a full-time judge serve as the executor of a parent's estate and give uncompensated legal advice to his/her parent? May a full-time judge serve as attorney for a parent’s estate?

Opinion 14-05 Is it permissible for a judge to host a court website on a social network?

Opinion 14-07 May a Family Court judge who formerly served in a high-ranking supervisory position in the county attorney's office, and thus frequently represented a county agency in neglect and abuse proceedings, either personally or through assistant county attorneys subject to his/her supervision, preside over matters in which the county attorney's office appears?

Opinion 14-09 May a judge who issued a decision on a novel legal issue attend a presentation at a bar association function at which the judge’s decision will be singled out for discussion by an individual associated with one side of the case, while the case is pending or impending?

Opinion 14-10 May a judge who formerly served as the District Attorney for the county where the judge presides preside over cases in which the District Attorney's office appears?

Opinion 14-11 May a judge who has sued the Public Defender preside in matters where the Public Defender or attorneys subject to the Public Defender’s supervision appear?

Opinion 14-13 What are the ethical obligations of a judge who sold his/her former law office telephone number to an attorney for a lump sum, when the purchasing attorney appears before the judge?

Opinion 14-17 May a judge amend his/her prior order to correct an error or omission that a party has brought to the judge’s attention?

Opinion 14-19 May a judge who is trained in the proper collection procedure for collecting DNA samples pursuant to applicable law undertake to collect DNA samples from individuals who have been found guilty and sentenced in the judge's court, for the convenience of defendants?

Opinion 14-27 May a judge preside when the judge’s former law clerk’s current law firm partners and associates appear in the judge’s court?

Opinion 14-30 What are the ethical obligations of judge who listed an attorney as a reference in the judge’s application for appointment or re-appointment when that attorney or his/her law firm colleagues appear before the judge? May the judge appoint such attorneys to fiduciary or other appointive positions?

Opinion 14-31 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to lecture, as part of a training program for appellate and trial prosecutors, on effective and ineffective techniques when litigating in the Appellate Division, when only prosecutors and law enforcement personnel will be in attendance?

Opinion 14-34 Is it appropriate for a judge to defer to a legal interpretation reached by another branch of government concerning the appointment of counsel for indigent defendants, when such interpretation is inconsistent with the judge's own good-faith interpretation of the law?

Opinion 14-36 May a town or village justice preside during an arraignment at which a town or village board member, who participates in setting the judge’s salary, appears as the prosecution’s sole representative?

Opinion 14-37 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to write articles about legal procedure for quarterly publication in a local newspaper with limited circulation?

Opinion 14-38 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to accompany his/her sibling, a pro-se litigant, to court in another state?

Opinion 14-42 What is a judge’s ethical obligation when a local Medical Center, which employs a member of the judge’s family who resides in the judge’s household, appears before the judge?

Opinion 14-44 May a part-time town justice also maintain employment as an investigator for the county Department of Social Services?

back to top


August 20, 2014 Broadcast

Opinion 14-06 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to apply and interview for the position of town attorney for the town where the judge presides without first resigning his/her judgeship?

Opinion 14-08 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to participate in a local public radio station's on-air fund drives?

Opinion 14-12 May a judge sua sponte advise defendants of a specific plea agreement the judge anticipates the prosecutor will offer and explain its purported advantages?

Opinion 14-14 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to preside when members of the Public Defender's office appear before the judge when the Public Defender and the judge are co-counsels in another court?

Opinion 14-15 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to serve as a volunteer advisor and member of a special and planned gifts committee of a community college foundation?

Opinion 14-16 Is it ethically permissible for the Board of a County Bar Association, which includes several judges, to send a letter to the Chief Judge of the State of New York, voicing the Association's opinion about a proposed change in the Chief Administrator's rules governing attorney registration?

Opinion 14-18 Is it ethically permissible for a part-time judge to be employed as a zoning code official in a town 30 miles away from the town in which the judge presides as town justice?

Opinion 14-22 May a judge preside over cases in which the judge's former colleagues at a public law office appear as counsel once the judge becomes a full time judge and resigns his/her position in that office?

Opinion 14-24 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to be an advertised guest of honor at a law school fund-raising event?

Opinion 14-25 Is it ethically permissible for a judge, the Public Defender, assistant district attorney, various defense attorneys and certain court personnel to dine together approximately three to six times a year to celebrate birthdays?

back to top


Researching and Retrieving Other Committee Opinions

Simply click the link for Search ACJE Opinions to research and retrieve other Committee opinions.

For suggestions on use of the search engine, click on Search Help.

back to top


Formal and Informal Ethics Inquiries

Individuals who are subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct may seek further guidance from the Advisory Committee on how to apply these and other rules and opinions to their own prospective conduct in specific circumstances.

Simply click the link for Requesting an Opinion for more information.

The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics does not accept inquiries by e-mail.

back to top