December 1, 2020
This responds to your inquiry (20-155) asking whether you, a full-time judge, may form a for-profit company to provide instruction and education on topics involving diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct provide that full-time judges shall conduct their extra-judicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with their judicial obligations. Therefore, “[a] full-time judge shall not serve as an officer, director, manager, general partner, advisor, employee or other active participant of any business entity” (22 NYCRR 100.4[D]). However, the Committee has advised that a judge may be a minority shareholder in a company, provided the judge is a purely passive investor with no other role.
Since the company would be engaged in a for-profit endeavor, participating in the formation and creation of such company would make you an “active participant” in a business entity, which is prohibited under the Rules.
Enclosed for your convenience is Opinion 18-169, which addresses this issue.
Very truly yours,
Margaret T. Walsh
Supreme Court Justice
Acting Supreme Court Justice