May 20, 2020
This responds to your inquiry (20-39) asking whether you may create generic thank you cards for your chambers, featuring a stock image of the exterior of the courthouse and bearing a message saying “Thank you” followed by your judicial title and name. You would also “include a personal note thanking an individual for some specific act,” such as juror service.
The Committee has previously advised that it is ethically permissible for a judge to write a personal letter to jurors generally thanking them for their service. However, the judge should not praise or criticize them for their verdict (see 22 NYCRR 100.3[B]).
While we see no ethical impropriety in using an image of the courthouse exterior, we cannot comment on copyright or other legal issues, if any, in using a third party’s photograph (see Judiciary Law 212[l]; 22 NYCRR 101.1). In any event, we suggest you secure appropriate permissions, if needed, before using the image.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 01-36; 07-77; and 95-53 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice (Ret.)
Appellate Div., First Dep’t
Margaret T. Walsh
Supreme Court Justice