May 19, 2020
This responds to your inquiry (20-59) asking whether, as a full-time judge, you may publish and promote your autobiography and if so, whether you may name specific out-of-state doctors or medical entities you credit for helping you recover from life-threatening medical conditions. You also inquire whether you may participate in an audiotaped interview and radio program, organized by the publisher, to promote the book.
The Committee has advised that a judge, whether full-time or part-time, may write a book and profit from its publication, notwithstanding the involvement of a commercial publisher. Although a judge many not permit his/her judicial position to be exploited in promoting the book, the judge need not conceal his/her identity as a judge. Indeed, a judge may permit the use of his/her name, judicial title and photograph on the book’s back cover.
We have also advised that a judge may publicize or promote a book he/she has written, including at events organized by the publisher. Thus, a judge may participate in a media interview regarding his/her book where the interview is merely to promote the book itself and is being produced for a local non-commercial public access station. However, if the book’s subject matter is not limited to the law, the legal system or the administration of justice and is unlikely to have any special appeal to the legal community apart from the author’s judicial status, the judge should refrain from targeting lawyers or the legal profession in efforts to promote the book.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a judge from lending the prestige of the office to advance the private interests of others (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[C]). Nevertheless, we see no impropriety in acknowledging the doctors who helped you recover, as it appears you are not providing a testimonial to promote their practices. (You may, if you deem it appropriate, notify those you acknowledge in advance of the book’s publication and advise that your remarks may not be used by them for self-promotion).
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 19-101; 16-06; 15-182; and 15-103, which address these issues.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice (Ret.)
Appellate Div., First Dep’t
Margaret T. Walsh
Supreme Court Justice