Opinion 21-71

April 29, 2021


Digest:       A full-time judge may author a chapter of a book concerned with the creation of lasting reforms in the area of child welfare in the public and not-for-profit sectors.


Rules:        22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.3(B)(8); 100.4(A)(1)-(3); 100.4(B); Opinions 19-101; 10-84; 95-145.


         A family court judge who previously worked at the Administration for Children’s Services asks whether the judge may contribute a chapter to a book to be authored by a former colleague who is now in academia. The book, a case study of an example of good government, is intended to reflect “the experiences of leaders who worked at” the agency at a critical time in its history, “in order to help promote sound leadership and management strategies.” Each chapter will touch on themes of leadership, race and equity, and the importance of data in decision-making. Specifically, the judge proposes to write about what they “saw, learned and did to strengthen the infrastructure of the legal units.” The judge notes that, at present, the Administration for Children’s Services and its in-house Family Court Legal Services attorneys appear before the judge on many cases.

         A judge must always avoid even the appearance of impropriety (see 22 NYCRR 100.2) and must always act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity and impartiality (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). While a judge may engage in extrajudicial activities such as teaching and writing (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[B]), such activities may not be incompatible with judicial office nor (1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially; (2) detract from the dignity of judicial office; or (3) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[A][1]-[3]). Further, a judge may not publicly comment on pending or impending proceedings in any court in the United States or its territories (see 22 NYCRR 100.3[B][8]).

         Consistent with relevant rules, we conclude that the inquiring judge may contribute a chapter to this educational book provided that the judge does not discuss any case that is pending or impending (see 22 NYCRR 100.3[B][8]; Opinions 10-84; 95-145) and does not use court resources for this activity (see Opinion 19-101).