Opinion 22-105

Short-Form Opinion



June 30, 2022


 

Question:          You ask if, as a full-time judge who was previously an academic, you may participate in a not-for-profit entity’s overseas trip which had been postponed due to the pandemic. You have indicated that the purpose of the trip is primarily educational in nature, as is intended to “deepen understanding” of a particular region of the world “within the international academic community.” The entity covers all costs of the trip, including “airfare, hotels and the lectures/seminars.” You have stated that the entity does not appear before your court.

 

Discussion:        We have previously advised that a full-time judge may participate in: 1) a trip to Africa, financed by a third party sponsor, to observe elections; 2) a legal seminar in another country financed by a non-profit group; and 3) a mission to Israel with his/her expenses reimbursed by a non-profit organization.  In doing so, we have noted that expense reimbursements for full-time judges are limited to the actual cost of travel, food and lodging reasonably incurred by the judge. Any payment in excess of such an amount is compensation that may be subject to the reporting requirements set forth in the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[D][5][h] and 100.4[H][2]). 1

 

Accordingly, it is ethically permissible for you to participate in the trip sponsored by the not-for-profit organization, and may accept reimbursement for the cost of participating, subject to any applicable reporting requirements set forth in section 100.4(H) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.


Enclosed:          Opinions 08-20; 06-49; 01-82.



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1 We decline to comment on any potential reporting obligations under Part 40. The Unified Court System’s Ethics Commission (Tel. 212-428-2899) is the agency authorized to interpret Part 40 and advise on reporting requirements thereunder.