Subject Matter Index: Political Activity

Note: This page focuses on recent opinions addressing questions about political activities.  To access other portions of the subject matter index, please use the general topic links above.
 

Political Activity

(See 22 NYCRR 100.5.)

(1) Seeking election to judicial office: Judicial Campaigns; Unexpended Campaign Funds | 
(2) Sitting judges and quasi-judicial officials: (a) Testing the Waters; Seeking Non-Judicial Office; Seeking Appointive Judicial Office; State Constitutional Conventions | (b) Exercising the Right to Vote; Encouraging or Facilitating Voting By Others | (c) SCAR Hearing Officers and Judicial Hearing Officers (JHOs) | (d) Miscellaneous Activities of Judge or Quasi-Judicial Official |
(3) Other individuals: (a) Activities of Judge's Relatives | (b) Activities of Court Employees | (c) Activities of Judge's Employer, Partners or Associates | (d) Activities of Political Parties or Other Candidates; Duty to Object
 

Judicial Campaigns; Unexpended Campaign Funds

(See 22 NYCRR 100.5; 100.0[A]; 100.0[Q]; Election Law §§ 17-162; 14-130; 14-114[6]).)

For additional resources, plus information about obtaining speedy responses to questions about one's own judicial campaign, visit the Judicial Campaign Ethics Center

For potential disqualification or disclosure issues arising from the judge's election campaign, see "Conflicts - Judge's Election Campaign or Appointment".

Opinion 21-128 (1) The window period for an individual seeking election to Supreme Court commences nine months before the earlier of (a) the date of formal nomination by convention; or (b) the date of a recognized party-sponsored caucus or committee meeting within the candidate's judicial district held for the purpose of discussing or considering nominations of delegates to the judicial nominating convention, even if a resulting designation or endorsement would be subject to a subsequent contest.  (2) If no date for such a meeting has yet been set, the candidate may assume that the previous year's official date will be used again for the upcoming party meeting and then count back nine months from that presumed date.

Opinion 21-40 Subject to generally applicable limitations on campaign speech and conduct, a judicial candidate may permit their campaign committee to establish a Twitter account for campaign purposes and use it to “follow” the judge’s election opponent and/or other candidates on Twitter during the window period.

Opinion 21-36 A judge who purchased and used wooden frames for lawn signs in a now-concluded judicial campaign: (1) may not lend or donate the frames for use in another candidate’s campaign but (2) may use the frames in the judge’s own future campaign(s) for judicial office.

Opinion 21-30 Provided a judicial candidate determines they will receive fair value for the expenditure, the candidate may permit their campaign committee to purchase subscriptions during the window period to a web-based service that (1) provides information on potential donors for use by the candidate's campaign committee for a flat monthly fee and/or (2) allows the judge's campaign committee to communicate live with voters by telephone or text for a flat per-call fee.

Opinion 20-133 A judicial candidate may not attend or participate in a fund-raising event for a slate of judicial and non-judicial candidates where the candidate’s name is displayed on the invitation.

Opinion 20-114 May a judicial candidate make certain statements in their campaign concerning the conduct of the incumbent judge who is not seeking re-election and/or make certain pledges or promises concerning their own prospective conduct if elected?

Opinion 20-111 Judicial candidates may attend virtual political fund-raising events during their window period, subject to the usual limitations on price and number of tickets, provided they attend and appear on screen along with other attendees.

Opinion 20-83 A Supreme Court candidate may write a letter asking voters to vote in a primary election for a judicial delegate who will support his/her nomination but must make clear that his/her endorsement of the delegate is for the purpose of furthering his/her own candidacy for Supreme Court. This information should be contained in the body of the letter; a notation at the very bottom of the page, in a much smaller font than the rest of the letter, is insufficient.

Opinion 19-133 ... (3) A judge who is running for election to judicial office may respond to personal attacks or attacks on his/her record in his/her capacity as a judicial candidate, provided the response is truthful and not misleading. Thus the judge may, for example, (a) share copies of ethics opinions he/she believes authorize the criticized conduct, (b) disclose the length of his/her employment as an attorney and a part-time judge, (c) disclose facts and circumstances concerning his/her seeking a judicial ethics opinion, and/or (d) explain how his/her conduct has been influenced and guided by such opinions.

Opinion 19-119 Where a political action committee's endorsement is conditioned on the candidate's pledge, promise or commitment (a) not to seek or accept a specified political party's nomination and (b) to disregard the law by "unequivocally support[ing]" access to certain regulated medical procedures or devices "unimpeded by laws, restrictions, or regulations," a judicial candidate must decline the entity's endorsement. On these facts, the candidate also must not attend the entity's fund-raiser featuring its endorsed candidates.

Opinion 19-112 Judicial candidates must take particular care to ascertain the truth of all claims they make about their election opponents and make every effort to avoid misleading the public with mere speculation or innuendo. Thus, a candidate may not (1) unjustly characterize an election opponent’s prior removal from the ballot as an inability to “follow the law” and/or a “flagrant disregard for the law” or (2) present hypothetical scenarios incorrectly suggesting unfavorable litigation outcomes that can only result from a judge’s failure to “follow the law” or other judicial misconduct.

Opinion 19-109 A judicial candidate may pay his/her proportionate share of the actual expenses for a “petition signing party,” at which modest and reasonable refreshments are served, for the purpose of assembling registered voters to sign petitions, provided he/she concludes the campaign will receive fair value for the expenditure. However, the candidate must only circulate or request signatures on petitions as permitted by prior opinions.

Opinion 19-98 A judge who presides in a drug treatment court may not solicit campaign endorsements from treatment court graduates.

Opinion 19-94(B) A judicial candidate may not permit a political action committee to host a joint fund-raiser for him/her and another candidate.

Opinion 19-94(A) A judicial candidate may allow an individual to host a joint fund-raiser for him/her and two other judicial candidates, but the attendees must write separate checks to each candidate’s campaign committee.

Opinion 19-53 A judicial candidate must not use a photograph of strangers that falsely implies the individuals depicted endorse the candidate.

Opinion 19-37 A judicial candidate’s campaign committee may use an electronic event invitation system that charges 2% of the ticket price per ticket sold to distribute fund-raising invitations and sell tickets.

Opinion 19-19 If a judicial candidate determines he/she is legally permitted to repay his/her personal loan after the election, it is ethically permissible for him/her to use his/her remaining unexpended campaign funds, raised before election day, to do so.

Opinion 18-167 A judge who is a judicial candidate within his/her window period may pay his/her proportionate share of the actual expenses for a free “meet and greet” with four candidates for non-judicial office, where two of these candidates are invited as guests and will not share in the expenses, provided he/she concludes the campaign will receive fair value for the expenditure.

Opinion 18-164 A judicial candidate who is part of a political party’s slate may attend a fund-raising event where the invitation says “come meet [this year’s] candidates, including our judicial slate,” without naming him/her.

Opinion 18-121/18-122/18-123 (1) During the applicable window period, a judicial candidate generally may purchase campaign advertisements at a picnic organized by a labor union or a political party, subject to the fair value rule, even if the advertisements are labeled as “sponsorships.” (2) Where purchase of any level of sponsorship at the picnic will result in the identical advertisement (a mere listing of the candidate’s name in a brochure), the candidate may only purchase the least expensive level of sponsorship. (3) Where the picnic is sponsored by a political organization and the advertising opportunities are bundled together with tickets to the event, the judicial candidate must also comply with the limitations on price and number of tickets. (4) Where different levels of sponsorships reflect distinctly different levels of advertising visibility at the picnic, the candidate may purchase a mid-range sponsorship package resulting in mid-level visibility and one-time recognition by the master of ceremonies, provided the candidate decides his/her campaign will get fair value for the expense.

Opinion 18-117 (1) Once a judicial candidate’s total remaining unexpended campaign funds are deemed de minimis, the candidate may (a) use these funds to purchase two judicial robes and/or (b) donate the balance to a not-for-profit entity that operates a childcare program at the courthouse for children of litigants in that court, with instructions that the funds be used for that purpose. (2) Judicial candidates who, after the conclusion of their window period, wish to donate their de minimis unexpended campaign funds to an entity other than those specifically referenced in one of our published opinions should write to the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics for guidance.

Opinion 18-116 Where a judicial candidate loaned his/her personal funds to the campaign, and that loan is now legally deemed a contribution, the candidate may include his/her contribution in the calculations when returning unexpended campaign funds pro rata to the candidate and to all campaign contributors after the window period ends. Thus, if the candidate’s personal loan was the campaign’s sole funding source, he/she may return all the funds entirely to him/herself as the sole contributor.

Opinion 18-105 A Supreme Court candidate seeking a political party’s nomination may circulate a petition for the party’s slate of “uncommitted” judicial delegates, where none of the delegates on the petition is publicly committed to support any Supreme Court candidate but must make clear that his/her endorsement of such delegates is for the purpose of furthering his/her own candidacy.

Opinion 18-96 A judicial candidate must not use campaign contributions to purchase new clothes for his/her election campaign.

Opinion 18-95 A judicial candidate may not answer a political party’s questionnaire designed to elicit express and implied commitments that (a) are unrelated to the impartial performance of judicial duties and/or (b) would require him/her to engage in activities prohibited by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 18-70 Subject to the fair value rule, a candidate for elective judicial office may use campaign funds to attend a charitable event during the post-election window period and purchase a full-page congratulatory journal advertisement in furtherance of his/her campaign. That the candidate is a trustee of the organization does not render this expenditure impermissible.

Opinion 18-69 Subject to compliance with all applicable rules and statutes, a judicial candidate may permit a member of his/her campaign committee to manage a private GoFundMe account to raise contributions for the campaign, provided (1) the candidate is insulated from knowing who contributed and (2) such contributions are properly reported by the campaign treasurer.

Opinion 18-68 Subject to the fair value rule, a judicial candidate who has only de minimis remaining unexpended campaign funds may use such funds to attend legal education conferences to enhance his/her judicial competence.

Opinion 18-63 Where a judge has completed all post-election requirements to wind down and terminate his/her campaign, he/she may subsequently return to the sender an unopened envelope addressed to the judge’s now defunct campaign committee. The judge may include a letter on campaign letterhead or personal letterhead and signed personally by the judge.

Opinion 18-35 (1) A judicial candidate may not permit another person to purchase a $2,000 ticket to a political event and donate it to his/her campaign but may permit his/her campaign committee to request admission for $250 even though others must pay $2,000.

Opinion 18-14 A judge in his/her window period may use his/her own personal funds to make sponsor-level charitable donations, and permit the entity to acknowledge the donation by prominently displaying the judge’s name and judicial title, without reference to the “fair value” rule, provided these advertisements contain no reference to his/her campaign.

Opinion 17-139 (1) Where a slate advertisement makes direct or indirect pledges or promises on behalf of the slate which are unrelated to the faithful and impartial performance of adjudicative duties, the judicial candidate must not consent to their inclusion unless the advertisement makes clear that these statements reflect only the position of the candidates for non-judicial office. (2) Judicial candidates may state their subjective view of their qualifications relative to an opponent’s but must ensure the supporting statements are truthful and not misleading. (3) A non-incumbent judicial candidate must be careful not to imply he/she is an incumbent and, thus, must use words such as “for” or “elect” rather than merely stating his/her name and the position sought.

Opinion 17-138 Where a litigant has provided a judge with a copy of a purported disciplinary complaint but the Commission on Judicial Conduct has not contacted the judge about any pending investigation or complaint, the judge may presume no investigation or complaint is now pending.

Opinion 17-28 A candidate for judicial office may not respond to a questionnaire which, when seen as a whole, can only be seen as a series of implied pledges, promises, and commitments, touching on a wide variety of closely interrelated issues that may come before the judge if elected or re-elected.

Opinion 17-60 An announcement by the outgoing political party chair that next year’s party meeting will be held “in May 2018” is not sufficiently definite and reliable for judicial candidates to calculate the start of their window period. They may therefore assume that this year’s official date will be used again in 2018 and count back nine months from that presumed date.

Opinion 17-23 A judge whose window period has expired may keep his/her campaign account open for the purpose of paying outstanding legal bills from his/her former campaign, where the campaign committee’s sole activities are accepting deposits of the judge’s personal funds and making payments to discharge the campaign’s outstanding legal debt or liability. The campaign account must be closed as soon as practicable once the debt or liability is discharged.

Opinion 16-150 Two judicial candidates may send a joint mailing to voters who request an absentee ballot, provided they avoid any implication of a cross-endorsement.

Opinion 16-97 After one bona fide effort to return unexpended funds pro rata to all contributors, a judicial candidate need not make any further efforts to return the funds, even if some envelopes were returned to the campaign committee as undeliverable. Instead, the remaining campaign funds may be used for any purpose consistent with prior opinions and applicable law.

Opinion 16-79 A judicial candidate may not personally distribute campaign materials that, on their face, invite the public to “donate” to his/her campaign, but may permit his/her campaign committee to do so.

Opinion 16-75 Two judicial candidates, hosting a joint fund-raiser, may permit their campaign committees to accommodate an attendee who supports only one candidate and therefore refuses to pay 50% of the ticket price to each campaign committee, by allowing him/her to pay the full price to one campaign committee. If they choose to so proceed, the candidates must instruct their campaign committees to shield the candidates from the accommodation’s details, including the donor’s identity.

Opinion 16-47 A non-judge who is a judicial candidate in his/her window period may not serve on a local bar association’s screening panel evaluating applicants for appointment to state or federal judicial office.

Opinion 16-29/16-50 (1) A candidate whose remaining unexpended campaign funds total $2,500 or less at the end of the window period may immediately treat those funds as de minimis without first attempting to return the funds pro rata to contributors. (2) A candidate whose remaining unexpended campaign funds exceed $2,500 must make one reasonable, bona fide attempt to return all the funds pro rata to contributors. Any funds remaining following this effort may be treated as de minimis. (3) De minimis campaign funds, as defined above, may be used after conclusion of the window period as follows, to the extent legally permitted:(a) they may be expended for any lawful non-political purpose connected to judicial office, such as the purchase of judicial robes, office supplies, computer software or books; or (b) they may be donated to the Catalyst Public Service Fellowship Program; or (c) subject to any necessary administrative approvals, they may be used to purchase books or other reference materials to be donated to the courthouse law libraries. (4) The Committee declines to address whether unexpended campaign funds may be donated to the Unified Court System, absent resolution of the legal and administrative policy issues involved.

Opinion 16-07 A judicial candidate may not sign a political organization’s pledge that requires the candidate to support and endorse all other candidates endorsed by the organization and to consult with it on any appointments when in public office.

Opinion 15-196 (1) A law clerk who conferences cases on behalf of a judge may, in his/her capacity as a judicial candidate, film a campaign commercial depicting a simulated conference, provided it is not misleading and there is no connotation of a judicial context. 

Opinion 15-121 Subject to certain limitations, a judicial candidate may permit his/her campaign committee to establish Facebook connections with the campaign committees of other candidates on the same slate.

Opinion 15-112/15-146 (1) To the extent legally permissible, a judicial candidate may hire responsible persons to pass petitions for his/her campaign and compensate them for the time expended, subject to the fair value rule. (2) A judicial candidate may not agree to pay his/her campaign manager a bonus contingent on the candidate’s electoral victory.

Opinion 15-83 A judicial candidate may, if permitted by law, personally guarantee to Paypal and credit card issuers that he/she will use his/her personal funds to repay them for “chargebacks” for monies mistakenly or wrongfully paid to the candidate’s campaign.

Opinion 15-71 A judicial candidate may, subject to certain limitations, participate in a pro-choice or pro-life advocacy organization’s interview process, answer questions during the interview, and, if offered, accept the organization’s endorsement.

Opinion 15-04 An incumbent judge’s public announcement that he/she will retire from the bench on a specific date, when coupled with an additional significant and reliable affirmative step to effectuate his/her retirement, is sufficient to create a known judicial vacancy for the purpose of determining when the window period opens and individuals may publicly announce their interest in seeking election to the position.

Opinion 15-01 A non-judge who is seeking election or appointment to judicial office may remain employed as a police officer until he/she takes and files his/her oath of office as a judge.

Opinion 14-178 When a sitting judge is elected to higher judicial office, prospective candidates may presume the judge-elect’s current position will be filled at the next general election, as soon as the election results are certified. Thereafter, once the window period for the position is open, they may declare their candidacy, establish campaign committees, and otherwise publicly campaign for the position to the extent legally and ethically permitted.

Opinion 14-167 A judicial candidate, who has received a political organization’s statement of costs incurred on behalf of his/her campaign, has no affirmative duty to investigate the accuracy of the statement. However, where the statement is plainly an unreliable, advance estimate of the actual costs ultimately incurred on the candidate’s behalf, or is otherwise clearly inaccurate on its face, the candidate must request a revised statement of actual costs incurred by the organization.

Opinion 14-148 A judge whose window period for his/her unsuccessful 2014 Supreme Court campaign will overlap with the window period for his/her upcoming 2015 Supreme Court campaign (1) may not roll over funds from one campaign to the next but must establish a new campaign account for the 2015 campaign; (2) may use the remaining 2014 campaign funds for all permissible purposes relating to his/her 2014 campaign during the remainder of his/her 2014 window period, including generically useful purchases which could be used for either campaign; and (3) at the conclusion of his/her 2014 window period, must dispose of any remaining 2014 campaign funds in accordance with applicable rules and opinions.

Opinion 14-146 A judicial candidate may not permit his/her campaign committee to solicit or accept items for donation to a local charity.

Opinion 14-133/14-134 A candidate for Supreme Court who is under consideration for a major political party’s nomination may contribute proportionally to the cost of a pre-primary mailing asking minor party voters to vote for a slate of minor party judicial nominating convention delegates who have pledged to support the candidate if he/she ultimately earns a place on the major party’s ballot line, provided that the mailing makes clear that the judicial candidate’s endorsement is being made solely for the purpose of furthering the judicial candidate’s own candidacy and is otherwise consistent with applicable limitations on judicial speech.

Opinion 14-113 The mere fact that a newly formed political party will be limited to the single issue suggested in the party’s name does not, without more, preclude a judicial candidate’s acceptance of the party’s endorsement or nomination.

Opinion 14-109 Will the Committee reconsider Opinion 03-129, which states that a judge who is constitutionally barred from holding "another public office or trust" (NY Const art VI §20[b]) may not serve as a notary public; and, therefore, may not carry petitions to be designated by other parties in his/her re-election efforts?

Opinion 14-95 A judge who is a candidate for judicial office may attend an event sponsored by a not-for-profit political organization only during his/her Window Period, but may not make donations, attend meetings, become a member, hold a leadership position, or participate in the organization in other ways.

Opinion 14-49 A judge, quasi-judicial official, or candidate for election to judicial office may not attend a not-for-profit organization’s fund-raising event, where the theme of the event, as promoted by the organization, is an exhortation for attendees to “repeal or disregard” a particular statute.

Opinion 14-92/14-94 For purposes of calculating the start of the applicable Window Period, a candidate for elective judicial office may count back nine months from the date of the earliest official party meeting at which a candidate will be informally designated or endorsed for the position.

Opinion 13-144 The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit a court attorney-referee from running for and, if elected, also serving as a part-time town or village justice.

Opinion 13-137/13-152/13-153 (1) A judicial candidate’s participation in a joint advertisement, prepared on behalf of a slate of judicial and non-judicial candidates, is not rendered impermissible merely because the advertisement characterizes the slate as a “team” and urges voters to vote for particular row(s) on the ballot on which the slate appears. (2) Use of disclaimer language indicating that the judicial candidate is not publicly endorsing other candidates is not mandatory for any judicial candidate.

Opinion 13-126 During the applicable window period, a judicial candidate may use an email signature block on his/her personal email which requests non-financial support from voters and provides links to the campaign committee’s social media page and campaign website.

Opinion 13-111 May a full-time judge who is a candidate for re-election, witness signatures on the judge’s own nominating petitions as a Notary Public?

Opinion 13-99/13-100/13-101/13-102 (1) Subject to certain limitations as set forth herein, a judicial candidate may pay to attend a political fund-raiser for which no tickets are sold and no standard admission price has been set. (2) A judicial candidate may purchase the lowest priced full-page campaign advertisement in a journal that will be distributed at a political party’s fund-raiser during the candidate’s window period, but may not pay a premium over that price for a more prominently displayed advertisement.

Opinion 13-60 A judicial candidate who has inadvertently overpaid for an upcoming political event by purchasing a sponsor-level ticket rather than a general admission ticket, and who has requested a refund of the excess payment, need not take any further action.

Opinion 12-172 A judicial candidate may not use funds raised for his/her Supreme Court race to make purchases which are exclusively related to his/her campaign for a different judicial position, but may use those funds to make generically useful purchases which could be used for either judicial campaign, assuming that the judicial candidate believes in good faith at the time of making the expenditures that his/her campaign for Supreme Court has not ended.

Opinion 12-129(A)-(G) (1) A judicial candidate may not hire a professional fund-raising consultant who will be paid on a percentage or commission basis. (2) A judicial candidate may hold a free "meet and greet" event at which modest and reasonable refreshments are served. (3) A judicial candidate may attend and participate in a politically sponsored golf tournament during his/her window period, subject to limitations on price and number of tickets, and may also purchase campaign advertisements at such events, subject to the fair value rule. (4) A judicial candidate may comment on an opponent's conduct, subject to certain limitations. (5) A judicial candidate who is defeated in the election may use a de minimis amount of unexpended campaign funds for an extremely modest social event to thank persons who significantly volunteered on the candidate's campaign.

Opinion 12-114 A judicial candidate may not use a photograph taken at a social event with an elected local public official who is not part of the candidate's slate and who has not endorsed the candidate, unless the official consents to use of the photograph in the judicial candidate's campaign.

Opinion 12-97 A judge or non-judge candidate for election to town or village justice may fully participate as a candidate in a local bar association's screening process, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial campaign speech. Thereafter, the judge may preside in a matter in which a member of the panel appears as an attorney, absent any disqualifying factor and assuming the judge can be impartial.

Opinion 12-95(A) Unexpended campaign funds totaling less than $1,000 need not be returned to contributors on a pro rata basis but may be expended for any lawful non-political purpose connected to judicial office, such as the purchase of office supplies, computer software or books. [Note: Opinion 16-29/16-50 raises the threshold for treating unexpended campaign funds as de minimis to "$2,500 or less."]

Opinion 12-84/12-95(B)-(G) (1) A judicial candidate must not be a speaker, guest of honor, or award recipient at a politically sponsored event, unless either (a) the event is not a fund-raiser, or (b) the candidate's participation is unannounced prior to the event. (2) To the extent legally permissible, a judicial candidate may use campaign funds to attend bar association functions or other events that are not hosted by political organizations throughout his/her window period, provided that his/her attendance is in furtherance of his/her campaign for judicial office and the candidate determines that he/she will receive fair value for the expenditure. (3) A judicial candidate may list the name of a sitting judge as a reference for a political party's screening panel but must not ask a sitting judge to write the panel directly on the candidate's behalf. (4) A judicial candidate may permit other individuals to attend his/her fund-raiser without charge, regardless of whether such individuals are currently seeking election to public office. (5) A judicial candidate may include a link from his/her campaign website to a political organization's website which contains information promoting the judicial candidate's campaign.

Opinion 11-146 May a judge make a political contribution to a presidential candidate or to a congressional candidate outside of New York State?

Opinion 11-65 To avoid any appearance of undue pressure, a town justice should not ask individual court officers of the town court to publicly support his/her re-election.

Opinion 10-101/11-01 (1) A candidate for Supreme Court may use his/her own campaign funds to pay for campaign literature or mailings in which the judicial candidate will ask voters to vote in a primary election for the judicial convention delegates who will support his/her nomination, but the candidate must make clear that his/her endorsement of the delegate candidates is for the purpose of furthering his/her own candidacy. (2) In such campaign literature or mailings, the Supreme Court candidate may announce and comment on the fact that particular delegate candidates have pledged to support him/her but should not further describe or comment on the delegate candidates’ views or stances on issues. (3) A Supreme Court candidate may not make campaign contributions to a delegate candidate’s campaign and may not pay for the delegate candidates’ own advertisements. (4) A Supreme Court candidate may circulate petitions containing only the names of the delegate candidates who will support his/her nomination, and no other names, but must make clear that his/her endorsement of such delegates is for the purpose of furthering his/her own candidacy. (5) All such campaign activities are ethically permissible only to the extent that they are legally permitted and otherwise performed in compliance with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 10-95 A non-judge candidate for judicial office may continue to offer an online software tool and online legal commentaries for sale to the public during the course of his/her campaign and, if his/her campaign is successful, after assuming the bench. However, as a full-time judge, he/she must refrain from direct involvement with marketing, sales, billing, collections and accounting practices.

Opinion 10-80 Although a candidate for elective judicial office may not use campaign funds to make civic or charitable donations, the candidate may, during his/her window period, promote his/her candidacy by sponsoring a local softball team.

Opinion 10-11 May a judge who announces their intent to seek higher judicial office administer the oath of office to officers of a political club or committee at a political function?

Opinion 09-194 When a candidate for Supreme Court Justice formally withdraws his/her name from consideration before the judicial nominating convention takes place, his/her Window Period ends six months from the date of his/her withdrawal or six months from the date of the nominating convention, whichever is earlier.

Opinion 09-176 Two judicial candidates may display campaign lawn signs that have both candidates names printed on them, but they may not send voters one letter conveying both candidates’ qualifications and bearing both candidates’ signatures that is printed on letterhead comprising both candidates’ names.

Opinion 09-162 If an independent judicial qualifications commission issues only one of two ratings - “qualified” or “not qualified” - a judicial candidate may not state that he/she has received the “highest” or “best” rating from the commission. A judicial candidate may comment about his/her opponent’s rating by an independent judicial qualifications commission as long as his/her comments are accurate and not misleading.

Opinion 09-148 May a judge, during his/her window period, circulate nominating petitions seeking signatures for other candidates if those other petitions do not include the judge’s name?

Opinion 09-40 A judge may apply to a political party's judicial screening panel to determine his/her qualifications for a particular judicial office at a time when there are no actual, known vacancies for such office provided (1) there is a good-faith reason to believe there will be a vacancy later in the same election cycle; (2) the judicial screening panel process is available to all potential candidates; and, (3) the panel is an official screening panel, such as a standing panel of an existing political party.

Opinion 05-101 It is not unethical for a judge running for election (1) to be depicted in campaign materials wearing judicial robes; (2) to use photographs of the candidate (a) taken in any public place to which members of the general public have access for the taking of photographs; or (b) taken in chambers or the court library, provided that there is no indication of the official nature of such locations and that administrative permission has been obtained.

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Testing the Waters; Seeking Non-Judicial Office; Seeking Appointive Judicial Office; State Constitutional Conventions

Opinion 21-127 Provided that the judge's interest in seeking elective nonjudicial office is not announced in advance, a judge need not resign from judicial office before attending a political party's caucus to nominate candidates and allowing eligible party members to vote on whether to nominate the judge for that office.  If the judge receives the nomination, the judge must immediately resign from judicial office.

Opinion 21-102 Must a part-time judge resign from both part-time judicial positions they currently hold, on announcing their candidacy for an elective non-judicial position?

Opinion 21-64 A sitting judge may reach out to individuals in the judge’s community who may have appropriate contacts, so that the judge may use those contacts to reveal, discuss and explore the judge’s qualifications and interest in appointive judicial office with the appointing authority, political party leaders, and relevant elected officials. However, the judge may not compensate such individuals for their time or assistance with the appointment process.

Opinion 21-50 A judge who authorizes or knowingly permits their name to appear on a publicly circulated nominating petition as a candidate for nonjudicial office is a "candidate" under the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and thus must resign from judicial office. If the judge does not wish their name to appear on the nominating petitions, the judge must object in writing to the appropriate political party leaders.

Opinion 17-43 A part-time judge who wishes to run for non-judicial office may inform the local municipality in advance that he/she plans to resign from judicial office on a particular date, but must not disclose the reason for his/her resignation.

Opinion 16-94 (1) The Rules do not preclude a part-time judge from running for and serving as delegate to a state constitutional convention, provided governing law permits him/her to do so. ... (4) As no constitutional convention has been approved or scheduled at this time, questions concerning permissible campaign activities for a judge who wishes to become a constitutional delegate are hypothetical and premature.

Opinion 15-176 A judge may reveal, discuss and explore his/her interest in receiving an interim appointment to non-judicial office with the public official who will make that decision if the position becomes vacant.

Opinion 11-22 A judge who was previously elected to a board of commissioners for a fire district in a public election may not run for re-election to this non-judicial office and may not serve out the remaining years of his/her term where the fire commissioners’ primary function is to submit the fire company’s budget for public hearing, modification and approval.

Opinion 10-207 May a judge run for commissioner of a local fire district?

Opinion 09-126 A judge may not resign from active participation on the bench, but remain on the judicial payroll for the purpose of receiving compensation for accrued vacation time at the same time that he/she is an announced candidate for elective nonjudicial office.

Opinion 09-90 May a judge run for and serve on a local school board and the Board of Trustees of a local public library?

Opinion 09-40 A judge may apply to a political party's judicial screening panel to determine his/her qualifications for a particular judicial office at a time when there are no actual, known vacancies for such office provided (1) there is a good-faith reason to believe there will be a vacancy later in the same election cycle; (2) the judicial screening panel process is available to all potential candidates; and, (3) the panel is an official screening panel, such as a standing panel of an existing political party.

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Exercising the Right to Vote; Encouraging or Facilitating Voting By Others

Opinion 20-149 May a full-time Court-Attorney Referee answer the Governor’s call to be a poll worker, given this year’s shortage of workers as result of the global pandemic?

Opinion 20-145 A judge may drive members of a religious congregation in another state to their local polling sites, provided this effort is completely independent of any political organization or candidate and the judge avoids impermissible political activity.

Opinion 20-129 May a full-time judge be trained, and thereafter serve, as an election poll clerk?

Opinion 20-105 Under the circumstances presented, a full-time judge should not participate, in any capacity, on a bar association subcommittee tasked with addressing issues concerning the upcoming elections.

Opinion 20-81(A) A judge (1) may be enrolled in a political party, but may not otherwise be a member of a political organization.

Opinion 16-63 ... (2) A part-time attorney judge may publicly display on his/her office building a non-partisan banner stating “Your vote counts in ___ County.”  ...

Opinion 16-52 The Committee cannot comment on any legal questions. However, if controlling law permits voter registration forms to be made available at court facilities, it is ethically permissible to do so in a strictly neutral, non-partisan and informational manner, subject to any applicable legal requirements.

Opinion 09-180 A judge may attend a political party caucus held for the purpose of nominating and voting for political candidates and may vote for the candidate(s) of his/her choice even if voting is accomplished other than by secret ballot.

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SCAR Hearing Officers and Judicial Hearing Officers (JHOs)

Opinion 20-29 SCAR hearing officers are subject to the same restrictions as sitting judges with respect to political activities.

Opinion 18-09 A judicial hearing officer must not engage in political activities as long as the JHO designation has not been rescinded, even though an administrative judge has stated that the JHO will not be given any assignments in the current fiscal year.

Opinion 15-134 A full-time principal law clerk who is a part-time SCAR hearing officer (1) may not run for or serve as a delegate to a political party’s judicial nominating convention; (2) may apply for and become a notary public; and (3) may not circulate nominating petitions except during his/her window period as a candidate for election to judicial office, and then only if his/her own name - alone or with others - is on the petition.

Opinion 14-49 A judge, quasi-judicial official, or candidate for election to judicial office may not attend a not-for-profit organization’s fund-raising event, where the theme of the event, as promoted by the organization, is an exhortation for attendees to “repeal or disregard” a particular statute.

Opinion 13-144 The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit a court attorney-referee from running for and, if elected, also serving as a part-time town or village justice.

Opinion 13-133 Principal law clerks who are appointed to serve part-time as SCAR hearing officers during regular court hours as part of their job responsibilities are subject to the same restrictions as sitting judges with respect to political activities.

Opinion 09-165 (1) A Judicial Hearing Officer is prohibited from serving either as chair or counsel to an Ethics Committee for a political party. (2) A Judicial Hearing Officer who is only considering a run for political or public office, but is not yet an announced candidate in his/her Window Period may not attend political events. (3) As a private attorney, a Judicial Hearing Officer may give legal and/or ethical advice to public officers, party officials and/or political party members so long as (A) he/she is formally retained so that an attorney-client relationship exists; (B) his/her actions are clearly identifiable as those of an attorney representing a client, and not as partisan political activity; and (C) he/she is fairly compensated for his/her legal services.

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Other Activities of Judge or Quasi-Judicial Official

 

Opinion 21-185 A judge who is a community college trustee may attend a conference solely sponsored by a non-political, not-for-profit organization of college trustees, notwithstanding the conference’s designation as a national legislative summit. However, the judge must not meet with federal legislators in connection with the conference, where such meetings will be seen as lobbying efforts in support of the organization’s legislative agenda.

Opinion 21-62 A full-time judge may not offer their services to a congressperson to help establish, and thereafter serve on, a non-partisan service academy review board, which will (a) review the applications of those seeking the congressperson’s nomination to one of the service academies, and (b) make recommendations to the congressperson as to who should receive a nomination and in what order.

Opinion 20-128 On these facts, it is the obligation of the judge who wishes to be a member or leader in a not-for-profit entity to determine if it invidiously discriminates, engages in partisan political activity, or will insert the judge unnecessarily into public controversy.

Opinion 20-101 A judge may display photographs and other memorabilia of current and former elected federal officials in his/her chambers but must be mindful of the overall content, context and circumstances of the display to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Opinion 20-90 A judge may not oppose an elected federal official or candidate for non-judicial public office in an editorial opinion piece.

Opinion 20-81(A) A judge (1) may be enrolled in a political party, but may not otherwise be a member of a political organization.

Opinion 20-41 A full-time judge may not attend the annual weekend conference sponsored exclusively by the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators Inc. in Albany, New York.

Opinion 20-89 A judge may not mail congratulatory letters to a graduating high school class.

Opinion 20-87 May a judge accompany his/her spouse, who is a candidate for elective public office, to an election night event to await primary results?

Opinion 20-70 Where a not-for-profit, non-partisan town Grange engages in significant educational initiatives to promote rural interests and an appreciation of agriculture but also engages in advocacy and lobbying with local governments concerning local laws, policies and regulations, a town judge (1) may join the entity as a regular member but (2) must not assume leadership roles in the entity or otherwise publicly associate him/herself with organizational positions on controversial issues.

Opinion 20-64 May a part-time lawyer judge ... (3) as a full-time college professor, comment on ... politics?

Opinion 20-51 May a judge, as a member of a political party and without disclosing his/her judicial status, engage in political activity such as “writing to [state or federal] representatives or senators [to express] personal positions; attending meetings, rallies or events for candidates for office; volunteering for such candidates in any capacity at their office or in contact with the general public; canvassing in other states to support candidates for national office or candidates for office in those other states; [or] any similar efforts to support candidates for any political office”?

Opinion 20-33 A part-time judge may not serve concurrently as business agent for a correction officers’ union, where the role requires representing the interests of corrections officers in the legislative or political sphere.

Opinion 19-138 A judge may not participate in a conference call organized by a federal legislator to help plan an event on Capitol Hill for individuals of a particular ethnic/cultural heritage, where the program topics are legislative and political in nature.

Opinion 19-129 A judge, who is not in his/her window period for election or re-election to judicial office, may not participate in an event sponsored by a local political party in which children would meet with local judges to learn about the court system.

Opinion 19-29 A full-time judge ... may not volunteer as an escort for individuals unknown to the judge who are visiting an abortion clinic in the presence of pro-life protesters.

Opinion 18-142 May a judge be involved in the selection and appointment process for his/her co-judge, by, for example, meeting with the nonjudicial appointing authority and advisory committee to discuss prospective appointees; providing “fact-based opinions regarding” prospective appointees; and recommending or opposing specific individuals for the appointment?

Opinion 18-72 A judge may not speak about gun laws at a politically sponsored gun policy forum.

Opinion 17-179 Subject to certain conditions and limitations, a full-time judge who is the president of an ethnic bar association may participate as the bar association president in a meeting with a DA-elect's transition team on issues involving the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.

Opinion 17-174 (1) Subject to certain limitations, a judge may serve as master of ceremonies for a close personal friend's public swearing-in ceremony. 

Opinion 17-142 A town justice (1) may not directly or indirectly oppose a candidate for non-judicial public office, including by distributing handouts about the other candidate's actions or qualifications; (2) may comment on, testify about, or otherwise publicly oppose a proposal to reduce the town court to a single justice; and (3) may, as a candidate for judicial office, respond to attacks on the judge's record, so long as any such response is made truthfully and without distortion.

Opinion 17-123 A judge who presides in veterans treatment court may write to legislators asking for names of potential peer mentors to work with veteran-defendants in the program, provided the judge avoids both actual coercion and its appearance when requesting participation. Alternatively, the judge may authorize his/her resource coordinator or mentor coordinator to write such a letter.

Opinion 17-70 (1) A court attorney-referee who is an ordained rabbi may teach, preach, and write on Israel-related issues concerning the law, the legal system or the administration of justice, but not on non-legal matters of substantial public and political controversy, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (2) A court attorney-referee may join and participate in non-political events sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hiddush, which appear to have substantial non-political purposes, but may neither join nor attend events sponsored by J Street.

Opinion 17-54 When giving a speech about the law, the legal system or the administration of justice at a court-sponsored Law Day event, a judge should not publicly criticize or attack a sitting public official, or comment on his/her remarks. Rather, the judge should focus on the law to avoid casting doubt on his/her ability to perform judicial functions appropriately consistent with his/her legal and ethical duties.

Opinion 17-38 (1) A judge who wishes to participate in a high-profile, apparently non-partisan march, whose purpose is to recognize the importance of scientific endeavors and rational thought in society, must monitor the march’s agenda and publicly reported affiliations and sponsorships in the period leading up to the event. The judge must not participate in the march unless the judge determines (a) the march is not co-sponsored by or affiliated with any political organization; (b) the march does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for election; (c) the judge’s participation will not involve the judge in impermissible political activity; and (d) the judge’s participation will not insert him/her unnecessarily into public controversy. (2) A judge may not (a) call a Senate Committee to express an opinion on a pending federal executive branch appointment; (b) sign a MoveOn.org petition concerning a federal executive branch appointment, whether as a private citizen or otherwise; or (c) participate in a local political rally, march or demonstration sponsored by grassroots organizations, even if he/she would refrain from any speaking role.

Opinion 16-169 May a judge circulate a petition to force a referendum on a proposed sale of a large nearby parcel of land owned by his/her local school district, where the petition does not take a position for or against the proposed sale and is not framed as support for or opposition to any legislator or political party or candidate?

Opinion 16-149 May a judge attend a free, non-partisan “meet the candidates” event, organized by a non-political community residents’ association, where all candidates for a particular office (i.e., both parties' candidates) will attend, speak and answer questions?

Opinion 16-94 ... (2) A judge may take a public position on whether a constitutional convention should be convened in an upcoming referendum, subject to certain limitations. (3) A judge may lecture on historical constitutional conventions and procedures. ...

Opinion 16-85 A judge may not engage anonymously in otherwise prohibited political activity, such as publishing partisan political literature. The Committee cannot answer additional questions about the judge’s public expression, as they are vague, subject to multiple factual variations.

Opinion 16-60 On these facts, a judge may not join an informal discussion group with politically connected people to develop detailed proposals for redistricting reform, comprehensive election and voting reforms, restructuring the legislature, changes in school funding, and other highly controversial or political matters largely unrelated to the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.

Opinion 15-210/09-56 (1) A judge may join a local chapter of the Shooters Committee on Political Education only if, at the time of joining the entity, he/she is satisfied after reasonable inquiry that the local chapter and the national entity (a) do not align themselves with any political party, (b) do not endorse or promote any candidates for elective office, and (c) have the primary purpose of educating the public about firearm ownership, Second Amendment rights and legislation. (2) Where membership is permitted, the judge may join as a regular member, provided (a) such membership does not involve the judge in organizational litigation or publicly associate him/her with organizational positions on matters of public controversy, (b) the judge does not assume a leadership position in the organization, (c) the judge disqualifies him/herself, subject to remittal, should the organization appear in the judge’s court, and (d) the judge does not contribute to any political action committee or other political arm of the organization. (3) A judge who has joined a local chapter of SCOPE after making reasonable inquiry to ensure it is not a political organization within the meaning of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct may ordinarily rely on that initial assessment. However, if he/she becomes aware of facts suggesting that the entity has become politically active, the judge must either immediately resign or make further inquiries to assure him/herself that the local chapter and the national organization are not political organizations within the meaning of the Rules.

Opinion 15-188 (1) The Committee cannot suspend the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct or issue legal opinions interpreting the state and federal constitutions. (2) On request for reconsideration, the Committee reaffirms its prior opinions advising that a judge may not take part in certain public activities regarding redistricting.

Opinion 15-145 Although a judicial candidate may not carry or pass petitions for other candidates or request petition signatures for other candidates, he/she may, to the extent legally permitted, attest as a notary public during his/her window period that he/she witnessed signatures on petitions carried or passed by another individual.

Opinion 15-120 A judge may not join in an advertising campaign intended to lobby political support and funding for union contract renewals for his/her alma mater.

Opinion 14-85 (1) A judge may not provide a testimonial for the judge’s former campaign manager to use in advertisements, but may permit the former campaign manager to provide the judge’s name as a reference to prospective clients, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 14-49 A judge, quasi-judicial official, or candidate for election to judicial office may not attend a not-for-profit organization’s fund-raising event, where the theme of the event, as promoted by the organization, is an exhortation for attendees to “repeal or disregard” a particular statute.

Opinion 13-143 A judge who is not in his/her window period may attend a victory party for a newly elected co-judge, even though the party is separate and distinct from the co-judge’s swearing-in ceremony, provided that the party is paid for solely with personal funds.

Opinion 13-98 Under the circumstances presented, a part-time judge may accept paid employment as an assistant staff counsel to the Minority Conference of a county legislature, provided that (1) his/her actions are clearly identifiable as those of an attorney representing a client and not as partisan political activity; (2) he/she interacts directly with Minority Counsel in the performance of his/her duties, rather than with individual legislators or their constituents; and (3) he/she does not attend legislative sessions or Minority Caucuses or other political gatherings.

Opinion 13-92 A judge must not meet privately with a local political party regarding the inner workings of the court, including its procedures, personnel or decisions.

Opinion 13-22 A judge who is not in his/her window period for election may not participate in a politically sponsored sporting event in which one local political party’s team will compete against another local political party’s team, where the purpose of the event is to improve both parties’ public image.

Opinion 13-17 A judge may not sign a legislator’s petition regarding a proposed change in the law, where the petition is framed as a partisan political initiative designed to garner statements of public support for the individual legislator.

Opinion 12-169 Under certain circumstances, a judge who is not a candidate for election to judicial office within his/her window period may attend a post-election reception in honor of the judge's child.

Opinion 12-144 A judge may not comment on a judicial candidate rating system created by a political organization's district leader.

Opinion 12-124 A judge may attend a retirement party for an elected official who has announced his/her retirement and is not seeking re-election, where the event is being paid for by the retiring official's campaign funds but is not otherwise sponsored by a political organization.

Opinion 12-112 (1) May a judge be a guest of honor or honoree at a small local newspapers' non-fund raising event and accept the newspaper's Award in Political Leadership? 

Opinion 11-146 May a judge make a political contribution to a presidential candidate or to a congressional candidate outside of New York State?

Opinion 11-100 A part-time judge may be employed full-time as a news reporter, subject to certain limitations. As for subject matter, a reporter/judge may not cover cases pending or impending in the United States or its territories nor cover politically sponsored events.

Opinion 10-133 A judge may not serve on a panel that will discuss the principles of legislative redistricting and the governing law as the subjects are inherently political and highly controversial.

Opinion 10-128 A judge may not display on his/her vehicle a slogan which has been adopted by a partisan political party and is used by that party to signal discontent with certain political trends deplored by the party’s adherents.

Opinion 10-117 A judge may not sign a roster of attorneys supporting a particular candidate for judicial office and may not express an opinion to “members of the bar” or “members of the public” about the qualifications of a judicial candidate.

Opinion 10-83 (1) A judge may not participate in a candidate’s campaign for legislative office, even if the judge agrees with the candidate’s position on judicial raises. (2) A judge may, but is not required to, adopt a policy that all in-court negotiations and discussions between counsel and self-represented persons must take place in the judge’s or a court attorney’s presence.

Opinion 09-240/09-241/10-06 A judge may attend the swearing-in ceremony and post-ceremony reception for a newly-elected public official and may administer the public official's oath of office, even if the event is sponsored by the official's campaign committee or paid for by unused campaign funds, as long as the event is not a fund-raiser.

Opinion 09-218 Nothing in the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct requires a judge to comply with a charitable organization’s request that the judge refund a contribution the organization made several years ago to the judge’s re-election campaign. However, the judge may make a donation to the organization from his/her personal funds in the amount of the campaign contribution.

Opinion 09-156 A full-time city court judge (1) may participate in an informal, non-governmental civic group of individuals interested in addressing the city's quality of life, economic and social problems, subject to several considerations; and (2) may assist the group in organizing a public, non-partisan mayoral candidate forum.

Opinion 09-41 May a judge, outside their window period, attend a social event sponsored by an elected (non-judicial) official and paid for by that official’s campaign funds?

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Activities of Judge's Relatives

Opinion 20-157/20-160 A judge need not object to their spouse independently hosting a political fund-raiser for a candidate at the marital home, but the invitations must not refer to the judge and the judge must not appear or participate in the event.

Opinion 20-87 May a judge accompany his/her spouse, who is a candidate for elective public office, to an election night event to await primary results?

Opinion 19-148(B) ... (2) A judge need not prohibit his/her spouse from serving as a committee member of a political party. ....

Opinion 19-113 A judge whose first-degree relative is running for office may permit him/her to mention the judge's prior service in non-judicial office in the relative's campaign advertisements, provided there is no reference to the judge's eventual judicial title or status.

Opinion 18-174 A judge may permit his/her spouse to include factual information about the judge’s personal story in the spouse’s campaign literature, but without mention of the judge’s judicial status or title. The judge may agree to be included in a family photograph and/or family video and be identified as the candidate’s spouse in campaign literature, without reference to the judge’s judicial office and the judge does not appear in a judicial robe.

Opinion 15-134 A full-time principal law clerk who is a part-time SCAR hearing officer (1) may not run for or serve as a delegate to a political party’s judicial nominating convention; ... and (3) may not circulate nominating petitions except during his/her window period as a candidate for election to judicial office, and then only if his/her own name - alone or with others - is on the petition.

Opinion 15-62 A full-time judge need not prohibit the judge’s spouse, who is a principal in a real estate LLC, from allowing the spouse’s LLC to rent a storefront to a partisan political organization.

Opinion 17-79 A judge may appear in a family photograph with his/her first-degree relative in the relative's campaign literature, provided the judge does not wear a judicial robe and nothing in the literature identifies him/her as a judge.

Opinion 13-81 May a judge's spouse run for and hold the office of secretary for a county political party committee?

Opinion 12-169 Under certain circumstances, a judge who is not a candidate for election to judicial office within his/her window period may attend a post-election reception in honor of the judge's child.

Opinion 12-20 Must a town or village justice object to their spouse (who is also their court clerk) serving as the secretary for the local political party whose support the justice will be soon be seeking for re-election?

Opinion 10-75 May a judge permit their child to use a family photograph including the judge as part of the child’s political campaign literature?

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Activities of Court Employees

Opinion 20-141 Where a full-time judge’s personally appointed law clerk has neither a quasi-judicial title nor functions, the judge may permit the law clerk to participate in peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protests away from the courthouse during non-working hours, but must instruct the law clerk not to comment publicly on a pending or impending case by carrying signs calling for the arrest or prosecution of certain police officers in another state.

Opinion 19-132 May a full-time judge permit his/her personally appointed law clerk to 1) display a political candidate's yard sign on his/her solely or jointly owned property, 2) wear clothing featuring political messages away from the courthouse during non-working hours, 3) distribute political literature door-to-door or at a booth at a community function, away from the court house during non-working hours, and 4) "like" or "follow" pages of political campaigns and political organizations on social media?

Opinion 15-134 A full-time principal law clerk who is a part-time SCAR hearing officer (1) may not run for or serve as a delegate to a political party’s judicial nominating convention; (2) may apply for and become a notary public; and (3) may not circulate nominating petitions except during his/her window period as a candidate for election to judicial office, and then only if his/her own name - alone or with others - is on the petition.

Opinion 13-133 Principal law clerks who are appointed to serve part-time as SCAR hearing officers during regular court hours as part of their job responsibilities are subject to the same restrictions as sitting judges with respect to political activities.

Opinion 12-71 An administrative judge, whose law clerk does not have a quasi-judicial title nor functions, may permit that law clerk to engage in political activity, subject to the applicable Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and Part 50 of the Rules of the Chief Judge governing the political activities of non-judicial employees. The judge should instruct his/her law clerk not to create the impression that the judge is engaged in political activities and should advise him/her that political activities are not permitted in the courthouse or during the law clerk's working hours.

Opinion 12-20 Must a town or village justice object to their spouse (who is also their court clerk) serving as the secretary for the local political party whose support the justice will be soon be seeking for re-election?

Opinion 11-90 May a judge permit their Principal Law Clerk to run for and serve as a Trustee for a village which is a part-time, paid elected position?

Opinion 10-116 A town judge may permit the town court clerk to serve as a town election inspector/poll manager, even if the judge’s name appears on the ballot, but should instruct the town court clerk that he/she may not engage in any political activities in court facilities or on court time and that the court clerk must make clear that his/her political activities have nothing to do with the judge or the court.

Opinion 10-76 A judge’s law clerk who is not a candidate for election to public office and who already has made $500 in political contributions during a calendar year may not purchase additional tickets to political functions held during the same calendar year even if the amount the law clerk pays for a ticket equals the actual cost of his/her attendance only and does not include a contribution to a political campaign or other partisan political activity.

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Activities of Judge's Employer, Partners or Associates

Opinion 20-65 A part-time non-attorney judge may continue employment in a law firm while an attorney colleague is seeking election to public office, provided the judge is not directly or indirectly involved in the attorney’s political campaign and is insulated from matters that either are, or appear to be, of a political nature.

Opinion 10-143 Where a part-time lawyer judge is a minority owner of their law firm, what is the judge's obligation if the majority partners of the firm wish to display a political sign supporting a candidate running for election to public office?

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Activities of Political Parties or Other Candidates; Duty to Object

Opinion 19-129 A judge, who is not in his/her window period for election or re-election to judicial office, may not participate in an event sponsored by a local political party in which children would meet with local judges to learn about the court system.

Opinion 19-83 May a sitting judge authorize a candidate for non-judicial office to use a photograph of the two together, taken before the judge assumed the bench, for use in the candidate’s election campaign literature and keycards?

Opinion 18-108 A sitting judge may permit a political party to include his/her name and likeness on a web page that merely lists elected officials who are registered members of the party, but must advise the party not to include any political commentary on this web page, including statements of the party’s principles, political slogans, or solicitations for funds or volunteers.

Opinion 15-177 Where a judge has objected to an event that was organized in the judge's name without the judge's authorization, and the event has been canceled at the judge's request, must the judge take any further action?

Opinion 15-65 A judge has no affirmative duty to object to an unauthorized, anonymous, partisan political use of a letter he/she wrote decades ago in the former capacity of a non-judicial official. However, the judge may do so in the judge’s sole discretion.

Opinion 14-130 When a candidate’s fund-raising publication uses a photograph that includes a judge’s image, and the related verbiage does not imply the judge is endorsing or soliciting funds for the candidate, the judge does not have an affirmative obligation to object, but may do so

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