Check your answers below and scroll all the way down for your score.
1. Yes/No: May a judicial candidate attend "virtual" political fund-raising events during their window period?
Answer: Yes, subject to the usual limitations on price and number of tickets, provided they attend and appear on screen along with other attendees. As noted in the opinion, "we believe attendance at a virtual fund-raiser will likewise provide exposure for the candidate’s campaign, as long as the candidate is shown on screen along with the other attendees." See Opinion 20-111.
2. Yes/No: May a part-time lawyer judge handle criminal and traffic defense matters as an attorney in the same county, given that the prosecutors in those cases may also appear in his/her court?
Answer: Yes, although they must not practice before another part-time lawyer judge and must not handle any matters that originated in their own court. As we noted in the opinion, "It is a common practice for justices who are permitted to practice law to be adversarial in their private practices against district attorney’s offices, whether it be in local courts presided over by non-attorney justices, county courts, supreme courts or appellate courts, and such practice clearly is permitted without the attorney-justice having to recuse himself or herself from presiding over matters involving the District Attorney’s Office in his or her own jurisdiction." See Opinion 20-48.
3. Yes/No: May a judge or quasi-judicial official set up an email auto-response to provide (1) general legal information identifying which units or departments litigants and attorneys may contact with specific issues, along with their contact information and (2) general information about judicial ethics, such as the limitations on ex parte communications?
Answer: Yes, provided the message is consistent with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. See Opinion 20-80.
4. Yes/No: May a judge serve on a local police reform committee formed in response to the Governor's Executive Order 203?
5. Yes/No: May a judge continue to preside over a criminal matter after the defendant files a federal lawsuit against him/her, the arresting police officer, and others? May the judge preside over other matters in which the police officer appears?
Answer: Yes, provided the judge can be fair and impartial. As we noted, a rule requiring "automatic recusal … could enable unsuccessful or disgruntled litigants to engage in judge shopping." See Opinion 20-61.
6. Yes/No: May a judge serve on the board of a not-for-profit arts foundation that reviews grant applications and awards grants to promote performing arts?
Answer: Yes, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct. See Opinion 20-47.
7. Select One: May a town justice preside over a bench trial, where a town board member who votes on the judge's salary is a necessary witness whose credibility the judge must evaluate? Your choices are:
(a) Yes, because the town board member is only a witness, and not a party.
(b) Yes, provided the judge fully discloses the relationship.
(c) No, the judge is always disqualified and remittal is not available.
(d) No, the judge is disqualified, but the disqualification is subject to remittal.
Answer: (d). See Opinion 16-21.
8. Yes/No: May a judge serve as a character reference for a court intern who has applied for a pistol permit?
Answer: No. A judge must not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of another or voluntarily testify as a character witness. See Opinion 16-18.
9. Yes/No: May a judge who presides over a re-adoption proceeding involving an attorney (who is otherwise an "acquaintance" per 11-125) thereafter preside in matters involving the attorney and/or his/her law firm?
Answer: Yes, provided the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial. Disclosure is not required. See Opinion 15-228.
10. Yes/No: May a judge teach a law school course based on a now-concluded homicide trial in his/her jurisdiction, after the time for appeals is exhausted and no related matters are pending or reasonably foreseeable?
Answer: Yes if the time for appeals is exhausted and no related matters are pending or reasonably foreseeable. In teaching the class, the judge may only use materials from the public record. See Opinion 20-31.
0-6: It's time to update your knowledge of judicial ethics. Click "Education Programs" for information about upcoming programs.
7-8: Well done. Just be sure to stay on top of the latest developments by reading the Committee's opinions as they are made available.
9-10: Keep up the great work. And don't forget to contact the Advisory Committee if you have specific questions about your own prospective conduct as a judge or quasi-judicial official.
How to keep up with the latest Advisory Committee opinions
Most new opinions are distributed to sitting judges by broadcast email and are also sent to the Buffalo Law Journal, the New York Daily Record, the New York Law Journal and/or The Magistrate. Once they are broadcast, new opinions are also listed on the "Recently Broadcast Opinions" page. In addition, all published opinions are made available on our website, and may be searched electronically by selecting "Search Opinions" from the left-hand menu.