Informal Inquiries: By Telephone
FAQs: What should I include in my inquiry? | What happened with my inquiry? | Accessing Prior Opinions
The Advisory Committee can only respond to inquiries from New York State judges and others subject to Part 100 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts (22 NYCRR part 100), about the propriety of their own conduct under the Rules.
Formal Written Inquiries
Judiciary Law §212(2)(l) provides that any action a judge takes in accordance with a formal written advisory opinion of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics is "presumed proper" for purposes of any subsequent investigation by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Inquiries must relate to your own conduct under Part 100. Please include two telephone numbers in case the Committee needs to contact you.
Formal inquiries may now be sent either by mail to:
Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics
c/o Laura L. Smith, Esq., Chief Counsel
25 Beaver Street, 8th floor
New York, NY 10004
Tel: 1-866-79-JUDGE (or 1-866-795-8343)
or by email to:
Note: If you are at or near the deadline for a meeting, please call 866-795-8343 and speak with a Co-Chair or the Chief Counsel.
- Provide all necessary context. Be concrete, rather than abstract, wherever possible. The Committee cannot address hypothetical questions.
- Frame your inquiry in terms of your own proposed conduct (for example, "May I do such-and-such?" or "Must I do such-and-such?").
- Our email is email@example.com, because we interpret Part 100 (the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct). Unless you have a question about your election campaign, please do not send inquiries to any other email address, as it may be misdirected or overlooked.
- Please include two telephone numbers so we can clarify facts or circumstances as needed.
- If not otherwise fully indicated on your letterhead or the signature block of your email, please be sure to identify:
- your judicial title and the court in which you preside and
- your preferred mailing address.
- Please try to keep your entire submission to five pages or less. It is not necessary to include legal arguments or analysis of the Committee's prior opinions.
- If you would like the Committee to consider information from an organization's website, please quote the specific language or information you would like the Committee to consider. The Committee cannot review entire websites.
- Written inquiries must be typed. (A town or village justice who submits the short OJCS-provided form after a training program will be treated as requesting informal discussion and guidance by telephone.)
- We cannot provide an "informal" written response by email. All inquiries must be decided by the Committee at an upcoming meeting (see Timing Guidelines below).
Absent a demonstration of truly urgent and exigent circumstances, any inquiry that is not received at least 13 days before a scheduled meeting will automatically be deferred for consideration at the next regularly scheduled meeting. (See the table in the Timing Guidelines section below for the date by which inquiries must be received for each meeting date.) This policy has become necessary in light of the large number of inquiries the Committee typically receives, as well as an increasing number of last-minute inquiries.
The Committee makes every effort to consider and decide each written inquiry at the next regularly scheduled meeting, as long as the inquiry is received at least 13 days before a scheduled meeting date.
Inquiries Must Be Received By...
October 26, 2023
December 14, 2023
February 1, 2024
March 14, 2024
May 9, 2024
June 20, 2024
September 12, 2024
We realize that some inquirers need an expedited response. If your inquiry is time-sensitive, please let us know so that we can do our best to give it appropriate priority in our discussions.
- If you need an expedited response from the Committee, please explain in your inquiry why it is time-sensitive.
- You may call a Co-Chair or the Chief Counsel after the meeting to find out the disposition of your inquiry.
- If you are running for judicial office, you may obtain expedited consideration for your campaign-related questions simply by contacting the Judicial Campaign Ethics Center, which is set up to provide expedited written responses to judicial candidates.
Informal Guidance by Telephone
Those subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct may call 1-866-795-8343 for informal guidance. Inquirers may also call Laura L. Smith, Esq. (Chief Counsel) at 1-212-428-2504, either of the Co-Chairs; and other Committee members or other staff counsel for assistance.
We encourage you to call us, and we actively welcome these phone calls so that we can assist you. However, it is best for you to speak with us directly; please do not delegate this function to support staff or others. Unless your inquiry is unambiguously covered by a specific rule and one or more prior opinions, significant facts and circumstances may come to light only when we discuss an inquiry directly with the inquiring judge.
Although informal guidance and discussions by telephone can often be very helpful to the inquiring judge, please note that such discussions do not provide the protections of Judiciary Law §212(2)(l).
Once the Committee meets and decides your inquiry, you may call us at 1-866-795-8343 to learn the disposition immediately by telephone.
A formal written opinion will follow in due course.
Accessing Prior Opinions
The Committee's published opinions are searchable online and on Westlaw. In addition, many opinions are sent to the Buffalo Law Journal, the Magistrate, the New York Daily Record, and/or the New York Law Journal.
A few resources for searching:
- Search Help - Hints and suggestions for researching ethics opinions with our online search engine
- Browse Directory - Browse all ethics opinions by number (or use your web browser's search function, such as Ctrl+F, to search for a specific opinion number)
- Recently Released Opinions - Issues addressed in the past 12-18 months
- Pilot Project: Subject Matter Index - Recent opinions (2015 and later) grouped roughly by subject matter