NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONProfessional
Ethics Committee Opinion
Opinion #30 - 05/20/1966
Topic: Conflict of Interest; Political Activity of Judges
Digest: Improper for judge not to resign before becoming a candidate
for non-judicial office
Canon: Judicial Canon 30
Should Canon 30 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics be amended to permit
a part-time judicial officer to run for non-judicial office and retain
his judicial office at the same time?
On the premise that advancement in the public service may be denied
to young men who may not retain minor judicial office and at the same
time run for political non-judicial office, this inquiry has been
directed to possible modification of Canon 30 of the Canons of Judicial
Ethics. The present text of the Canon is:
"30. Candidacy for Office
"A candidate for judicial position should not make or suffer others
to make for him promises of conduct in office which appeal to the
cupidity or prejudices of the appointing or electing power; he should
not announce in advance his conclusions of law on disputed issues to
secure class support, and he should do nothing while a candidate to
create the impression that if chosen he will administer his office with
bias, partiality or improper discrimination.
"While holding a judicial position he should not become an active
candidate either at a party primary or at a general election for any
office other than a judicial office. If a judge should decide to become
a candidate for any office not judicial, he should resign in order that
it cannot be said that he is using the power or prestige of his judicial
position to promote his own candidacy or the success of his party.
"If a judge becomes a candidate for any judicial office, he should
refrain from all conduct which might tend to arouse reasonable suspicion
that he is using the power or prestige of his judicial position to
promote his candidacy or the success of his party.
"He should not permit others to do anything in behalf of his
candidacy which would reasonably lead to such suspicion."
It is also urged that minor judicial offices are part-time, poorly
paid, and so limited geographically and in jurisdiction, as to involve
neither large numbers of the electorate nor issues of popular
In Matter of Furey, 17 AD 2d 983, Canon 30 has recently been
construed adversely to one who sought to retain the office of Village
Police Justice while engaging in a campaign to promote his candidacy for
the non-judicial office of Assemblyman.
The Committee recommends no modification of the Canon. This
Committee believes that the Canon as presently drawn defines that
conduct best calculated to advance the interests of justice and public
confidence in its administration.
This Committee believes that the appearance of justice may often be
as important as justice itself, and that the prohibition called in
question is a salutary one, not to be abandoned.
The Committee believes that the canon dictating resignation from
judicial office in order to run for non-judicial office is in the end
but an acknowledgement of that course of conduct which would be adopted
by the thoughtful lawyers under such circumstances, even if that canon
This Committee can formulate no better statement of its opinion than
is to be found in the words of the canon itself, "If a judge should
decide to become a candidate for any office not judicial, he should
resign in order that it cannot be said that he is using the power or
prestige of his judicial position to promote his candidacy or the
success of his party."