NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONCommittee on
Opinion #301 - 09/12/1973
Topic: Judicial candidates; Use of official title in campaign
Digest: Assistant District Attorney campaigning for judge may use
official title in newspaper, billboards and signs
Code: EC 7-13; Code of Judicial Conduct: Canon 7(B)(1)
May an assistant district attorney who is a candidate for judicial
office advertise in local newspapers, on billboards and other signs as
follows: "Elect Assistant District Attorney X for Judge of the Civil
It is not improper for an assistant district attorney who campaigning
for election to judicial office to publish his official title in a
dignified manner immediately preceding or following his name in
advertisements of the type described in the inquiry.
The Code of Judicial Conduct provides in Canon 7(8)(1) that "A
candidate, including an incumbent judge, for a judicial office... should
maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office..." N.Y.State 289
(1973) and N.Y.City 882 (1973), announced certain guidelines applicable
to campaigns of candidates for judicial office. Guidelines C(5) of those
"Use of Power or Prestige of Judicial Office to Promote Candidacy.
The campaign material of an incumbent judge should not arouse reasonable
suspicion that he is using the power or prestige of his judicial office
to promote his candidacy. Thus, for example, an incumbent judge should
take no judicial action which is calculated to obtain support for his
candidacy. Similarly, while a candidate's past or present position as a
judge is clearly relevant to his qualifications, an incumbent judge
takes unfair advantage of his judicial position if any campaign material
shows him in court or in his judicial robes."
Guideline D(1) provides:
"Use of Term 'Judge'. Nothing contained in these guidelines
should be construed to prohibit an incumbent judge who is a candidate
from using the word 'judge' or 'justice' (as may be appropriate) as a
title or as a description of his present office."
A prosecuting attorney, as representative of the sovereign and having
the duty to seek justice (EC 7-13), has some of the attributes of a
judge, and his position clearly is relevant to his qualifications for
judgeship. The inclusion of his title in campaign advertisements, which
in the case of a judge are sanctioned by guidelines D(1), should also be
permitted to him.
As in the case of a judge it would, of course, be grossly improper
for an assistant district attorney to use the official letterhead of the
district attorney or any letterhead containing his own official title or
o sign letters over his official title for campaign purposes.