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Answer Key for the Judicial Ethics Quiz

1. True/False: At a friend’s or former law clerk’s request, a judge may write a letter of recommendation on his/her official judicial letterhead for use as part of an application for employment.

Answer: True, but the letter should be marked “personal and unofficial,” must stick to the facts, and must not appear to pressure the prospective employer to take any particular action. See generally Opinion 06-156 (outlining prior opinions).

2. True/False: A full-time judge may act in a community theater.

Answer: True, if the theater is a not-for-profit organization. See Opinion 00-24.

3. True/False: A full-time judge may accept reasonable compensation for teaching a business law course at a private university.

Answer: True, as long as the compensation does not exceed what a non-judge would receive for the same activity. See Opinion 92-05; 22 NYCRR 100.4(H).

4. True/False: A judge may give a seminar to police officers who act as prosecutors in certain traffic cases on how to prosecute such cases successfully.

Answer: False. See Opinion 98-73.

5. True/False: A judge may teach a Vehicle and Traffic Law class at a local community college to aspiring police officers.

Answer: True, but the judge must be careful to avoid commenting on pending or impending cases or manifesting a predisposition to decide such cases in a certain way. See Opinion 06-15.

6. True/False: A judge may comment on a case pending in another state, if the judge restricts his/her discussion to facts that have been reported by the media.

Answer: False; the restriction applies to any pending or impending matter in the United States or its territories. 22 NYCRR 100.3(B)(8).

7. True/False: A judge may lecture on recent Court of Appeals criminal law decisions at a Continuing Legal Education program sponsored jointly by the local Criminal Bar Association and Legal Aid Society.

Answer: True, subject to certain caveats. See Opinion 04-13.

8. True/False: Judges must disclose their reasons for recusal.

Answer: False, although judges are encouraged to reveal their reasons because it helps “promote the public's confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” See Opinion 07-102.

9. True/False: A judge must recuse him/herself when a lawyer appearing before the judge had previously testified during a disciplinary proceeding as a witness for the judge.

Answer: True. See Opinion 07-73.

10. True/False: A judge must report an attorney’s or another judge’s apparent misconduct to appropriate disciplinary authorities if the judge believes the conduct constitutes a “substantial violation” of the Code of Professional Responsibility or the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Answer: False. A judge who receives information indicating a “substantial likelihood” that another judge or a lawyer has committed a “substantial violation” of the disciplinary rules must take “appropriate action.” 22 NYCRR 100.3(D)(1)-(2). In some circumstances, where “the conduct alleged, if true, calls into question the judge's fitness to hold office,” or (in the case of an attorney) “implicates the attorney's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer,” such “appropriate action” will involve reporting the misconduct. See Joint Opinion 05-105, 05-108, and 05-109; see also, e.g., Opinion 03-59; Opinion 92-42.

11. True/False: If a judge reports misconduct of an attorney to a Grievance Committee, (s)he should exercise recusal in all matters where the attorney appears before the judge while the complaint is pending before the Grievance Committee, but should not disclose the reasons for recusal.

Answer: True. See Opinion 07-57.

12. True/False: Judges may avoid recusals due to their financial holdings by not staying informed about their finances.

Answer: False. See 22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(2); 100.4(D)(4).

13. True/False: A judge who was previously in private practice must recuse him/herself for two years from any matter brought by his/her firm, even if (s)he was not personally involved in the matter.

Answer: True, subject to remittal. See Opinion 99-72.

14. True/False: A judge may testify as a character witness before a sentencing court, grievance committee or the Commission on Judicial Conduct only pursuant to a subpoena.

Answer: True. “A judge shall not testify voluntarily as a character witness.” 22 NYCRR 100.2(C).



0-6: It’s time to update your knowledge of judicial ethics. Click Training Program Dates for information about upcoming programs.

7-12: Well done. Just be sure to stay on top of the latest developments by reading the ACJE opinions as they are made available.

13-14: Keep up the great work. And don't forget to contact the ACJE if you have specific questions about your own prospective conduct as a judge or quasi-judicial official.


How to keep up with the latest ACJE opinions

Most new ACJE opinions are distributed to sitting judges by broadcast email and are also sent to the Buffalo Law Journal, the New York Daily Record, and the New York Law Journal for publication. In addition, all published opinions are made available on the ACJE website, and may be searched electronically by selecting "Search ACJE Opinions" from the left-hand menu.