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Campaign Participation: In-Court Negotiations

NYS Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics

Campaign Participation

In-Court Negotiations
Opinion 10-83

Background: The inquiring judge sent two unrelated questions for consideration. The first involved the judge’s interest in helping candidates for legislative office by assisting the candidates with their nominating petitions. Specifically, the judge would like to organize petition routes, supervise the petitioning process, carry petitions, recruit people to carry petitions and organize with other judges to assist in the petitioning process in any permissible way. The second issue brought before the committee involved pro se litigants being “abused” and taken advantage of during negotiations with other attorneys.

Ruling: (1) A judge may not participate in a candidate’s campaign for legislative office, even if the judge agrees with the candidate’s position on judicial raises. (2) A judge may, but is not required to, adopt a policy that all in-court negotiations and discussion between counsel and self-represented persons must take place in the judge’s or a court attorney’s presence.