Opinion No. 192 (1996)

QUESTION: A "for-profit" publisher of an excellent booklet dealing with substance abuse has asked a judge to write a letter on the judge's letterhead dealing with substance abuse to be included in the publication. The judge and law enforcement will be given free copies for distribution. May the judge write such a letter to be included in the booklet?

ANSWER: Yes, the judge may write a letter to be included in the booklet so long as the judge's letter cannot be interpreted as an endorsement of the booklet and the letter does not impact the appearance of impartiality on the part of the judge in the trial of related matters. Canon 2B specifically states that a judge should not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others. Further, Canon 4 permits a judge to engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice; provided that in doing so, the judge's activities must not cast doubt on the judge's capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before the Court.