In a new opinion, the New York Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics stated that judges may permit their law clerks to participate in peaceful Black Lives Matter protests away from the courthouse during non-working hours. New York Opinion 2020-141. However, the opinion advised the judges to instruct their clerks not to carry signs calling for the arrest or prosecution of police officers involved in a specific shooting and not to remain with any protestors engaging in vandalism or violence. The advice applied only to law clerks personally appointed by the judges who do not have quasi-judicial titles or functions.
The Center for Judicial Ethics has compiled and posted on its website summaries of judicial ethics advisory opinions about judges and staff participating in marches, demonstrations, vigils, protests, rallies, and other issue-related community events. Also, please watch the CJE’s inaugural CourtClass Ethics-in-Brief tutorial on judges and court employees participating in marches and demonstrations.