Ethics Opinion 158

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK STAE BAR ASSOCIATION
Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #158 – 10/09/1970 (35-70)

Topic: Can a Judge Own an Interest in an Entity that Sells Liquors at Retail or at a Bar?
Digest: A judge may own such an interest if it is legal and the nature of such interest does not detract from the dignity of his position
Code:  EC 8-8; EC 9-2; DR 8-101(A); DR 9-101

QUESTION

The State Liquor Authority in interpreting Section 128 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, excludes judges from holding an interest in an entity that sells alcoholic beverages.Is it unethical for a judge to have an interest as stockholder or otherwise in a corporation holding a retail on premises license to sell liquors and wines?

OPINION

It would be unethical for a judge to hold such an interest if it is illegal, or if the nature of his interest or the nature or reputation of the establishment where the beverages are sold are such as to detract from the dignity of his position, or if there is any possibility of a conflict. Otherwise, such ownership would not be unethical.

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