A judge may not be permitted to discuss pending cases, but he or she is free to expatiate on his or her hairstyle, a New York state court system ethics panel has concluded. The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, in its recently released Opinion 09-37, cleared the way for judicial cooperation with the author of an article for a commercial on-line magazine “intended to be an ‘inspirational story’ about members of the judiciary who had made certain personal grooming decisions.”

An unnamed judge sought the commission’s ethical guidance on whether the judge and several colleagues could be interviewed by a friend for the article. The article would be accompanied by photographs of one or more of the subjects. None of the participating judges would be paid. The commission observed that it had previously approved, in Opinion 04-117, a judge’s participation in an article exploring the judge’s family, civic and extracurricular activities and treating only one aspect of his judicial duties — the performance of marriage ceremonies.

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