Appendix D: Agency Codes of Ethics for ALJs
A Law Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and
Independence of the Workers' Compensation Board and its Law
An independent and honorable Law Judges Bureau
is indispensable to the just adjudication of claims within
New York State's workers' compensation system. A law judge
should participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing,
and should observe, high standards of conduct so that the
integrity and independence of the Workers' Compensation Board
and its Law Judges Bureau may be preserved. The provisions
of this Code should be construed and applied to further that
A law judge shall not have any interest, financial
or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business
or transaction or professional activity or incur any obligation
of any nature, which is in substantial conflict with the proper
discharge of his duties in the public interest.
A law judge's actions and affiliations must
be above reproach, even if no actual conflict of interest
is present. Any associations that give rise to the suspicion
or perception of favoritism, self-dealing or personal private
gain by law judges may erode the public's confidence.
(A) A law judge should endeavor to pursue a
course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the
public that he or she is likely to be engaged in acts that
are in violation of his or her trust.
(B) A law judge should not by his or her conduct
give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can
improperly influence the law judge or unduly enjoy his or
her favor in the performance of the law judge's official duties,
or that he or she is affected by the kinship, rank, position
or influence of any party or person.
The adjudicatory duties of a law judge take
precedence over all his or her other activities. Adjudicative
duties include all the duties of his or her office prescribed
by the Workers' Compensation Law and the Public Officers Law
and rules pertinent thereto. In the performance of these duties,
the following standards apply:
(1) A law judge shall be faithful to the law
and maintain professional competence in it. A law judge shall
be unswayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear
(2) A law judge shall conduct hearings in an
(3) A law judge shall be patient, dignified,
and courteous to claimants, witnesses, lawyers, licensed representatives
and others with whom he or she deals in his or her official
capacity, and should require similar conduct of lawyers, licensed
representatives, Board officials, and others subject to his
or her direction and control.
(4) A law judge shall perform adjudicative
duties without bias or prejudice.
(5) A law judge shall dispose of adjudicative
matters promptly, efficiently and fairly.
(6) A law judge shall not disclose confidential
information acquired in the course of his or her official
duties nor use such information to further his or her personal
(7) A law judge shall not use or attempt to
use his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges
or exemptions for himself or herself or others.
(8) A law judge shall diligently discharge
his or her administrative responsibilities without bias or
prejudice and shall maintain professional competence in judicial
administration, and shall cooperate with other law judges,
the Supervising and Senior Law Judges, and Board officials
in the administration of Board business.
(9) A law judge shall file a registration statement
with the Office of Court Administration biennially in accordance
with Section 468-a of the Judiciary Law and the Rules of the
Chief Administrator of the Courts. No fee shall be required
from an attorney who certifies that he or she has retired
from the practice of law. For the purposes of Section 468-a
of the Judiciary Law a full-time law judge shall be deemed
"retired" from the practice of law.
Authority Cited: Code of Judicial Conduct, POL Section 74
(3)(c), (3)(d); 12 NYCRR Section 300.9; 22 NYCRR Section 100.3
(B)(4), (B)(7), (C)(1); 22 NYCRR Section 118.1(g); Judiciary
Law Section 468-a
(1) A law judge shall recuse himself or herself
on any ground a judge may be disqualified pursuant to section
fourteen of the Judiciary Law, as described herein:
(a) a law judge shall not sit as such in, or
take any part in the decision of, any claim, matter, motion
or proceeding to which he or she is a party;
(b) or in which he or she has been attorney
(c) or in which he or she is interested;
(d) or if he or she is related by consanguinity
or affinity to any party to the controversy within the sixth
degree. The degree shall be ascertained by ascending from
the law judge to the common ancestor, descending to the party,
counting a degree for each person in both lines, including
the law judge and party, and excluding the common ancestor
(i.e., the sixth degree of consanguinity shall include the
children of a law judge's second cousin).
(e) No law judge shall be disqualified in any
claim, matter, motion or proceeding in which an insurance
company is a party or is interested by reason of his or her
being a policyholder therein.
(2) A law judge shall disqualify himself or
herself in a proceeding in which the law judge has a personal
bias or prejudice or familiar relationship concerning a party
or witness, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary
facts concerning the proceeding.
(3) A law judge shall disqualify himself or
herself in a proceeding that the law judge, individually or
as a fiduciary, or his or her spouse or minor child residing
in the law judge's household, has a financial interest in
the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding,
or any other interest that could be substantially affected
by the outcome of the proceeding.
(4) A law judge shall keep informed about his
or her personal, fiduciary and beneficial economic interests,
and make a reasonable effort to keep informed about the personal
economic interests of the judge's spouse and minor children
residing in the law judge's household.
Authority Cited: Code of Judicial Conduct, Judiciary Law Section
14; WCL Section 20(3)
A Judge Shall Regulate His or Her Extra-Judicial
Activities to Minimize the Risk of Conflict with Judicial
A law judge shall conduct all of his or her
extra judicial activities so that they do not cast reasonable
doubt on the law judge's capacity to act impartially as a
judge, demean the Board's judicial office, or interfere with
the proper performance of his or her judicial duties.
(1) A law judge shall not engage in any private
employment or in a profession or business except teaching
in an institution of higher education. Such law judge may
receive the ordinary compensation for teaching a regular course
of study at any college or university if the teaching does
not conflict with the proper performance of the duties of
his or her office and is not inconsistent with the Public
(2) A law judge must obtain prior approval
from the Board Ethics Officer and the State Ethics Commission
prior to accepting a teaching position at a college or university.
(3) A law judge shall not accept a teaching
position which will impair the law judge's independence of
judgment in the exercise of his or her official duties.
(4) A law judge shall not accept a teaching
position which will require the law judge to disclose confidential
information which he or she has gained by reason of the law
judge's official position or authority.
(5) A law judge may not directly or indirectly
engage in any activity related to, or have any affiliation
with, an insurance company which is authorized to write coverage
under the Workers' Compensation Law, Disability Benefits Law,
Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law or Workers' Compensation
Act for Civil Defense Volunteers; or an insurance company
authorized to pay health service charges under the Comprehensive
Automobile Insurance Act.
(6) A law judge shall not serve as a director
or officer of a for-profit corporation or institution without,
in each case, obtaining prior approval from the State Ethics
(7) Nothing in this provision shall prohibit
a law judge from participating in the organized militia or
reserve components of the armed forces of the United States
and receiving pay and allowances for such duty.
Authority Cited: WCL Section 150; POL Section 74(3)(a), (b);
19 NYCRR Section 932.3(b), (c), (e); WCB Subject No. 410-12;
Military Law Section 210, 242
A law judge may not provide services outside
of his or her official Board duties in any way related to
the laws administered by the Chair or the Board, to any employer
group, or any employee group or union, or any attorney, physician
or hospital, or any other parties who have business with the
Board. This shall in no way preclude a law judge from participating
in or serving as a representative of an employee organization
Authority Cited: Subject No. 410-12
(1) A law judge may not accept any gift, including
money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality,
thing or promise, from anyone who has direct or indirect interest
in any matter arising under the laws administered by the Chair
or the Board, or from anyone acting on his or her behalf,
under circumstances in which it could reasonably be inferred
that the gift was intended to influence, or could reasonably
be expected to influence, the law judge in the performance
of his or her official duties or was intended as a reward
for any official action on his or her part. Except that a
law judge may accept the following:
(a) a gift from a relative, in the form of
a travel payment;
(b) a payment, fee, travel payment or other
compensation from the law judge's union for providing services
for or acting on behalf of the union;
(c) a payment or travel payment made to the
State of New York by a non-governmental source as remuneration
or honorarium for services rendered by a law judge on official
(2) A law judge may not engage in any transaction
as a representative or agent of the state with any business
entity in which the law judge has a direct or indirect financial
interest that might reasonably tend to conflict with the proper
discharge of his or her official duties.
(3) A law judge should abstain from making
personal investments in enterprises which he or she has reason
to believe may be directly involved in decisions to be made
by the law judge or which will otherwise create substantial
conflict between duties in the public interest and his or
her private interest.
(4) No law judge, nor any firm or association
of which a law judge is a member nor corporation a substantial
portion of the stock of which is owned or controlled directly
or indirectly by a law judge, shall sell goods or services
to any person, firm, corporation or association which is licensed
or whose rates are fixed by the Workers' Compensation Board.
(5) Nothing contained in this provision shall
prohibit a law judge from conducting internal research or
from discussing a matter.
(6) Nothing contained in this provision shall
prohibit a law judge from appearing before a state agency
in a representative capacity on behalf of an employee organization
in any matter where such appearance is duly authorized by
an employee organization.
(7) A law judge who is a member, associate,
retired member, of counsel to, or shareholder of any firm,
association or corporation which is appearing or rendering
services in connection with any case, proceeding, application
or other matter, shall not orally communicate, with or without
compensation, as to the merits of such case with an officer
or an employee of the agency concerned with the matter.
Authority Cited: POL Section 73 (7)(a), (7)(e), (7)(g), (12);
POL Section 74 (3)(g), (3)(i), (3)(j); 19 NYCRR Section 930.2(c)(3);
WCB Subject No. 410-12
(A) A law judge shall file an annual statement
of financial disclosure containing the information and in
the form set forth in subdivision three of section 73-a of
the Public Officers Law.
(B) A law judge must comply with all rules
and regulations pertaining to honorariums and travel reimbursements
as set forth in Title 19 NYCRR Part 930 and Workers' Compensation
Board Subject No. 410-3.2. A law judge shall obtain approval
for or report to the Chair or Executive Director in accordance
with the guidelines in Subject No. 410-3.2 whenever a law
judge receives a payment, fee or other compensation. This
includes payments made to the individual directly or to the
provider of lodging and/or transportation; and payments made
as a gratuity, award or honorarium, whether or not these services
were performed in connection with the law judge's official
duties. This does not include pay and allowances received
for militia or reserve duty.
(C) A law judge may accept the following, which
are not considered to be honorariums:
(1) a travel payment in the form of a gift
from a relative;
(2) a payment in lieu of an honorarium made
to the State or a travel payment provided by non-governmental
sources for activities related to a covered individual's official
(3) compensation in the nature of salary, wages
or fees for services for non-State related work performed
or travel payment provided by nongovernmental sources for
activities related to a law judge's teaching in an institution
of higher education;
(4) a payment, fee, travel payment or other
compensation provided to a law judge who provides services
for or acts on behalf of an employee organization certified
or recognized under article 14 of the Civil Service Law to
represent such covered individual;
(5) pay and allowances as prescribed in the
Military Law Section 210 for militia or reserve duty.
(D) A law judge shall not accept an honorarium
or travel reimbursement from an individual or an organization
(or its officers or board of directors) that:
(1) is regulated by, regularly negotiates with,
appears before the Workers' Compensation Board for anything
other than a strict administrative purpose, does business
with or has a contract with the Board or the law judge in
his or her official capacity;
(2) attempts to lobby or to influence the Board's
or the law judge's action or position on legislation, rules,
regulations or rate making;
(3) is involved with pending legal action against
the Board or the law judge in his or her official capacity;
(4) has received or applied for funds from
the Board within the one year period immediately prior to
and including the date the honorarium was to be received.
(E) A law judge must report any honorarium
or travel reimbursement from every source totaling more than
$1,000, regardless of whether approval for its receipt is
or is not required under Public Officers Law Section 73-a
and Subject No. 410-3.2.
Authority Cited: POL Section 73-a; Military Law Section 210;
19 NYCRR Section 930.2(c)(3); WCB Subject No. 410-3.2
Restrictions on Law Judges from Engaging
in Inappropriate Political Activity
(A) No law judge shall engage in any outside
activity which interferes or is in conflict with the proper
and effective discharge of such individual's official duties
(B) No law judge shall serve as an officer
of any political party or political organization.
(C) No law judge shall serve as a member of
any political party committee including political party district
leader (however designated) or member of the national committee
of a political party.
Authority Cited: 19 NYCRR Section 932.2(a), (b); 19 NYCRR
Compliance with the Code of Judicial Conduct
(A) Anyone, whether or not a lawyer, who is
an officer or employee of the Workers' Compensation Board
performing duties as a law judge, whether temporary or permanent,
full or part-time, or acting referees pursuant to Workers'
Compensation Law 150(c), shall comply with this Code.
(B) The General Counsel to the Workers' Compensation
Board shall serve as a Board Ethics Officer who shall:
(1) assist law judges who have specific questions
concerning application of this Code of Judicial Conduct;
(2) determine whether law judges are in compliance
with this Code, on a case by case basis;
(3) assess the effectiveness of this Code and
recommend changes to the Chair;
(4) take appropriate steps in cases of possible
violation of the Workers' Compensation Law, the Public Officers
Law, or this Code; and
(5) assume other related responsibilities the
Chair may wish to assign.
(C) The terms used in this Code shall be construed
in accordance with similar provisions set forth in the Code
of Judicial Conduct adopted by the New York State Bar Association
and Title 22 NYCRR Part 100.
To the extent that any provision of this Code
is inconsistent with any rule, opinion or subject number applicable
to the conduct of law judges heretofore issued by the New
York State Ethics Commission or the Workers' Compensation
Board, the rules of such Commission or Board shall prevail.
Authority Cited: WCL Section 150; WCB Subject No. 410-12