May 4, 2000
(1) A judge may sponsor a Little League team and be identified as such,
provided no reference is made to the judge's judicial status. (2) A full-time
judge may act, under his or her own name, in a community theater production,
and be compensated, provided the organization is a not-for-profit entity
and no reference is made to the judge's judicial status.
22 NYCRR 100.2(C); 100.4(A); 100.4(D)(3); 100.4(H);
Opinions 96-134 (Vol. XV); 94-57 (Vol. XII); 94-19 (Vol. XII).
A full-time judge inquires whether it is permissible to be a sponsor of the judge's son's Little League team. The proposed sponsorship would include the judge's name, but no reference would be made to the judge's judicial office.
It is the opinion of this Committee that there is nothing untoward about a judge acting as a sponsor of a Little League team where, as here, such conduct could not be reasonably construed as an attempt by the judge to "lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others. 22 NYCRR 100.2(C).
The judge further inquires whether participation in community theater play productions as an actor is permissible. In our opinion, the judge may appear as an actor, under his own name, and may be compensated for such extra-judicial activity, only if the theater group is a not-for-profit organization and no attempt is made to utilize the judge's position for promotion of the organization or its' productions. 22 NYCRR 100.4(A); 100.4(H); Opinion 94-57 (Vol. XII). Our answer would be different if the theater group were a for-profit entity. In that situation the judge could not appear as an actor even if the judge was not being compensated. The difference is that in the latter circumstance the judge would be an "active participant" in a "business entity," and thus would run afoul of section 100.4(D)(3) of the Rules. 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(3); Opinions 96-134 (Vol. XV); 94-19 (Vol. XII).