May 4, 2000
A judge, who is the president of the board of directors of a public library,
may attend but is prohibited from chairing or sitting on the dais or otherwise
participating in public meetings seeking support for a bond proposition
to expand the library.
22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3); 100.4(b)(i).
Opinion 95-02 (Vol. XIII).
A part-time judge, who is also the president of the board of directors of a public library, inquires whether it would be permissible to chair public meetings seeking support for a bond proposition to expand the library.
The library's annual budget is provided by an ad valorem tax and private resources and is subject to yearly approval by the voters on election day. The board of directors is proposing an expansion of the library, which will require voter approval in order to obtain the issuance of bonds through the New York State Dormitory Authority.
Section 100.4(C)(3) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct permits a judge to participate in civic activities of the kind present herein. However, section 4(C)(3)(b)(i) prohibits a judge from personally participating in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities. The judge's proposed activity of chairing public meetings or hearings is, in our opinion, a fund-raising activity prohibited by the Rule. The Committee has previously advised that a judge serving on the board of trustees of a public library was prohibited from contacting members of the legislature in order to encourage them to appropriate funds for the library. Opinion 95-02 (Vol. XIII). Similarly, in the present situation, the judge would be encouraging the public to vote for the appropriation of funds for the expansion of the library, and such encouragement would, in our view, constitute a prohibited activity.