April 19, 2001
Under the circumstances presented, a judge may be the guest of honor at
a golf outing, which is a fund-raising event sponsored by the Lawyer Assistance
Foundation of a county bar association.
22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(ii), (iv);
Opinions 99-19 (Vol. XVII);
98-50 (Vol. XVI); 98-38 (Vol. XVI).
A judge inquires whether he or she may be the honoree at a fund-raising golf tournament sponsored by a Lawyer Assistance Foundation, a non-profit corporation organized under the auspices of a county bar association for the purpose of providing "relief, aid and assistance to members of the legal profession and their families who may be ill, incapacitated, indigent superannuated, or are otherwise in need of aid . . ." In this instance, such aid would include attorneys with substance abuse problems. An informational advertisement in a county lawyers' journal names the judge as the guest of honor.
Section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(ii) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct states
(22 NYCRR 100.4[C][b][ii]):
. . .(b) A judge as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor, or a member or otherwise:
(ii) may not be a speaker or the guest of honor at an organization's fund-raising events, but the judge may attend such events. Nothing in this subparagraph shall prohibit a judge from being a speaker or guest of honor at a court employee organization, bar association or law school function or from accepting at another organization's fund-raising event an unadvertised award ancillary to such event.
Thus, the Rules specifically permit a judge to be an honoree at a bar association function that is a fund-raiser. Here, although technically not a bar association itself, the foundation is, for all its intents and purposes, the alter ego of the bar association; and applying the "rules of reason" mandate of the Preamble to the Rules, we are of the view that the judge is the intended guest of honor at a bar association function. Further, the purpose of the event appears to fall readily within a range of normal bar association programs related to the administration of justice and the legal system. See generally Opinions 98-50 (Vol. XVI); 98-38 (Vol. XVI). Moreover, we note that nothing in the advertisement could remotely be construed as a solicitation by the judge, or as constituting a use of the judge's name for such purpose. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(iv); see e.g., Opinion 99-19 (Vol. XVII). Accordingly, we are of the opinion that the judge may be the guest of honor at this bar association fund-raising function.