Opinion: 01-57

April 19, 2001

Digest:  A Family Court judge may be honored at a reception hosted by the county Mediation Center, a non-profit agency, provided that the event is not a fund-raiser.

Rule:  22 NYCRR 100.4(A)(1); 100.4(C);
100.4(C)(3)(b)(i), (iv).


            A Family Court judge presents two situations concerning the Mediation Center of the judge's county. The Mediation Center, a non-profit agency, to which the Family Court makes referrals, assists litigants in resolving their cases. The organization is hosting a reception in honor of the judge, the local director of the Office of Probation and Community Correction, and its volunteer mediators for their support of alternate dispute resolution. The event is not a fund-raiser and there is no charge for the event.

            The Committee sees no ethical barrier to the judge's participation. The event is not a fund-raiser, nor can it be said that being recognized by the organization would in any way "cast reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially as a judge." 22 NYCRR 100.4(A)(1).

            The judge also reports that he/she has learned that the organization has made a donation in the judge's honor to the Children's Home of [name of municipality], a non-profit agency which provides foster care for children. While we generally do not issue opinions concerning past conduct of a judge, we do note that the judge was not consulted as to the propriety of making such a donation, and that there was no solicitation or suggestion by the judge whatsoever, that such a donation should be made. Such conduct would, of course, be barred under section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i), (iv) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.