December 13, 2001
On the facts presented, a judge may allow a private educational institution
the judge's name, without judicial designation, in a solicitation letter to prospective contributors to a "matching grant" scholarship fund established in the name of judge's deceased child.
22 NYCRR 100.2(C); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i), (iv); Opinion 95-54 (Vol. XIII).
Prior to attaining judicial office, a judge had established a charitable foundation in honor of the judge's deceased child to raise scholarship funds for students pursuing a particular field of study. Because the judge can no longer engage in fund-raising activities, the foundation officers (the judge and the judge's family members), contemplate donating the remaining foundation funds to a private educational institution to establish a "matching grant" scholarship fund and terminating the foundation. The judge asks whether it is ethically permissible for the private educational institution to include the judge's name, without any judicial designation, in a solicitation letter to prospective contributors to the scholarship fund. The judge would be identified as the deceased child's parent and/or as an alumnus of the educational institution. The prospective contributors will include alumni of the school the judge attended as well as the judge's friends, relatives, and former contributors to the foundation.
A judge is prohibited from personally participating in the solicitation
of funds or other fund-raising activities (22 NYCRR 100.4[C][b][i],
[iv]), and from lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the
private interests of others. 22 NYCRR 100.2(C). The Committee does not
believe that the use of the judge's name under the circumstances stated
by the inquirer would violate these prohibitions. A third party will make
the solicitation and it will not include any judicial designation. Rather,
the judge will be identified only as the parent of the judge's deceased
child or as an alumnus of an educational institution.
There is, therefore, no personal participation by the judge in the solicitation
of funds. We note that in Opinion 95-54 (Vol. XIII) the Committee stated
that a law school scholarship could be named for a judge since the funds
solicited would not be sought in the name of the judge. Given the facts
described by the inquiring judge, the Committee believes that the judge
may allow the private educational institution to include the judge's name;
without judicial title in a solicitation letter to prospective contributors
to a "matching grant" scholarship fund, identifying the child, as the child
as of the judge, who is an alumnus of the institution.