October 24, 2002
Digest: A judge’s name may be included on the regular letterhead of a charitable division of a county bar association.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3); 100.4(C)(3) (b)(i); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(iv); Opinions 96-78 (Vol. XIV); 99-08 (Vol. XVII)
A judge who is a member of the advisory board of a charitable division of a county bar association, asks whether it is ethically permissible for the judge’s name, with or without judicial title, to appear on the letterhead of the division, which has been a part of the bar association for approximately ten years and provides funds for needy individuals, especially children, and for children’s organizations.
Pursuant to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, a judge may be a member or serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor of a non-profit educational, religious, charitable, cultural, fraternal or civic organization, but is prohibited from personally participating in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities on the organization’s behalf. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3), 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i). With respect to such an organization’s letterhead, section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(iv) provides as follows:
(b) A judge as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor, or a member or otherwise: . . . (iv) shall not use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising or membership solicitation, but may be listed as an officer, director or trustee of such an organization. Use of an organization’s regular letterhead for fund-raising or membership solicitation does not violate this provision, provided the letterhead lists only the judge’s name and office or other position in the organization, and, if comparable designations are listed for other persons, the judge’s judicial designation.
The Committee previously has advised that it would be improper for a judge to allow his/her name to be listed on the letterhead of a bar association committee formed specifically for the purpose of soliciting contributions for a memorial scholarship fund [Opinion 96-78 (Vol. XIV)], or on an invitation from a bar association ad hoc committee formed to invite people to participate in a fund-raising event [Opinion 99-08 (Vol. XVII]. The organization that is the subject of the present inquiry, however, is not an ad hoc entity formed solely for the purpose of soliciting funds. Rather, it has existed as part of the county bar association for approximately ten years on a continuing basis. Under these circumstances, and assuming that the letterhead is not used solely for fund-raising purposes, the Committee believes it is ethically permissible for the judge to allow his/her name to be included in the list of advisory board members on the letterhead. The judge’s judicial designation may also be included if comparable designations are listed for other persons on the advisory board.