March 7, 2002
Digest: A judge may not give a talk on the topic of Wills and Trusts at his/her parish, where the purpose of the talk is to encourage members to leave bequests to the parish.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.4(B); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(I); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(iv).
A judge asks whether it is permissible to give an informational talk on the topics of Wills and Trusts at the judge’s parish, for the specific purpose of encouraging bequests to the parish.
As provided by section 100.4(B) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, a judge is permitted to “speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in extra-judicial activities subject to the requirements of this Part.” This provision allows a judge, among other activities, to lecture or speak on the administration of justice and the law. However, section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i) of the Rules provides that a judge “shall not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities.” Nor, as stated in section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(iv), may a judge “use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising. . . ” Encouraging bequests to the parish constitutes both personal participation in fund-raising and the use of the prestige of judicial office for such purposes, and is therefore impermissible.