Opinion: 02-14

March 7, 2002



Digest: (1) A judge, who received a gift from a close friend of a dinner and raffle ticket, may accept a prize awarded in a random drawing, but must report the value of the gift to the clerk of the judge's court. (2) A judge may serve as president of a not-for-profit organization that provides after-school tutoring, supervision and enrichment for children, subject to the provisions of section 100.4 of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(D); 100.4(C)(3) (a)(i); (C)(3)(a)(ii); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i); 100.4(D)(5)(e); 100.4(D)(5)(h); Opinion 96-118 (Vol. XIV).

Opinion:

        A judge attended a college alumni association annual fund-raising dinner as the guest of a friend of long-standing who was the association's honoree. A complimentary raffle ticket was placed at each attendee's dinner setting. The judge received a winning ticket for a four day/three night stay at an out-of-state resort in the raffle drawing. The judge asks whether it is ethically permissible to accept the prize.

        This Committee has previously concluded that a judge may participate in a fund-raising raffle sponsored by a charitable organization, provided, of course, that the raffle is lawful. Opinion 96-118 (Vol. XIV). In this case, however, the raffle ticket was part of a gift to the judge from the judge's close friend. Section 100.4(D) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct permits a judge to accept a gift from a close personal friend whose appearance or interest in a case would in any event require disqualification under section 100.3(E) [22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(5)(e)], or where ". . .the donor is not a party or other person who has come or is likely to come or whose interests have come or are likely to come before the judge. . . ." 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(5)(h). In either event, if the value of the prize exceeds $150, the judge must file a report in the office of the clerk of the judge's court indicating the name of the donor and the value of the gift. 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(5)(h); 100.4(H)(2). These conditions appear to have been meet. Thus, in the Committee's view, the judge may accept the door prize. Because the value of the door prize exceeds $150 the judge also must comply with the filing requirement set forth in section 100.4(H)(2).

        The judge also asks whether it is ethically permissible to serve as president of a not-for-profit charitable organization that will provide after-school tutoring, supervision and enrichment for children. A judge is permitted to serve as an officer of a not-for-profit charitable organization that is not likely to be engaged in proceedings in the judge's court or, if the judge is a full-time judge, in adversary proceedings in any court. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(a)(i),(ii). In addition, the judge may not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities on the organization's behalf. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i). The inquiring judge, therefore, may serve as president of the board of directors of a non-profit organization that will provide after-school tutoring, supervision and enrichment for children in a needy community, subject to the restrictions set forth in the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.