Opinion 02-24

March 7, 2002


Digest:         Under the circumstances presented, the inquiring judge may be a speaker at a bar association’s fund-raising event for an unrelated charitable organization.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.3(C)(3)(b)(iii).


         The inquiring judge had been asked to speak at a bar association luncheon at which a retiring judge is to be honored. Subsequent to receiving the invitation the judge learned that proceeds from the luncheon will be donated to a children’s home. The judge states the problem as follows:


I know . . . that judges may speak at bar association events which are intended to raise funds, which, ordinarily, involve funds used for traditional bar association purposes. However, this may perhaps be viewed differently, because the not for profit organization to be benefitted is separate from the bar association. However, it also could be argued that this particular organization involves the work of the Family Court (I’m under the impression that Judges sometimes send troubled, abused, and neglected kids there), and therefore the Children’s Home is closely related to, and indeed assists in, the administration of justice.


The Bar President has assured me that there will no advertisement of my status as a speaker prior to the event. Furthermore, it is clear to me that this honor is ancillary to the main purpose and program of the annual Law Day Luncheon.

         The Committee is of the view that in responding to the present inquiry there is no necessity to determine whether section 100.3(C)(3)(b)(ii) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, which permits judges to be speakers at bar association fund-raising events, applies where the purpose of the fund-raising is on behalf of an unrelated organization. For, as the inquirer notes, section 100.3(C)(3)(b)(ii), also provides an exception to the prohibition on participation in a fund-raising event where there is no advertising of the judge’s appearance and such participation is ancillary to the event. Thus, under the circumstances presented, the judge may be a speaker at this particular fund-raising function.