Digest: A judge may continue to chair a bar association’s fund-raising event so long as the judge does not engage in fund-raising activities, but the judge’s name may not be included in letterhead listing members of the dinner committee that will be used to solicit advertisements for a fund-raising souvenir journal.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(iv); Opinions 88-13 (Vol. I); 91-99 (Vol. VIII); 01-26.
Prior to assuming the bench, a judge chaired a bar association’s annual fund-raising dinner. The chair’s only responsibilities are to prepare the seating arrangement for the dinner and to serve as master of ceremonies on the evening of the dinner. The dinner announcement that is sent to all association members is written by the president of the association on stationery that includes the names of the dinner committee members. The announcement also includes a request that members purchase advertisements for a souvenir journal, the proceeds from which are used for the association’s legal defense fund. The judge asks if it is ethically permissible to continue to serve as chair of this event.
Section 100.4 of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct authorizes judges to participate in extra-judicial activities subject to certain limitations. As a member of an organization devoted to the improvement of the law, a judge may participate in planning a fund-raising event, but is prohibited from personally participating in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b).
This Committee has previously advised that a judge may serve as co-chair of an event sponsored by a religious and charitable organization [91-99 (Vol. VIII)], and as co-chair of a religious group’s dinner committee [88-13 (Vol. I)]. In both cases, however, the judges were cautioned against participating in any fund-raising associated with the events. Similarly, it is the Committee’s view that the inquiring judge may prepare the seating arrangement for the bar association’s dinner and may serve as the master of ceremonies on the evening of the dinner. The judge’s name, however should not appear on letterhead including a list of the members of the dinner committee that will be used to solicit advertisements for a fund-raising souvenir journal. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(iv); Opinion 01-26.-