December 1, 2003
Digest: It is not unethical for a judge, who was not a candidate for election to judicial office, to attend the induction ceremony of another judge, and thereafter the reception which is being paid for out of surplus campaign funds.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1)(c), (g); Opinion 97-145 (Vol. XVI).
A judge who was not a candidate for election to judicial office asks whether it is permissible to attend an induction ceremony and reception thereafter for another judge, which is being paid for, in whole or in part, out of surplus campaign funds.
The Committee has previously concluded that a judge should not attend a “Gala Ball” for a newly-inducted elected official, where the event is a fund-raiser, requiring an admission charge, and the purpose of which is to pay down the campaign debt of the candidate. Opinion 97-145 (Vol. XVI). That is, the civic role of a judge in swearing in a newly-elected official does not lend propriety to what is thereafter clearly prohibited political activity on the part of the judge who has performed that function. 22 NYCRR 10.5(A)(1)(c), (g).
Here, the post-election event is not intended to raise funds or to support anyone’s campaign for office. It is an event that calls for collegiality and the fact that the cost is being met with surplus campaign funds, does not, in our opinion, transform the reception into a political function at which attendance would be forbidden.