Opinion 03-80

September 4, 2003


Digest:         A Child Support Magistrate in Family Court, may not actively be involved in fund-raising for a bar foundation.


Rule:            22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b) (i); 100.6; Opinions 88-44 (Vol. II); 88-77 (Vol. II); 91-74 (Vol. VII); 94-90 (Vol. XII).


         A Child Support Magistrate in Family Court (formerly titled “Hearing Examiner”) is also president of a local bar foundation which helps local attorneys in need, and inquires as to the degree of permitted involvement in the foundation’s annual campaign to raise funds.

         We note first that Family Court Child Support Magistrates are quasi-judicial officers and thus are obligated to comply with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct “in the performance of their judicial functions and otherwise shall so far as practical and appropriate use such rules as guides to their conduct.” 22 NYCRR 100.6(A). The Committee has previously advised that such guidelines would include the various restrictions on charitable fund-raising that are applicable to judges. Opinions 88-44 (Vol. II); 88-77 (Vol. III).

         Accordingly, the inquiring magistrate may not actively participate in fund-raising, but may assist the foundation in planning fund-raising and may be involved in the management of the foundation’s funds. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i).

         The use of the organization’s regular letterhead may be used for fund-raising provided that it lists only the inquirer’s name and office and, if comparable descriptions are listed for other persons, the magistrate’s title. But the inquirer may not sign a letter soliciting funds. Also, the inquirer may write a letter to a bar journal or legal newspaper which describes the foundation, but the letter cannot solicit funds. Inclusion of the magistrate’s name in a brochure describing the foundation’s work is also acceptable. Finally, the inquirer may attend a fund-raising cocktail party but may not be a speaker at the event. Opinion 94-90 (Vol. XII).