Opinion 03-82


October 23, 2003

 

Digest:          Under the circumstances presented, a judge may accept a monetary stipend from a not-for-profit foundation at a non-fund raising function and may contribute that stipend to a charity, but must report its receipt to the office of the clerk of the judge’s court.

 

Rules:           22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(5)(a); 100.4(D)(5)(h); 100.4(H)(2); Opinions 02-33; 01-57; 99-150 (Vol XVIII); 99-15 (Vol. XVII); 96-147 (Vol. XV); 95-45 (Vol. XIII); ; 94-147 (Vol. XIII); 93-128 (Vol. XI); 91-42 (Vol. VII); 90-184 (Vol. VI); 88-66 (Vol. II).



Opinion:


           A judge has been offered a community service award from a local foundation. The award will be presented at a dinner which is not a fund-raising affair. The award includes a $2,500.00 stipend. Tradition dictates that the recipient donate the stipend to a charity. There is nothing to indicate that the foundation has interests that are likely to come before the judge. The judge asks if he/she may accept the award and donate the stipend to a charity.


           This Committee has previously determined that a judge may attend and be honored at non-fund raising events sponsored by a variety of not-for-profit community groups. Opinions 02-33; 01-57; 99-150 (Vol XVIII); 99-15 (Vol. XVII); 94-147 (Vol. XIII); 93-128 (Vol. XI); 91-42 (Vol. VII); 90-184 (Vol. VI); 88-66 (Vol. II). In addition, the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct allow a judge to accept a gift incident to a public testimonial. 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(5)(a). This Committee has also stated that a judge is free to make personal contributions to not-for-profit organizations. Opinion 96-147 (Vol. XV).


           Based on the foregoing, the judge may accept the monetary stipend from the foundation at a non-fund raising event and contribute that stipend to a charity. However, the judge should be aware that since the award is more than $150.00, the judge is obligated to report it in the same manner that the judge would report income. 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(5)(h); Also, it must be reported to the office of the clerk of the judge’s court. 22 NYCRR 100.4(H)(2); Opinion 95-45 (Vol. XIII).