January 27, 2005
Digest: A judge may introduce and present an award to an honoree at a not-for-profit organization’s fund-raising dinner, provided that the judge’s presence and role as the presenter of the award are unadvertised.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b) (i), (ii); Opinions 01-51; 98-16 (Vol. XVI); 96-52 (Vol. XIV).
A judge has been asked to present an award to a friend and co-member of a not-for-profit, multi-social service, educational and planning agency serving an ethnic/cultural group to which the judge and the honoree both belong. The award will be presented to the honoree at a fund-raising dinner for the organization. The judge would not be named or listed in the dinner’s literature as the presenter of the award, but would be expected to introduce the honoree and say a few words about the latter’s service to the organization and the ethnic/cultural community.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct allow a judge to attend fund-raising events for not-for-profit educational, religious, charitable, cultural, fraternal or civic organizations. However, the judge may not be the speaker or guest of honor at the fund-raising event. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(ii). This Committee has previously opined that introducing the speakers and others at the event does constitute speaking at the fund-raiser. Opinion 98-16. (Vol. XVI). Yet, the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct also allow a judge to accept an award at an organization’s fund-raising event if the award is unadvertised and ancillary to the event. 22 NYCRR 100.4(B)(3)(b)(ii); Opinions 01-51; 96-52 (Vol XIV). Similarly, in the instant matter, the judge’s role is unadvertised and the judge’s statement will be brief and limited to the honoree’s service to the ethnic/cultural community.
The Committee sees no significant distinction between a judge articulating the expected and appropriate few words of thanks upon receiving an award and a judge making a brief, limited statement as an unadvertised presenter of an award. We therefore conclude that the judge may introduce and present an award to a honoree at the organization’s fund-raising dinner, provided that the judge’s presence and role are unannounced. But, the judge may not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or any other fund-raising activities related to the organization or the event. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i).