October 27, 2005
Digest: A judge may attend, and receive an award at, a non-fund raising dinner sponsored by a local service club, and may purchase an ad in the event’s journal.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2(A); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i)(ii); Opinions 02-33; 02-78; 92-70 (Vol. IX); 92-84 (Vol. X); 94-25 (Vol. XII).
A local service club wants to award a judge its distinguished community and civil service award at its annual dinner. The judge, in addition to accepting the award, wants to purchase an ad in a journal prepared for the event anonymously congratulating other honorees at the event. The organization assures the judge the dinner is not a fund-raising event and any profit from the journal will be donated to local charities. The judge asks whether it is ethically permissible to attend the dinner and accept the award. The judge also inquires as to the ethical propriety of purchasing an ad in the journal as long as there is no personal identification.
This Committee has previously advised that a judge may attend and be honored at non-fund-raising events sponsored by a variety of not-for-profit community organizations such as Boy Scouts [Opinion 88-66 (Vol. II), an ethnic police association [Opinion 90-184(Vol. V)], a charitable organization [Opinion 91-42 (Vol. VII)], civic groups [Opinion 93-128 (Vol. XI)], a local community service agency that provides services to the judge’s court [Opinion 94-147 (Vol. XIII)] and a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting civilian participation in the New York military reserves and militia. Opinion 99-15 (Vol. XVII).
In this inquiry, because the judge was assured the annual dinner is not a fund-raising event, the Committee believes the judge may attend and accept an award. Accepting the award, under these circumstances, does not violate sections 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i) and (ii) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct which prohibit personal participation in fund-raising. Opinion 02-33.
The judge may purchase a journal ad containing a statement congratulating the dinner’s other honorees, because doing so does not constitute a personal “...participation in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities,” and whether the judge is identified in the ad is immaterial. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i); Opinions 02-78; 92-70 (Vol. IX); 92-84 (Vol. X); 94-25 (Vol. XII).