January 26, 2006
Digest: A judge may not, in public, wrap holiday gift purchases for a charitable cause, where the charge for the service rendered by the judge is intended to result in a profit for the charity.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3); Opinions 89-18 (Vol III); 90-28 (Vol V).
A judge inquires whether it is proper for a judge to publicly wrap holiday gift purchases for a charitable cause, where the judge does not accept or handle money, the rates charged are pre-set and determined by the size of the box to be wrapped, but the monies raised beyond the cost of materials are donated to the charity.
This Committee previously held in Opinion 90-28 (Vol. V) that a judge may cook and serve hamburgers at a not-for-profit church fundraising function where the price of the hamburger produced no profit.
Similarly, the Committee held that a judge may participate in the clearing of tables after a fundraising supper for a fraternal organization. Opinion 89-18 (Vol III). There, the judge did not solicit or generate any funds through the volunteer activity of bussing tables.
Under the circumstances presented by the instant inquiry however, it is the gift wrapping activity itself that will generate the actual profit. The wrapping is not merely an off-shoot or indirect result of a related profit making activity. Here, the materials, and the judge’s participation as a gift wrapper will directly result in generating the funds to be donated to a charitable endeavor. Morever, the judge states that he/she “would like to be seen by the public.”
We conclude therefore, that the judge’s participation as a volunteer gift wrapper would, in our opinion, constitute a prohibited fundraising activity under section 100.4(C)(3) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, an activity the judge should avoid.