April 21, 2005
Digest: A judge may be a named sponsor of a local civic event which is not a fund-raiser, but may not allow his/her judicial status to be used in any promotional material.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2(C); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i).
A part-time village judge seeks the opinion of the Committee concerning the permissible degree of participation in a local civic event run by the village. The event is a garden walk in which village residents open their backyard gardens to persons who go on a self-guided tour. There is no cost to the walkers nor is there any fee paid to the participating homeowners, although there is a jar for donations at the registration desk. The village asks sponsors to donate $100 to help defray the costs of balloons and signs. Sponsors’ names appear on the posters promoting the event and on the map/brochure given to the garden walkers. Any excess funds presumably go to the village to be used for future civic events.
The event is not a fund-raiser. It is clearly a civic event. Thus, the judge may donate $100 to sponsor the event and may allow his/her name to appear on the poster and brochure. Such participation would not violate the prohibition on personal participation “in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities.” 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i). However, the judge should not permit any reference to be made in any promotional material to the judge’s judicial status. See, 22 NYCRR 100.2(C).