June 9, 2005
Digest: Under the circumstances, a judge should not permit the use of the Judge’s statement praising a not-for-profit organization’s work where the quote is intended to be used in an informational brochure and the judge would be identified as such.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.2(C); Opinion 93-74 (Vol. XI).
The inquiring City Court judge informs the Committee that a new not-for-profit organization has been organized in the judge’s city, for the purpose of operating a nursery “where parents can have their children watched temporarily when they have an emergency, have to attend court, or have other urgent needs for a temporary sitter for their children.” At a recent event on behalf of the nursery the judge said something to the effect that, everyday parents bring their children unnecessarily to the court house and that “[i]t would be wonderful for them to have a safe place to be while their families navigate complex systems.”
The organization has now asked the judge for permission to use the quote in its “informational brochure” not containing an express solicitation of funds. The judge asks us whether, under these circumstances, he/she may permit the quote to be included in the brochure.
Based on the information provided, we believe it inadvisable for the judge to allow the quote to be so used. Although not stated, we assume the judge would be identified by his/her judicial title or some other reference to judicial office, and not simply by name. Further, although it is described as an “informational brochure” it is not unreasonable to conclude that such brochures, albeit not used for the purpose of “expressly” soliciting funds, are intended to serve a promotional function.
Under the circumstances, such use of the judge’s name and title would constitute an impermissible use of the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the organization, however worthy its purposes may be. 22 NYCRR 100.2(C) This is to be compared with the facts in Opinion 93-74(Vol. XI), in which the Committee stated that a judge may be quoted in the annual report of a not-for-profit organization, which is used only to report its annual finances and give a synopsis of services provided; and even then, only if there are no references to the judge’s status as a judge. This does not appear to be the situation here. We therefore conclude the judge should not grant permission to use the quote.