December 6, 2007
Digest: A judge may participate in a video, retrospective of a law school’s clinical program, to be displayed during a fund-raising dinner as part of an anniversary celebration of the program, and that video may also be used after the celebration as a fund-raising tool for the law school, provided the judge does not appear to be personally soliciting contributions.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.3(B)(8); 100.4(B); 100.4(C)(3)(b); Opinions 06-69; 03-141; 99-43 (Vol. XVII);95-48 (Vol. XIII).
A judge has been asked to participate in an interview about his/her experiences as a student and special professor of law for a law school clinical program. The interview will be part of a 20 to 30 minute video retrospective to be displayed during a fund-raising dinner as part of an anniversary celebration of a law school clinical program. According to the judge, a fund-raising addendum may be added to the video after the celebration so that it can be used as a fund-raising tool.
Pursuant to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and the Committee’s prior opinions, a judge may be a speaker or guest of honor at a law school function, even if fund-raising takes place at the event (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C][b]; Opinions 06-69; 99-43 [Vol. XVII]). The inquiring judge, therefore, may participate in the video that will be displayed during the fund-raising dinner, but may not personally solicit funds on behalf of the law school or the law school’s clinical program. The Judge also must comply with all other limitations in the Rules concerning public speaking in general and public comments on pending or impending cases (see 22 NYCRR 100.3[B]; 100.4[B]; Opinions 03-141; 95-48 [Vol. XIII]) .
The Judge should, however, take reasonable steps to ensure that the fund-raising addendum to the video is not so closely associated with his/her comments that the judge appears to be personally soliciting contributions. The judge should also take reasonable steps to ensure that the video is only distributed for use at law school functions.