June 7, 2007
Digest: A judge may be honored at a law school alumni association’s fund-raising dinner, but may not participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities on behalf of the association.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i), (ii), (iv); Opinions 01-39 (Vol. XX); 98-50 (Vol. XVI).
A judge asks if it would be ethically permissible for him/her to be honored at a law school alumni association’s fund-raising dinner. The purpose of the dinner is to raise money for a scholarship named after the alumni association. The funds raised will be donated to a law school that will hold and administer the funds.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit judges from personally participating in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities [22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i)], and generally prohibit judges from serving as speakers or guests of honor at an organization’s fund-raising events [22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(ii)]. Judges are, however, expressly permitted to speak or be honored at a court employee organization, bar association or law school function. Id.
Although the organization holding the fund-raiser is a law school alumni association, it is closely tied to the law school, and the event itself will raise money for a scholarship to be administered by the law school. Further, it is the Committee’s opinion that this law school alumni association, as an “association of lawyers and judges,” withthe purpose of
furthering issues involving the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, is the functional equivalent of a bar association. See Opinions 01-39 (Vol. XX); 98-50 (Vol. XVI).
In our opinion, given the nature and purpose of the subject organization, the judge may attend and be honored at the law school alumni association’s fund-raising event, but the judge may not participate in soliciting funds or engage in other fund-raising activities. 22 NYYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i), (iv).