January 7, 2011
This responds to your inquiry (10-144) asking whether you may be a member of the board of directors of a non-profit organization that provides social services and resources addressing issues related to aging in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. You advise that the organization does not litigate and is not likely to appear in your court or any other court.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct permit a judge to serve as a director of a non-profit charitable organization as long as the organization will not be engaged regularly in proceedings that ordinarily would come before the judge and, if the judge presides full-time, the organization will not be engaged regularly in adversary proceedings in any court (see 22 NYCRR 100.4 [C][a][i],[ii]). In addition a judge may not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.4 [C][b][i]). Nor may a judge use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising or membership solicitation (see 22 NYCRR 100.4 [C][b][iv]). Also, such membership cannot cast reasonable doubt on a judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge; cannot detract from the dignity of judicial office; or interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties and cannot be incompatible with judicial office (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[A] - ). Moreover, such membership may not create even the appearance of impropriety (see 22 NYCRR 100.2).
Therefore, subject to these and any other applicable provisions of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, you may be a member of the board of directors of a non-profit organization that provides social services and resources addressing issues related to aging in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
For your information, I have enclosed Opinions 07-81, 05-66 and 03-29 which address activities similar to the one you propose.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow
Assoc. Justice, Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)