January 10, 2011
NOTE: This opinion has been modified in part by Opinions 15-171 and 16-153, which advise that “section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i) does not apply to a judge’s interactions with his/her family members” (Opinion 15-171) or “to a judge’s interactions with judicial colleagues over whom he/she has no appellate or supervisory authority” (Opinion 16-153), “provided the judge makes no reference to his/her judicial office and does not otherwise lend the prestige of judicial office to his/her solicitations” (Opinions 16-153; 15-171). This exception applies only to personally soliciting funds from a judge’s family members and judicial colleagues; it does not extend to the judge’s friends.
This responds to your inquiry (10-152) asking whether a town justice may participate in runs/walks when he/she must raise funds to participate and whether a judge may donate to a participant.
A judge is prohibited from personally participating in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C][b][I]). The Committee previously has advised that a judge may contribute to and participate as a walker in an annual walk to raise funds for a charitable organization dedicated to fighting a serious illness, but may not (a) solicit contributions from any individuals including friends, relatives, or attorneys; (b) solicit contributing sponsors for his/her walk; or, (c) allow the fact of the judge’s participation or his/her judicial title to be utilized to raise funds for the organization or the event (see Opinion 06-114); and may participate as a bicyclist in an “AIDS ride”, and may offer assistance as a “crew person”, but may not solicit contributions on behalf of the organization or permit contributions to be made in the judge’s name (see Opinion 96-147 [Vol. XV]). However, a judge is permitted to donate his/her personal funds to a charitable organization (see Opinion 07-17).
Therefore, you also may participate in runs/walks and contribute your personal funds to the sponsoring charitable organization, but you cannot personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities.
I have enclosed copies of Opinions 07-17, 06-114, and 96-147 (Vol. XV)) for your convenience.