March 27, 2014
Dear Judge :
This responds to your inquiry (13-185) asking whether you may purchase tickets and attend a fund raising dinner for an organization which supports victims of child abuse and helps prepare them for court appearances.
The Committee has advised that a judge's financial contribution to a not-for-profit legal services organization which litigates in court as counsel and may appear as a party in an action "would not automatically cast doubt on the judges capacity to impartially fulfill his/her judicial duties" (Opinion 04-140). Following similar reasoning, the Committee has previously advised that a judge may contribute money to a law enforcement related not-for-profit fraternal, civic, or charitable organization, and may attend such organization's fund-raising event, as long as the judge is not a speaker or guest of honor at the event (see Opinions 13-134; 02-81). Nor, under the facts you have presented, is the event itself so extraordinarily one-sided in nature that your attendance would necessarily cast doubt on your ability to be impartial (compare Opinions 10-59; 04-91).
Enclosed for your convenience are Opinions 13-134; 10-59; 04-140; 04-91; and 02-81 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)