Opinion 14-15

March 14, 2014

Dear Justice:

         This responds to your inquiry (14-15) asking whether it is ethically permissible for you to serve as a volunteer advisor and member of a special and planned gifts committee of a community college foundation. Your involvement would consist of advising the foundation in promoting special gifts and the benefit of tax advantages. You would have no connection with potential donors and your name would not be associated with any literature.

         A judge may serve as a member or non-legal advisor of an educational, charitable, or civic organization not conducted for profit, so long as the organization will not be engaged in proceedings that ordinarily would come before the judge (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C][3][a][i]). The Rules, however, prohibit any personal participation in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities although a judge “may assist” the organization in “planning fund-raising” (id.). Additionally, a judge may not “use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising or membership solicitation” (22 NYCRR 100.4[3][b][iv]). Accordingly, it is ethically permissible for you to serve in this advisory capacity as your participation does not involve the personal solicitation of funds.

         Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 12-14; 10-33; 06-78; and 01-26 which discuss the scope of permissible participation related to fund-raising activities.

                                       Very truly yours,

                                       George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice

                                       Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)

                                       Committee Chair