July 6, 2015
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
This responds to your inquiry (15-90) asking whether you may accept an invitation to be a guest of a law firm at a bar association’s annual dinner, at which a prominent jurist will receive an award. You indicate you are friends with a partner at the law firm and that the law firm has not appeared before you. The cost of the dinner is approximately $500.00.
While the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit a judge from accepting all gifts (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[D]), a judge may nevertheless accept very limited gifts, including “an invitation to the judge and the judge’s spouse or guest to attend a bar-related function” (22 NYCRR 100.4[D][a]). Accordingly, the Committee has previously advised that a judge may attend a function of a bar association as a guest, “even if the function or affair is expensive” (Opinion 87-15[a][b]).
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 03-55 and 87-15(a)(b) which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)