September 1, 2017
This responds to your inquiry (17-94) asking if you may be a guest of honor to be recognized by a local not-for-profit arts entity during a live concert. The concert is part of the organization’s project to recognize “local women who have devoted their lives to empowering and advocating for other women and/or blazing new trails for women.” The project will also include an event for families with young women, including a discussion forum. The organization advises it has no plans to fund-raise during the event, and your name and likeness will not be used for any fund-raising purposes. In addition to participating, you also ask if you may allow the entity to post a video of the event online to share with the broader community, assuming it includes no fund-raising.
Generally, a judge need not conceal his/her judicial status when engaging in permissible extra-judicial activities. The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct allow a judge to participate in extra-judicial activities which do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially; detract from the dignity of judicial office; or interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties and are not incompatible with judicial office (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[A]). Nor do the Rules prohibit a judge from being an advertised guest of honor at a not-for profit cultural organization’s non-fund-raising event (cf. 22 NYCRR 100.4[C][b]). Thus, the Committee has previously advised that a judge may be a guest of honor at a non-fund raising event recognizing the judge as a community leader; may appear in an educational video about a specific disease which will be distributed free by a not-for-profit organization; and may participate in preparing an information booklet for a not-for-profit religious institution’s outreach mission trip which was not to be used to solicit funds for the trip.
As the sponsoring organization assures that the event is not a fund-raiser and that your name and likeness will not be used to raise funds, we see no ethical bar to your participation.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 13-142; 12-135; 12-112; 02-70 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Div., First Dep’t (Ret.)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Family Court Judge
Acting Justice, Supreme Court