January 12, 1989
NOTE: MODIFIED BY RULE 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i)
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct were amended in 1996. Rule 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i) now provides as follows:
(b) A judge as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor, or a member or otherwise:
(i) may assist such an organization [an organization devoted to the law, the legal system or the administration of justice or an educational, religious, charitable, cultural, fraternal or civic organization not conducted for profit] in planning fund-raising and may participate in the management and investment of the organization's funds, but shall not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities.
Topic: (1) Whether a judge may designate a charitable group as recipient of a cash gift, from a third party, for solemnization of a marriage?
(2) Whether a judge may serve as an unpaid member of a cooperative apartment’s board of directors?
(3) Whether a judge may write a letter of recommendation on behalf of a friend who is applying to purchase a cooperative apartment?
Digest: (1) A judge may not designate a charity as recipient of a cash gift, from a third party, for solemnization of a marriage.
(2) A judge may serve as an unpaid member of a cooperative apartment’s board of directors.
(3) A judge may write a letter of recommendation on behalf of a friend who is applying to purchase a cooperative apartment.
Rules: (1) 22 NYCRR 100.5(b)(2)
(2) Opinion 88098
(3) Opinions 88-10; 88-53
A judge asks whether, upon declining an unsolicited offer of a gift of cash for performing a wedding, he can designate a charity to receive the money under his name.
A judge, by designating a charity as recipient of a gift from a third party is in essence soliciting funds in violation of 22 NYCRR section 100.5(b)(2). The fact that the judge did not request the contribution is irrelevant as the judge’s designating a specific organization to receive the money constitutes solicitation on behalf of the organization. The donation would take place only because the judge has the power to solemnize weddings.
The judge asks whether he may serve as an unpaid member of a cooperative apartment corporation’s board of directors. This question was answered in the affirmative in Opinion 88-98 of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics.
The judge also asks whether he may write a letter of recommendation on behalf of a friend who is applying to purchase a cooperative apartment. Such a letter is in the same category as a letter of recommendation for a job or law school admission and therefore is permissible (see Opinions 88-10 and 88-53). The letter, however, if written on judicial stationery, must indicate that it is “Personal and Unofficial”.