May 25, 1989
Topic: Judge serving on a steering committee whose purpose is to raise funds for a student scholarship at a state college, in honor of a close friend of the judge.
Digest: It is improper for any judge to participate in a fund-raising event, notwithstanding its commendable purpose.
Rule: 22 NYCRR Sec. 100.5(b)(2)
A town justice has inquired whether it would be proper to serve on a steering committee whose purpose it is to conduct an athletic scholarship campaign designed to raise the sum of $10,000. The scholarship will be to honor a person who has been a leader in supporting athletics in the area, and who is a close friend of the justice, and the scholarship would go to an academically excellent athlete.
Section 100.5(b)(2) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts provides, in part, as follows:
No judge shall solicit funds for an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of the office for that purpose, but may be listed as an officer, director or trustee of such an organization; provided, however, that no such listing shall he used in connection with any solicitation of funds. No judge shall be a speaker or the guest of honor at an organization's fundraising events, but he or she may attend such events.
While the inquiry does not state that the town justice will be engaged directly in personally raising or soliciting funds, it is clear that the justice's role will be part of the overall fundraising effort and would constitute, at least, indirect participation in the fundraising activity. (See Opinion 88-104.)
Therefore, the justice should not participate in the proposed fundraising activity described in the inquiry.