May 25, 1989
Topic: Propriety of a judge writing a letter to a governmental agency urging support of continued funding of a private alcohol rehabilitation program.
Digest: A judge may write a letter supporting funding by a governmental agency of a private organization engaged in alcohol rehabilitation programs, which accepts court referrals.
Rules: Sections 100.5(c)(2) and 100.4(c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts; (22 NYCRR 100.5[c] and 100.4[c]).
A judge inquires concerning the propriety of writing a letter to a state agency in support of continued governmental funding of a private alcohol rehabilitation program to which on occasion defendants charged with and/or convicted of alcohol related crimes are referred by the court.
Fundraising, per se, by a judge is proscribed by section 100.5(c)(2) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts.
However, section 100.4(c) of said rule provides:
A Judge may serve as a member, officer or director of an organization or governmental agency devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. He or she may assist such an organization in raising funds and may participate in their management and investment, but shall not personally participate in public fundraising activities. He or she may make recommendations to public and private fund-granting agencies on projects and programs concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.
While often it is a close question whether an organization’s activities, in fact, qualify as “projects and programs concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice”, the Committee believes that the program of this organization, in accepting persons charged with alcohol-related crimes, who are referred by the court to the organization, is related to the legal system and the administration of justice, and therefore may be the subject of a letter from a judge to a state agency recommending continued governmental funding, as permitted by 22 NYCRR 100.4(c).