March 14, 1991
Digest: A judge may write a letter to prospective college students which sets forth the judge's feelings about the college, the judge's alma mater, and personal information about the judge's legal career.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§100.5(b) and 100.5(b)(2).
A full-time judge asks if judges may participate in a college recruitment program conducted by the judge's alma mater to attract certain outstanding students. The university has requested that the judge write letters to these students on the judge's letterhead, outlining the judge's feelings about the school and providing some personal information about the judge's position. The letter would solicit no funds.
Section 100.5(b)(2) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator, which covers extra-judicial activities, states that a judge may serve and be listed as an officer, director or trustee of an educational organization, provided that the judge does not take part in or allow his or her name to be used in the solicitation of funds.
The recruitment of outstanding students for an academic institution complies with section 100.5(b)(2). In Opinion 88-79, Vol. 11, this Committee permitted the use of a resume and photograph of a judge in a university brochure advertising the school. Here, provided that no fundraising is involved, the judge may write a letter which outlines the judge's feelings about the school and details personal information about the judge's legal career, to attract students to a college. If the judge uses court stationery, the letter must be conspicuously marked “personal and unofficial.”