Opinion 91-43

April 25, 1991


Digest:         A full-time judge should not serve as president of a charitable organization which provides services and support to women offenders, as this might create an appearance of partiality. The judge cannot preside at the organization’s annual dinner if the dinner is a fundraiser, but may attend.


Rules:          22 NYCRR §100.5(b)


         A full-time judge inquires whether the judge may serve as president of a charitable organization devoted to serving women offenders by visiting them in jail or in court, contacting families and providing other assistance. The inquiry further asks if it would be proper for the judge to preside or participate at the organization’s annual dinner or meeting, for which tickets would be sold.

         Section 100.5(b) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator states in part:


A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties. A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee or nonlegal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members....

         Because the nature of the work of the organization is to serve women offenders by visits in jails and courts, it is inappropriate for the judge to serve as president, as this might give an appearance of partiality on the part of the judge.

         Concerning the annual gathering, if it is a fundraiser, the judge may not preside at the event, although clearly the judge’s attendance is permissible [22 NYCRR 100.5(b)(2)].