June 13, 1991
Digest: A full-time judge ethically may serve on the IOLA Fund board which administers a fund which assists in providing legal services to the poor, although there may be legal constraints to so serving.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(c)
A full-time judge inquires whether the judge may accept an appointment to the board of the Interest on Lawyers Account (IOLA) fund which assists in providing civil legal services to poor persons.
Section 100.4(c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides that “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.” Article 6, section 20 of the New York State Constitution provides that judges of certain courts, including the inquirer’s, may not “hold any other public office or trust except an office in relation to the administration of the courts...”
The Committee sees no ethical objection to the judge’s serving on the board. Although the Committee does not answer questions of law, there would appear to be a serious legal question as to whether membership on this board would be in violation of the constitutional provision, as the service may not be adequately related to the administration of the courts.