May 7, 1992
Digest: A part-time judge may serve on the boards of directors of a nursery school, a Senior Center, and a community group which addresses problems of drug and alcohol abuse, but the judge should not sell tickets or solicit funds for those organizations. The judge's spouse may serve as a member of the county committee for a political party.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.5(b).
A part-time judge requests an opinion about the propriety of serving on a board of directors for a nursery school which sponsors a carnival open to the public, and on a board of directors for a Senior Center, which sponsors several pancake breakfasts, and on the board of directors of a community group which addresses problems of drug and alcohol abuse. The judge has assisted this group in fundraising activities, including the sale of raffle tickets and the organization of a fundraising footrace.
In addition to these activities, the judge asks if the judge's spouse can be appointed to the vacancy on the county committee of a political party which was created by the judge's election.
“A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties,” and 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.” (22 NYCRR 100.5[b]).
Section 100.5(b)(2) of the Rules provides, however that:
No judge shall solicit funds for any 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 be used in connection with any solicitation of funds.
In accordance with this rule, the judge may serve on the nursery school board, but may not sell tickets for the carnival. Since there is no fundraising involved in relations to the Senior Center, the judge may serve on that board and may wait on tables at the pancake breakfast. (See, Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions 89-18; 90-28).
As for the community group which deals with drug and alcohol abuse, the judge is prohibited from all fundraising activities but may serve on its board of directors, if such involvement does “... not reflect adversely upon impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties” (22 NYCRR 100.5[b]), then the judge should not serve on that board.
There is no ethical prohibition to the appointment of the judge’s spouse as a county committee member to the vacancy created by the judge’s election to judicial office. (See, Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinion 90–88.)