April 28, 1994
Digest: A county magistrates’ association may not hold a dinner/dance on behalf of the association which will involve the sale of tickets and solicitation of the public and which will financially benefit the association, nor can a judge appear as a speaker at the event.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§100.4(c); 100.5(b)(2)
A county magistrates’ association plans to hold a dinner/dance to benefit the association. It is anticipated that the proceeds would cover the cost of the dinner and excess funds would benefit the treasury of the association, which includes as its members both retired and current judges. No active judge is a member of the dinner/dance committee.
Ticket sales and solicitation letters would be sent to the general public and members of the bar as well as other magistrates in other counties. No active judge would sell, solicit, or use his or her name in connection with the selling of tickets for the event, except in connection with his or her own family.
The association's president and officers would actively participate at the event by speaking and presenting awards to retired judges. The excess money collected, after expenses, would be transferred to the treasury of the association. The funds of the association are utilized for training and education of judges, dinner meetings, newsletters and other such activities.
The president-elect of the association asks whether the foregoing activities would violate any rule or canon.
The submission states that the purpose of the event is to benefit the association and it appears to be anticipated and intended that the funds raised by the sale of tickets will exceed the cost of the event, which funds will be remitted to the association. Under such circumstances it can only be concluded that the proposed dinner/dance is a fundraising event.
Rule §100.5(b)(2), is thus applicable. That Rule of the Chief Administrator provides in part 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... No judge shall be a speaker or the guest of honor at an organization's fundraising events, but he or she may attend such events.” Moreover even if it were to be assumed that the association is an organization devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice, an active judge could not personally participate in public fund-raising activities. Thus, to the extent that the association is comprised of active judges, it could not do collectively what its members could not do individually. Accordingly, it is the opinion of the Committee that active judges comprising the organization could not engage as participants in the event or appear as speakers.