June 16, 1994
Digest: A judge may not establish a public clothing solicitation drive for the poor and homeless in the name of the court, nor may the judge permit the clerk of the court to do so.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.5(b)(2)
A village justice asks whether he/she may establish a clothing solicitation drive for the poor and homeless. Specifically, the judge asks:
Along these lines, may I announce in my local news paper that the court is establishing a clothing drive for the homeless and is requesting attorneys and others to bring clothes to the court? I intend to have large boxes available to receive the clothes and my court clerk would administer the drive.
If the answer to the foregoing is affirmative, may I create a permanent drive and make periodic public announcements of the drive and supplement the public announcements by posting a sign in the courthouse that solicits the clothes and other goods?
The Committee is of the opinion that neither the judge nor the clerk of the court may engage in a clothing drive in the name of the court. Requesting attorneys and others to bring clothing and other items to the court would constitute a solicitation of contributions, which, although not of funds, would be perceived as involving the court as the sponsor of a particular charitable activity. As salutary and as worthy as such activity may be, sponsorship by the judge or by the clerk, in the name of the court, would be lending the prestige of the court to this particular charitable endeavor. Rule 100.5(b)(2) is intended to guard against such public sponsorship and, in the view of the Committee, is applicable.
The Committee does not address or pass upon the possibility of merely providing boxes or facilities in the court building as a convenience for the collection of clothing, but not as part of a “drive” conducted by or in the name of the court.