January 19, 1995
Digest: A full-time judge who is a member of a law school board of directors may participate in the homecoming activities of the law school, which include a fundraising aspect, provided the judge does not personally participate in the fundraising activities.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(c),100.5(b)(2)
A full-time judge, who is a member of the board of directors of a law school, asks whether the inclusion of a single line about annual giving in the homecoming literature would be considered a violation of the Rules of Judicial Conduct.
The board of directors consists of about fifty members, of whom approximately one half are judges or retired judges. The homecoming program includes continuing legal education panels on recent developments in various fields of law. In connection with the occasion, literature listing all members of the board of directors also includes reference to "Annual Giving" and is distributed to all alumni and alumnae. The judge is concerned whether the reference to fundraising in the literature is violative of the Rules of Judicial Conduct so as to proscribe his/her participation in other facets of the homecoming activities.
The committee is of the opinion that the presence of the single line about annual giving is not to be deemed a violation of any ethical rules.
Moreover, although a judge generally may not participate in fundraising activities (22 NYCRR 100.5[b]), an exception is contained in section 100.4(c), as follows:
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 administrative of justice. He or she may assist such an organization in raising funds and may participate in their management and investment, but shall not personally participate in public fund-raising activities. He or she may make recommendations to public and private fund-granting agencies on projects and programs concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.
Although the homecoming literature contains a single reference to fundraising, it is not only minimal but, in any event, permissible, under the terms of section 100.4(c), since the judge will not participate personally in any fundraising activities.
Accordingly, the judge may serve as a member of the board of directors and participate in the homecoming activities including use of his/her name in literature along with other members of the board of directors and panelists, notwithstanding a single sentence reference in the literature to "annual giving".