Opinion 95-13


January 19, 1995



Please Note: Former Rule 100.5(c)(3) has been superseded by 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(5)(h), which sets a $150 threshold for reporting. For the current equivalent of Canon 7B(2), please see 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(5) ("A candidate shall not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of the candidate or others").

 

Digest:         1) A recently elected judge may accept a computer purchased by the judge’s campaign committee in partial repayment of personal loans to the committee, where the amount of the loans far exceed the cost of the computer. 2) A recently elected judge may accept the gift of a judicial robe from a former judge.

 

Rules:          Canon 7B(2); Canons of Judicial Conduct; 22 NYCRR 100.5(c)(3)


Opinion:


         A recently elected judge inquires whether it would be improper for the judge or the judge's spouse to accept, in repayment of personal loans made to the judge's campaign committee, a computer purchased by the committee, which constitutes its sole remaining asset. The judge states that they are the only creditors of the campaign and that the amount of the loans far exceeds the cost of the computer. (It is assumed that the computer was purchased by the committee with contributions and loans made to it).


         Canon 7B (2) of the Canons of Judicial Conduct of the New York State Bar Association states that a judicial candidate:

 

should not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of himself or members of his family.


         Under the circumstances presented, the Committee is of the opinion that Canon 7(b)(2) would not be violated by the sole creditors of the committee and therefore no preferential treatment is being accorded to them. Further, it is the sole remaining asset of the campaign and its cost is far less than the amount of the loans, Given those facts, it would be unreasonable to conclude that the acceptance of the computer constitutes an appearance of impropriety. 


         The judge has also inquired whether it would be permissible to accept the gift of a judicial robe from a former judge.


         Rule 100.5(c)(3) of the rules of the Chief Administrator states:

 

(iii) a judge or member of his or her family residing in his or her household may accept any other gift, bequest, favor or loan only if the donor is not a party or other person whose interests have come before the judge, and, if its value exceeds $100.00, the judge reports it in the same manner as he or she reports compensation in section 100.6


         Under the Rule, the judge may accept from a former judge the gift of a judicial robe. If the value of the gift exceeds $100.00, it should be reported.