Opinion: 96-19

March 12, 1996

Digest:  A judge may solicit judicial colleagues to become members of a fraternal organization composed of persons in government of a particular ethnic group but may not solicit membership by others.

Rules:  22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3).


            The inquirer, a full-time judge is "involved in the formation of a new fraternal organization which would be known as the Irish Americans in government." The organization would "be open to all person who work in government and who are Irish by heritage". The judge ask whether he/she would "be precluded from contacting colleagues and people that I know as potential members . . ."

            In the opinion of the Committee, there is no ethical proscription barring the judge's participation in the formation of the organization. But the judge should not engage in personal solicitation of membership except among judicial colleagues. Further, in canvassing judicial colleagues and explaining the purposes and format, of the organization, the judge should not ask such persons to send the requested information concerning eligibility to the judge's chambers.