Digest: A full time judge may accept the position of secretary of a private not-for-profit golf club, and may be excused from the obligation of paying annual dues where the identical benefit has been conferred on all persons who have served as secretary. The monetary value of the waived dues must be reported as income, pursuant to Section 100.4 (H)(2) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4 ( C)(3); 100.4 (H)(2), Opinions 92-05, 90-204
A full-time judge inquires about the propriety of accepting the position of secretary of a private golf club, a not-for-profit recreational organization. The position would not require the judge to participate in fund-raising in any way, and there is no likelihood of the club becoming involved in litigation before the judge. The judge also asks whether he/she may be excused from paying the dues of $291.00 per month, a benefit afforded to whomever serves as secretary “by longstanding custom.”
Section 100.4 ( C)(3) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct states that “a judge may be a member or serve as an officer, director, trustee, or non-legal advisor . . . of an educational, religious, charitable, cultural, fraternal or civic organization not conducted for profit,”subject to the limitations stated elsewhere in the rule. Section 100.4 (H) states that “a full-time judge may receive compensation or reimbursement of expenses for the extra-judicial activities permitted by this Part. . .”
The Committee has previously expressed the view that this language allows a full-time judge to receive reasonable compensation for extra-judicial activities (Opinion 90-204 [compensation for lecture]. Opinion 92-05 [compensation for teaching in a private university, including tuition reimbursement for children]).
In view of the fact that the practice of remitting the membership dues in the case of the club’s secretary is one of long-standing, applied to non-judges and judges alike, the Committee sees no ethical barrier to the judge’s receiving this benefit as ancillary to an authorized extra-judicial activity. However, the monetary value of the waived dues must be reported as income pursuant to Section 100.4 (H)(2) of the Rules.