December 11, 1997
Digest: A judge may perform the civic duty of swearing in newly-elected officials, and attend a municipally funded induction ceremony, but may not attend a "Gala Ball" for a newly- elected official, which is for the purpose of post-campaign fund-raising.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.1, 100.4(B) and 100.5(A)(1)(c),(d),(g),(h),(i).
A judge has been invited to preside at a swearing in ceremony of various local officials and inquires as to the appropriateness of performing this function and attending, thereafter, a municipally funded induction ceremony. The swearing in of elected officials is traditionally a civic function afforded the judiciary. The integrity and independence of the judiciary are only strengthened by this activity. 22 NYCRR 100.1. As the municipally funded induction ceremony is non-partisan in nature, it also may be considered a civic function, and is not violative of any ethical rule. 22 NYCRR 100.4(B).
The judge also inquires as to the appropriateness of attending a "Gala Ball" on behalf of one of the newly-elected officials. The judge advises that the ticket price is $250.00, which is to be utilized for post-campaign fund raising purposes to pay debt incurred by the candidate during the campaign. Since the inquirer was not a candidate, and is therefore not relying on a claim of being within the "Window Period," attendance at such an event is clearly prohibited political activity under section 100.5(A)(1)(c),(d),(g),(h) and (i), of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.