Opinion: 99-08

January 28, 1999

Digest: A judge should not allow the judge's name to be listed as an honorary member of a bar association's ad hoc committee where the sole purpose of the committee is to invite people to participate in a fund-raising event.

Rule:  22 NYCRR 100.4 (C)(3)(b)(ii) and (iv);
           Opinion 96-20 (Vol. XIV); 96-78 (Vol. XIV).


            The inquiring judge has been invited to serve as an honorary committee member of a local bar association's public service auction committee. The judge indicates that the purpose of membership on the honorary committee is solely to allow honorary committee members' names to be used on invitations to be sent to the community. The invitations solicit the recipient's participation in a number of fund-raising events, including an auction of various prizes.

            The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct allow the name of a judge to be listed as an officer, director or trustee on an educational, religious, charitable, cultural, fraternal or civic organization's letterhead and also allows that letterhead to be used for fund-raising purposes in certain circumstances. 22 NYCRR 100.4 (C)(3)(b)(iv); Opinion 96-20 (Vol. XIV). However, this Committee has advised that a judge should not allow his/her name to be listed on the letterhead of a bar association committee letter where the sole purpose of the committee and the letter is the active solicitation of contributions. Opinion 96-78 (Vol. XIV) [solicitation for a memorial scholarship fund].

            As in Opinion 96-78, (Vol. XIV), the intended use of the judge's name on the invitation is solely for fund-raising purposes. Such use would constitute the prohibited "use of the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising." 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(iv). Accordingly, we advise that the inquirer should not allow his/her name to be listed on the invitation as an honorary bar association committee member.