June 18, 1999
A judge who serves as chairman of the board of directors of a not-for-profit
community organization may be listed on the organization's letterhead,
sign correspondence on behalf of the organization, and attend and speak
at meetings of the organization, subject to the limitations set forth in
the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.
Matter of Shilling, 51 NY2d 397 (1980);
22 NYCRR 100.2(C); 100.4(C)(3);
100.4(C)(3)(b)(i), (ii), (iii) and (iv); 100.5(A)(1).
A judge who has been asked to be chairman of the board of directors of a not-for-profit community organization, seeks guidance as to the permissible activities that the judge may engage in on behalf of the organization. The advice given below addresses the specific concerns expressed by the judge.
The judge's name, including the honorific "Honorable" before the judge's name may be listed on the letterhead as long as other members of the board are similarly designated. 22 NYCRR 100.3(C)(3)(b)(iv). But, the judge's judicial office, e.g., NYC Civil Court Judge, Judge of the County Court, etc. should not be specified.
The judge may sign appropriate correspondence on behalf of the organization in the judge's organizational capacity, but may not use his or her judicial designation or title. Signing appropriate correspondence by an active officer, director or trustee, is foreseeable service as contemplated by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. 22 NYCRR 100.4(B)(3). However, the judge may not sign any correspondence soliciting funds or membership for the organization or which may involve political or legal issues. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i) and (iii); 100.(4)(G); 100.5(A)(1).
The judge is not prohibited from speaking publicly at the organization's
events, but may not be the speaker or guest of honor if the event involves
fund-raising or political activities. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(ii); 100.5(A)(1).
The judge should not meet with or attend meetings with potential donors
(individuals, foundations, politicians, federal, state or municipal officials,
etc.) regarding fund-raising. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i). Additionally,
the judge should not meet with representatives of federal, state or municipal
agencies that have monitoring, investigative, auditing or enforcement authority
over the organization. To do so would lead to the perception that the judge
is lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests
of the organization. 22 NYCRR 100.2(C); see e.g. Matter of Shilling,
51 NY2d 397 (1980).