January 14, 2020
This responds to your inquiry (19-108) asking if you may solicit funds from other judges in your Judicial District for a “Wellness Fund” to be used by the local Wellness Committee to fund social events for judges and employees to promote workplace collegiality and a positive work environment. Neither you nor a fellow Judge on the committee have any supervisory or appellate authority over the other judges you wish to solicit.
We previously advised it is permissible to solicit funds from judicial colleagues over whom a judge has no supervisory or appellate authority (see Opinion 18-53) when it is non-coercive and clearly motivated by ordinary workplace collegiality (see Opinions 18-53; 16-153; and 12-106). However, the judge must not solicit or accept funds from non-judges (see Opinion 18-53 and 16-153).
You also ask if it is permissible to use the court’s email system for this purpose. We believe, since this is an internal solicitation exclusively for the judges’ and court employees’ benefit, rather than an outside charity, the propriety of using the court’s email system is primarily a question of administrative policy (see Opinion 14-159).
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 18-53;16-153;14-159; and 12-106 for your review, which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc Justice
Appellate Div., First Dept. (Ret)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Supreme Court Justice