Opinion: 00-23

March 9, 2000

Digest: A judge may accept an award at a fund-raising luncheon sponsored by a bar association and may permit his or her name to appear on the materials publicizing the event, which include a solicitation of contributions to support the luncheon and the work of the organization.

Rule:  22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(1)(ii);
           Opinions 98-50 (Vol. XVI);
           89-39 (Vol. III).


            A judge has been selected to be one of five recipients of an award to be presented at a luncheon to be held at the annual meeting of a national bar association. The award is to be given by the association's Commission on Women. Materials announcing the awards include a solicitation of financial contributions in order to defray the cost of the event, and to support the work of the Commission. The inquiring judge seeks the "Advisory Committee's guidance on whether I may allow my name to appear on materials publicizing the event."

            The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct expressly allow judges to speak at, or be guests of honor at any "court employee organization, bar association or law school function" 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(ii). This includes fund-raising events of those entities and thus is an exception to the general rule which prohibits judges from speaking at, or being guests of honor at an organization's fund-raising events. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(1)(ii).

            In applying the foregoing rules, the Committee has stated that a judge may present a special recognition award at a fund-raising dinner held by a specialized association of lawyers and judges involved in the fight against breast cancer.  Opinion 98-50 (Vol. XVI). The invitation in that instance included a journal solicitation.

            The Committee has also advised that where a judge is the guest of honor at a bar association fund-raising event, it is not unethical to permit the use of the judge's name in a fund-raising journal published in connection with the event. Opinion 89-39 (Vol. III). The Committee noted that the use of the judge's name in the journal did not constitute active fund-raising.

            In accordance with the foregoing, the Committee is of the opinion that the judge may accept the award at the bar association function specified in the inquiry, and may permit use of the judge's name in the materials publicizing the event which include a solicitation of funds to support the work of the Commission and defray the cost of the event. Participation in the event in the manner described does not constitute prohibited participation in fund-raising. As stated in Opinion 89-39 (Vol. III), such bar association involvement "not only is permitted to the judge, but is desirable and is to be encouraged for the improvement of the administration of justice."