Opinion: 01-109

October 25, 2001

Digest:  A judicial hearing officer should not solicit contributions on behalf of a church or sell tickets to a Rotary Club dinner which is a fund-raiser.

Rule:  22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i); 100.6(A);
          Opinions 89-61 (Vol. III); 94-44 (Vol. XII);
          95-64 (Vol. XIII); 95-66 (Vol. XIII); 97-03 (Vol. XV).


            The inquirer, a judicial hearing officer, asks whether the rules pertaining to the extra-judicial activities of judges, which forbid the active solicitation of contributions on behalf of a charity would also apply to judicial hearing officers.

            In the opinion of the Committee, section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct which prohibits judges, regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time judges, from personally participating in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities, applies to judicial hearing officers. Under section 100.6(A) of the Rules judicial hearing officers are required to "comply with [the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct] in the performance of their judicial duties and otherwise so far as practical and appropriate use such rules as guides to their conduct." 22 NYCRR 100.6(A). Thus, the Committee has previously applied the Rules that prevent judges from engaging in political activities (22 NYCRR 100.5) to judicial hearing officers. See Opinions 95-66 (Vol. XIII); 95-64 (Vol. XIII); 94-44 (Vol. XII).

            The Committee has also had occasion to consider the applicability to Family Court Hearing Examiners of the Rules limiting the charitable activities of judges (22 NYCRR 100.4[C][3][b]), and concluded that, in light of their quasi-judicial status they, too, fall within the terms of section 100.6(A), and are bound by the prohibition on solicitation of funds and participation in fund-raising. See Opinions 97-03 (Vol. XV); 89-61 (Vol. III). We now determine that judicial hearing officers are likewise bound by the same prohibition. Accordingly, the inquirer should not solicit pledges of contributions on behalf of a church, or sell tickets for a dinner which is a Rotary Club fund-raiser. Both undertakings would constitute impermissible fund-raising activities under section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i) of the Rules.