June 27, 2001
Digest: Although a judge may participate in a group solidarity mission to Israel which is sponsored by a charitable and philanthropic organization, the judge should not allow his or her name to be used in promotional materials soliciting participation by others in the trip.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.2(C); 100.4(C)(3); Opinions 90-135 (Vol. VI); 96-58 (Vol. XIV).
A judge inquires about the propriety of allowing the judge’s name to be disseminated as a participant in a solidarity mission to Israel. The mission is sponsored by a charitable and philanthropic organization and involves a group visit to Israel. Local county officials, candidates for political office from both major parties and other dignitaries are participating. There would be a press announcement, and a letter is to be sent to other persons associated with the organization soliciting their participation and featuring the names of the judge and others who will be going. The judge is paying all personal expenses and states that there is no special treatment involved.
Although the judge may certainly participate in the activities of the organization in question (22 NYCRR 100.4[C]), including joining others in a trip to Israel, the use of the judge's name to promote participation by others is not permissible. Obviously, the solicitation of possible participants is intended to assist in promoting the interests of the organization. There is nothing wrong with such an effort. But, section 100.2(C) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct forbids a judge from lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others. 22 NYCRR 100.2(C). Featuring the judge as one of those making the trip achieves that end. It therefore follows that the judge should not allow his or her name to be used for such purposes. See Opinions 90-135 (Vol. VI), 96-58 (Vol. XIV).