October 25, 2001
A judge may serve as volunteer chairperson of marshals at a golf tournament
which is, in part, a charitable event, provided that the judge is not identified
as a judge by title or by use of the term "Hon."
22 NYCRR 100.2(C); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i);
Opinions 90-166 (Vol. VI); 96-147 (Vol. XV).
A judge inquires if he/she may continue to participate as the volunteer chairperson of marshals in a Senior Professional Golf Tournament. The judge has participated in the event since its inception 15 years ago. A portion of the purse is donated to a local charity, but the judge does not participate in either fund-raising or the selection of the charity. The judge's sole participation is to assign and supervise course marshals on the golf course during play. During the tournament the judge wears an identification badge which bears his/her name and position as chairperson of marshals. The judge's name is preceded by "Hon."
Although section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct states, in pertinent part, that a judge shall not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities, this does not mean that a judge is barred from any and all participation in such events. For example, the Committee has previously allowed a judge to serve as a "flagger" in a race, help put canoes in the water and clean tables at a civic fund-raising event. See, Opinion 90-166 (Vol. VI). Similarly, in Opinion 96-147 (Vol. XV) the Committee advised that a judge may participate as a crew volunteer in a major charitable bicycle race as long as the judge did not personally solicit donations and was not identified as a judge. In neither instance was the judge involved in solicitation of funds or even peripherally in financial transactions attendant upon the event. Nor was their judicial status being used in any way connected to the event. Thus, it is the Committee's opinion that the inquiring judge, in this instance, should be allowed to continue to serve as the chairperson of marshals for the golf tournament. But the judge should not use the term "Hon." (or "Judge") on his/her name badge, or in any other tournament materials, since there is no purpose behind such designation other than to identify the wearer as a judge, which would, in our view, impermissibly lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the golf association or its charitable endeavor. 22 NYCRR 100.2(C).