Opinion 04-133

December 2, 2004


Digest:         A judge who participated in a charity’s educational video without knowing that it was also to be used for fund-raising should register his/her objection to such use of the video to the charity, in writing, but is not obligated to take any further action.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(iv); Opinion 03-92.


         A full-time judge participated in an educational video developed by a local not-for-profit organization that provides parent education programs and supervised parental visitation. Prior to agreeing to participate in the video-taping, the judge was assured that the video would be used solely for educational purposes. Shortly after the tape was developed, the judge learned that it would also be used by the organization for fund-raising purposes. Within days of the discovery, the judge telephoned and sent a letter to the organization requesting that the videotape be used for educational purposes only. The judge now inquires if any further steps need be taken in regard to this situation.

         The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit the use of a judge’s name or photograph for charitable fund-raising purposes. (22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)[iv]). Thus, the question is whether to avoid any appearance of having violated this section further action by the judge is required.

         This Committee has previously opined that a judge whose photograph appeared in a charity’s fund raising brochure without authorization should register his/her objection to the charity, in writing. Opinion 03-92. This was done both in that instance and in the one presently before us. Accordingly, this Committee re-confirms its prior determination that a judge meets his or her ethical obligation by promptly objecting to the use of the judge’s name and/or image for fund-raising purposes, in writing, to the charity. Opinion 03-92. Having objected in writing the judge is not obligated to take any further steps.