Opinion 05-54

June 9, 2005


Digest:         Under the circumstances, a judge may participate in a fund-raising event sponsored by a not-for-profit veteran’s organization to the extent of reading aloud the names of fallen service members, provided that the judge’s participation is unadvertised and unannounced prior to the event.


Rule:            22 NYCRR 100.4(A)(1), (3); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(ii).


         A part-time City Court Judge requests an opinion as to whether the judge may participate in an event sponsored by a not-for-profit veterans organization at which the judge and others will read aloud the names of fallen service members. Although prior to the event the organization will be soliciting donations from area residents to support these memorial activities, admission will not be charged, nor will the judge participate in any fund-raising activities. It is intended that the inquiring judge is to be recognized by name in a press release in advance of the event, but his/her judicial title will not be mentioned.

         Judges are permitted by section 100.4(A) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct to participate in civic and charitable activities “that do not cast doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge” and do not “interfere with the performance of judicial duties. . .” 22 NYCRR 100.4(A)(1); (3). Reading the names of deceased service members at a civic activity sponsored by a war veterans organization would ordinarily fall within the scope of permissible activities as defined under the Rules. And, although section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(ii) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibits a judge from speaking at a fund-raising event, the solicitation of donations by the organization prior to the event does not, in our opinion, adversely affect the ability of the judge to participate as stated, provided the organization does not announce or advertise the judge’s participation before the event. This means that the judge should not permit his/her name to be used in a press release, even if the judge’s judicial title is not included.