October 18, 2007
Digest: A judge may serve on a law school reunion committee and may contact and encourage former classmates to attend the reunion, provided that the judge’s role does not also involve fund-raising activities or otherwise interfere with his/her judicial duties.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(A)(3); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i); Opinions 02-79; 02-46.
A judge’s law school has asked him/her to serve on a reunion committee. The judge explains that members of the committee normally are asked to contact classmates to encourage attendance and to participate in the reunion gift campaign. The judge is aware that as a judge he/she is prohibited from personally soliciting funds, and therefore asks if he/she may serve on the committee by contacting classmates and encouraging them to attend the festivities if he/she does not also solicit funds towards the reunion gift.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct permit a judge to participate in civic, charitable and educational activities, and to assist in “planning fund-raising,” but prohibit them from personally participating in soliciting funds or in other fund-raising activities. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i). Participation in extra-judicial activities also must not reflect adversely on the performance of judicial duties. 22 NYCRR 100.4(A)(3). Accordingly, this Committee has previously opined that a judge may serve on a law school reunion committee provided the judge’s activities do not involve fund-raising or otherwise interfere with the judge’s judicial duties. Opinions 02-79; 02-46.
Based upon the facts presented by the inquiring judge, he/she may be a member of a law school reunion committee by calling classmates and encouraging them to attend reunion events, so long as the judge’s participation does not interfere with the judge’s official duties; and, further, that the judge, in contacting classmates to attend, does not include any reference to any specific fund raising dinners or events that may be taking place during the reunion.