October 10, 2014
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
This responds to your inquiry (14-127) asking whether it is ethically permissible for you to conduct a book drive or to solicit publishers or book sellers to donate books for use as a sentencing tool in certain cases. As a condition of parole or probation, you would require a defendant to read a book and provide you with a report about it.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a judge from engaging in the solicitation of funds or in any fund-raising activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C][b][I], [iv]). This prohibition includes soliciting non-cash or in-kind donations (see Opinion 94-58 [Vol. XII]). Accordingly, it is not permissible for you to solicit publishers or book sellers or to hold a drive to collect books.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 97-83 (Vol. XVI); 97-48 (Vol. XV); and 94-58 (Vol. XII) which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)