July 12, 2018
Your inquiry (18-64) asks if you may attend your former law firm’s private anniversary dinner for current and former employees. You are concerned the invitation extends beyond ordinary social hospitality based on the event’s venue. The firm does not appear before you, and it is very unlikely any of the lawyers will appear before you.
The Committee has previously advised a judge may accept a gift, such as free admission to an event, under 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(5)(h) provided “the donor is not a party or other person who has come or is likely to come or whose interests have come or are likely to come before the judge.” If the gift’s value exceeds $150, the judge must comply with the reporting duties under the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[D][h] and 100.4[H]). Under these circumstances, a judge may wish to ensure his/her presence at the event as a guest of honor is neither advertised nor used for any potential fund-raising aspect of the event (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C][b][ii]).
Enclosed, for your convenience, is Opinion 16-35 which addresses this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Div., First Dep’t (Ret.)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Family Court Judge
Acting Justice, Supreme Court