June 23, 2021
This responds to your inquiry (21-109) asking whether, if elected as a full-time judge, you may serve on the board of directors of a local not-for-profit organization which provides educational programs to children and adults with autism. You indicate that you have already advised the organization that, if elected, you would not be able to engage in any fund-raising activities and “would be required to resign if [you] became a judge in a role in which [you] had the power to make referrals to [the organization].”
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct permit a full-time judge to serve as an officer or director of a not-for-profit charitable or civic organization provided the judge is not personally involved in any fund-raising activities (although the judge may assist in planning fund-raising activities), does not render legal advice, does not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance any private interest, and the entity is not likely to be engaged in proceedings that ordinarily would come before the court or would interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties. In addition, a judge may not serve on a board of an organization to which the judge has the power to make referrals.
Since you indicate that you have already advised the organization that you could not engage in fund-raising activities and you would have to resign if you had the authority to make referrals to this organization, and, seeing no other likely conflicts, we conclude it will be ethically permissible to serve on the board of directors if you are elected to a full-time judgeship, subject to the other enumerated limitations.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 21-79; 15-213; and 07-81 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
Supreme Court Justice
Acting Supreme Court Justice