Topic: May a judge present a gift of books to a local college on behalf of a charitable organization of which the judge is a member?
Digest: There is no prohibition against a judge being an officer or director of a civic or charitable organization , nor is he or she barred from presenting a gift from such organization to a recipient at a public affair, provided said affair does not involve fundraising.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.5
A district court judge, who is an officer of a charitable organization which intends to make a gift of educational material to a local college library, has inquired whether he may make the presentation on behalf of the charitable organization at a public affair, such as a dinner. He states that no fundraising would occur at the affair.
Rule 100.5 (b) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts provides, in pertinent part:
(b) Civic and Charitable Activities. A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties. A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee, or nonlegal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization, not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members, subject to the following limitations:
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(2) No judge shall solicit funds for an educational, religious , charitable, fraternal or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of the office for that purpose... No judge shall be a speaker or guest of honor at an organization’s fundraising events, but he or she may attend such events . . . .
Under this Rule, a judge may be an officer of a charitable organization, and, since the affair at which the presentation is to be made will not involve fundraising, the judge may attend and present the gift to the college.
This opinion is advisory only and is not binding on the Commission on Judicial Conduct or the Office of Court Administration.