May 25, 1989
Topic: Judge invited to attend a fundraising dinner to benefit a legal services organization and to contribute to the organization, which sometimes represents litigants in the judge’s court.
Digest: A judge may attend a fundraising dinner to benefit a legal services organization and may contribute to the organization, since mere attendance and contribution do not involve participation in fundraising for this organization by the judge, and it is of no moment that the organization sometimes represents litigants in the judge’s court.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.5(b)(2)
A judge who, as a law student, once worked for a legal services organization, asks the Committee whether it would be permissible for the judge to buy a ticket to a dinner, and to attend a dinner, that is being held as a fundraising benefit for the organization, and whether the judge also may make a contribution to the organization, although the organization sometimes represents litigants in the judge’s court.
While a judge is prohibited by section 100.5(b)(2) of the Judicial Conduct Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts from participating in fundraising activities for a civic or charitable organization, and from soliciting contributions for such an organization, a judge is not prohibited from attending a fundraising dinner for a charitable or civic organization nor from personally contributing to such organization, and it is of no moment from an ethical point of view that this organization sometimes appears representing litigants in the judge’s court. Section 100.5(b)(2) of the Judicial Conduct Rules of the Chief Administrator, which is applicable to this inquiry, provides in pertinent part:
(2) No judge shall solicit funds for any 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 the guest of honor at an organization's fundraising events, but he or she may attend such events .... [Emphasis supplied].