Opinion 89-61

May 25, 1989


Topic:          Family Court Hearing Examiner’s name to be on a commemorative mug sold in fundraiser for volunteer firemen’s association, of which Hearing Examiner is president.


Digest:         Advisory Committee will entertain inquiries from Family Court Hearing Examiners; Hearing Examiner should not permit his name to appear on commemorative mug sold at fundraising affair, because this constitutes impermissible participation in fundraising.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 101.3(b); Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon S(B) (2);        Compliance With The Code of Judicial Conduct


         A Family Court Hearing Examiner, who is President of a Volunteer Firemen's Association that conducts a fundraising affair at which, inter alia, commemorative mugs are sold to raise funds, asks whether the Hearing Examiner’s name (as President of the Association) may be printed on the mugs. The Hearing Examiner does not otherwise participate in the fundraising affair.

         The Committee initially decides that it will exercise its discretion to respond to ethical inquires from Family Court Hearing Examiners. The Committee notes subdivision (b) of section 101.3 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts governing the Advisory Conmmittee on Judicial Ethics (22 NYCRR 101.3(b)), which reads as follows:


(b) The committee may respond to questions concerning judicial ethics posed by persons who exercise quasi-judicial duties in the Unified Court System but who are not judges or justices of the Unified Court System.

         See also Committee Opinion 88-44.

         The initial paragraph of the Compliance section of the Code of Judicial Conduct reads in part as follows:


Anyone, whether or not a lawyer, who is an officer of a judicial system performing judicial functions, including an officer such as a referee in bankruptcy, special master, court commissioner, or magistrate, is a judge for the purpose of this code....

         Canon 5(B)(2) of the Code reads as follows:


(2) A judge should not solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of his office for that purpose, but he may be listed as an officer, director, or trustee of such an organization. He should not be a speaker or the guest of honor at an organization's fund raising events, but he may attend such events.

         In the committee's opinion, if the name of the Hearing Officer is printed on a commemorative mug to be sold for fundraising purposes for the volunteer firemen's organization, it would be analogous to the use by an organization for fundraising purposes of stationery with a judge's name printed on it, which the Committee believes violates the Canon.