Opinion 90-135

September 18, 1990


Digest:         A full-time judge may not serve as leader of a delegation of a legal study group visiting Europe under the sponsorship of a private foundation where the judge’s and the judge’s spouse’s expenses would be paid depending on the number of people who participate in the trip, and where the judge’s name and title would be used to solicit participants.


Rules:          22 NYCRR §100.5(b) and (c).


         A judge inquires whether it is appropriate to lead a delegation of judges and lawyers to Europe as a study group sponsored by a private foundation. The judge’s and the judge’s spouse’s expenses on the trip would be covered if a certain number of participants register for the trip. In addition, the organization sponsoring the trip plans to use the judge’s name and title for the invitational mailing to prospective participants.

         Section 100.5(b)(2) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides that, “No judge shall solicit funds for any education, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of the office for that purpose...” Section 100.5(c)(1) provides that judges should refrain from financial and business dealings that “exploit judicial postion.”

         The judge may not serve as a leader of this delegation within the present format of the arrangements, particularly in light of the organization’s plan to use the judge’s name and title to solicit customers for the trip, which would constitute an impermissible use of the prestige of the judge’s office for the organization’s financial advantage. Also impermissible is the judge’s or judge’s spouse receiving a free or discounted trip if an adequate number of people sign up for the trip, as this might appear to involve the exploitation of judicial office for the judge’s private gain.