April 25, 1991
Digest: Tickets for a non-fundraising dinner of a judge's association should be sold directly by the association, rather than by individual members.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§1OO.2(a) and (c).
A full-time judge, who belongs to a judicial association, asks whether the association may sell tickets to non-members for an annual non-fundraising dinner honoring selected members. The inquirer also asks whether and how the checks must be written if the ticket sales are permitted. The non-member purchasers may include other judges, lawyers, political leaders and officials, spouses, and friends. The ticket price would cover the cost of the event.
The Rules of the Chief Administrator concerning judicial ethics do not prevent the buying or selling of tickets to the described event if no fundraising is involved. However, members should not sell tickets to non-members to avoid the impression that a judge is using the prestige and power of judicial office to sell the tickets in order to advance the status or careers of the members being honored. Having purchasers, especially lawyers, buy tickets directly from judges would create an appearance of impropriety, suggesting that undue influence was either used or implied in the transaction.
Therefore, the association, not any individual named judge, should solicit prospective purchasers. In addition, all checks for the purchase of tickets should be made payable to and sent directly to the association.