April 25, 1991
Digest: A judge may accept an unsolicited nominal gift from a student, in appreciation for the extra time the judge has spent explaining the law to the student.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.5(c)(3).
A judge inquires whether it is permissible for the judge to accept an unsolicited non-monetary gift of under $25 in value from a high school student, who has earned school credit for attending the judge's court several hours a week and wishes to show appreciation for the extra time the judge has spent explaining the legal background and theory of the cases observed.
Section 100.5(c)(3) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator prohibits a judge from accepting a gift, bequest or loan from anyone, under certain conditions. The restrictions set forth do not apply to situations where the judge receives a gift of nominal value, as a token of appreciation from a student, for the extra time the judge has spent teaching the student the law. This situation appears to be no different from the receipt of an ordinary social hospitality gift, which is permissible under section 100.5(c)(3)(ii). Thus, the judge may accept the gift.