October 11, 1996
Digest: Judges may participate in a countywide raffle (assuming its lawfulness) which requires enrolling in a payroll deduction program and is part of a state-wide government employees’ charitable organization’s fund-raising initiative. A participating judge may not allow his/her name to be used in endorsement of the initiative or become involved in personally soliciting funds for the charity.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i)
Judges of a county have been asked by the various court clerks in their county to participate in a raffle by enrolling in a payroll deduction program of a state-wide, charitable organization’s fund-raising initiative targeting state employees, including Unified Court System non-judicial personnel and judges. Judges and non-judicial personnel in the county w ho contribute through a year-round payroll deduction program will be awarded chances in a drawing for a series of prizes redeemable at specific local businesses. Inquiry is made regarding the propriety of the judges participating in this raffle.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct allow a judge to contribute to charities and to participate in charitable activities, subject to certain limitations and exceptions. Among those-limitations is the prohibition against personally participating in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i). A judge, therefore, may contribute to the charity sponsoring the raffle and may participate in the raffle as a contributor to the same extent that any other Unified Court System employee may participate. A judge may not, however, allow his/her name to be used in endorsement of the charity or the initiative or become involved in personally soliciting funds for the charity.
The Committee expresses no views regarding the legality of any raffle. If the raffle is not lawful, then, of course, a judge must not participate.