Opinion 96-147

January 23, 1997

NOTE: This opinion has been modified in part by Opinion 16-153, which advises that “Section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i) does not apply “to a judge’s interactions with judicial colleagues over whom he/she has no appellate or supervisory authority, provided the judge makes no reference to his/her judicial office and does not otherwise lend the prestige of judicial office to his/her solicitations” (Opinion 16-153). This exception applies only to personally soliciting funds from judicial colleagues; it does not extend to the judge’s friends. 


Digest:         A judge may participate as a bicyclist in an “AIDS ride”, and may offer assistance as a “crew person”, but may not solicit contributions on behalf of the organization or permit contributions to be made in the judge’s name.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3)(b)(I); Opinion 90-166 (Vol. VI)


         A judge inquires as to the propriety of participating, either as a cyclist, or as a “crew person”, in the “Third Annual Boston-New York AIDS Ride”. This event is described as a three-day, 275 mile bicycle ride between two cities, sponsored by a not-for-profit corporation, and intended to raise funds for organizations that provide AIDS-related services. The participants in the ride make a commitment either to donate $1,500, or to secure such a donation by way of fund-raising from others. A “crew person”, who presumably need not contribute money directly or indirectly, is one who sets up camp, prepares foods, and provides assistance to the riders along the way.

         Section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct states, in part, that a judge “shall not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fundraising activities”. However, certain activities which are only tangentially related to the raising of funds may be permissible. For example, a judge may serve as a “flagger” in a race, help to put canoes in the water, and clean tables at a civic fund-raising event. See Opinion 90-166 (Vol. VI).

         It is the Committee’s opinion that the judge’s participation as a bicyclist in the Boston-New York AIDS ride is not prohibited, provided it is the judge who is contributing the required sum of $1,500. But the judge may not request contributions in connection with this event, even from colleagues or long-time friends. However, the judge may also participate in the event as a volunteer crew person. Similarly, the judge may ride with members of the cycling team and wear a team shirt, provided that any donations solicited or collected by the team are without reference to the judge’s name or identifying rider number.