Opinion: 99-92

June 18, 1999

Digest: A judge should not participate in the formulation of an action plan of an association that advocates on behalf of alcoholism and substance abuse providers throughout the State and is seeking additional State funding for its members.

Rule: 100.4(C)(3); 100.4(C)(3)(a)(i); 100.4(C)(3)(b)(i).


            A judge inquires as to the propriety of becoming an active participant in the formulation of an action plan by the Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of New York State. The letter forwarded to the Committee indicates that the Association consists of a large number of providers of alcohol and substance abuse services throughout the State. The letter also indicates that the purpose of asking the judge to participate in an Addiction Policy Roundtable is "to join forces and mobilize a statewide advocacy effort" designed, among other things, to solicit funds from the State government. The term "advocacy" is repeatedly used in the letter of invitation.

            Although section 100.4(C)(3) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct permits a judge to become a member of various non-profit organizations, subparagraph (a)(i), prohibits a judge from doing so if the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would come before the judge. As a town justice, it can be assumed that matters involving alcohol and substance abuse would regularly come before the court and involve the organizations which are part of the Association, either as entities to which defendants are referred as a condition of sentencing or as advocates for services on behalf of defendants. Subparagraph (b)(i) of the Rule also prohibits a judge from engaging in solicitation of funds or other fund-raising. Although not made explicit, the letter seems to indicate that the participation of the judge in the advocacy effort is an ingredient of a concerted effort to seek additional State funding for the many different providers that comprise the Association.

            For all of the above reasons, we advise that the judge should not become a participant in the efforts of the Association, as described.