MEMBERSHIP, ADVISORY BOARD NON-PROFIT CORPORATION
Opinion No. 57 (1981)*
QUESTION: May a judge serve as an advisory board member to a private
non-profit corporation whose purpose is to operate a home to house and offer counseling to
battered wives? The Judicial Ethics Committee is informed that the jurisdiction of the
court of the judge is limited to misdemeanor cases, that the judge's name will not be used
on any corporate stationery, that the judge will act only as an advisor to the corporate
board and will not participate in corporate decisions or day-to-day operations of the
corporation, and that the judge has never had an assault case involving an assault by a
husband on his wife in his court.
ANSWER: Canon 5 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, as amended February 19, 1980, states that a judge should regulate his extra-judicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with his judicial duties. Canon 5B sets forth the limitations extra-judicial civic and charitable activities of a judge, as follows:
Canon 5B "Civic and Charitable Activities: A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon his [or her] impartiality or interfere with the performance of his [or her] judicial duties. A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee, or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members, subject to the following limitations:
(1) A judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before him [or her] or will be regularly [or frequently] engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.
(2) A judge should not solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, political, or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of his [or her] office for that purpose, but may be listed as an officer, director, delegate, or trustee of such an organization. [A judge] should not be a speaker or the guest of honor at an organization's fund-raising events, but he may attend such events.
(3) A judge should not give investment advice to such an organization, but may serve on its board of directors or trustees even though it has the responsibility for approving investment decisions."
The Committee is of the opinion that a judge may serve as an advisory member to a private non-profit corporation whose purpose is to operate a home to house and offer counseling to battered wives provided his activities do not contravene the provisions of Canon 5B of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
*Canon 5B(2) was amended effective December 19, 1989.