FUND-RAISING FOR ORGANIZATIONS

Opinion No. 165 (1993)


QUESTIONS:
1. After March 1, 1994, may a full-time Municipal Judge who is a member of a non-profit organization for religious purposes speak to churches for the purpose of raising funds when such judge is not introduced as a judge? If not, may he do so outside his territorial limits?

2. May a judge participate in fund-raising activities of a civic organization in which he is a mere participant of selling items bought by the organization?

ANSWER:

1. No. After March 1, 1994, Canon 5 controlling the Judge's extra-judicial activities will be re-designated Canon 4. Specifically, Canon 5B(2), which addresses this question, remains unchanged as it is re-designated Canon 4C(2) after March 1, 1994. It will continue to provide that a judge shall not solicit funds for any religious, educational, charitable, fraternal or civic organization. While the Canon distinguishes between soliciting funds (prohibited), and being a speaker or guest of honor at fund-raising events (allowed), the Committee does not reach or consider the rationale for that distinction inasmuch as the question specifically addresses speaking "for the purpose of raising funds" and is, therefore, a prohibited solicitation.

Additionally, Canon 2B provides that a judge should not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the interest of others. The fact that the speaker is not introduced as a judge does not remove the prohibition because a judge cannot realistically separate the prestige of judicial office from the judge's personal affairs. (Compare Opinions 73, 136 and 150).

Finally, the activity in question is prohibited, even outside the judge's territorial limits, because there is no exception in Canon 4C(2) based on territorial limits.

2. No. In addition to being a prohibited solicitation as addressed above, the judge's participation would violate Canon 2B by lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the interests of others and would create an opportunity for someone to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge by making generous purchases from him. The fact that the judge would be a "mere participant", or one of many selling the items, would not remove the prohibition under the Canons. See Opinions 10, 11, 16, 25, 59, 131, 150 and 155.