GIFTS TO JUDGES FOR CATASTROPHIC LOSS

Opinion No. 215 (1997)


QUESTION 1: May a judge or a judge's family, who has suffered a catastrophic loss, accept gifts of money from individuals who work in the courthouse or practice in the judge's court?

ANSWER: Yes and no. Canon 4D(4)(c) clearly states neither a judge nor his family may accept gifts from anyone whose interests have come or are likely to come before the judge. Therefore, a judge may not accept gifts from lawyers or parties who have come or might come before the. court.

The Canon 4D(4)(c) also states that a judge or his family may accept gifts from individuals whose interests have not come and are not likely to come before the Court. It would seem, then, that the judge and family could accept gifts from non-lawyer friends and acquaintances who happen to work in the courthouse but have no interest that has or might come before the Court.

QUESTION 2: May a judge accept gifts he would otherwise be prohibited from receiving if they are placed in a blind trust.

ANSWER: No. The prohibition against accepting gifts is clear- A judge may not accept gifts from ANY persons whose interests have to may come before the court, whatever the form!