JUDGE'S DONATION TO
FUND RAISING AUCTIONS

Opinion No. 205 (1997)


QUESTION NO. 1: May judges participate in county bar association fund raiser "auctions" by donating such items as dinners with the judge or golfing rounds with the judge, to be awarded to the highest bidder?

ANSWER: No. This conduct would violate Canon 2B. A fund raiser auctioning dinner or golf with a judge would lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others. It would also convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.

A judge is allowed to participate in civic and charitable activities it those activities do not reflect adversely upon the judge's impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties. Canon 4C. A judge is prohibited by Canon 4C(2) from soliciting funds for any educational, religious, charitable, financial or civic organization. See Opinion 165.

QUESTION NO. 2: May judges participate in political party fund raiser "auctions" by donating items to be auctioned off where the proceeds benefit the sponsoring political party?

ANSWER: No. The conduct would violate Canon 2B as stated in the answer to Question 1 because this would land the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others. It would also convey or let others convey the impression they are in a special position to influence the judge. Participation in "political party fund raiser auctions" where the prestige of the judicial office is not used is permissible. Where the items donated are attributable to a judge such as dinner or golf with a judge, a violation of Canon 2B would occur.

A judge may indicate support for a political parry and attend political events. Canon 5(3). Canon 4C(2) prohibits solicitation of funds only for education, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organizations. Under a previous codification of this section, political solicitation was also prohibited. This change appears to allow political solicitations. See Opinion 162. A judge may participate in political parry fund raisers but the level of participation is limited by Canon 2B.