Opinion No. 85 (1986)*

QUESTION: May a judge serve on a charitable educational trust (consisting of 5 trustees) created for the sole purpose of funding student summer educational internships to study in a specific United States Congressman's District office during the summer. The trust will bear the name of a former Congressman of the district who is now deceased. The trustees will not be involved in fund-raising and their names will not be used in solicitation attempts.

ANSWER: Canon 5 admonishes judges to regulate their extra-judicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with their judicial duties. However, Canon 5B expressly states that judges may serve as trustees of an educational or charitable organization not conducted for economic or political advantage of its members, subject to the following limitations enumerated in Canons 5B(1), B(2), and B(3). Judges should not serve: (1) if the organization would regularly appear in any court in adversary proceedings; and (2) they should not solicit funds, or use or permit the use of the prestige of their offices for that purpose, or be a speaker or guest of honor at an organization's fund-raising events; and (3) they may not give investment advice to such organization even though they may serve on a board which is responsible for approving investment decisions. Subject to the limitations set forth in Canons 5B(1), B(2), and B(3), the Committee is of the opinion that it would not be a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct to serve as a trustee in the described organization.


*Canon 5B(2) was amended effective December 19, 1989.