Opinion No. 150 (1992)

QUESTION: Should a judge permit the judge's name to be included in a list of the members of the "Host Committees on an invitation to a fund raising event?

ANSWER: No. Canon 5B(2) provides that a judge shall not solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, political, or civic organization.* Canon 10 provides that the word "shall" when used in the Code means compulsion. The Committee concludes that if a judge should agree to be listed as a host on an invitation to a fund raising event, that would constitute soliciting funds for the cause benefited by the event and, therefore, would violate Canon 5B(2).

Canon 2B is also relevant. It provides that a judge should not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the interests of others. Such use of a judge's name would use, or at least would give the appearance of using, judicial prestige for fund raising even if the invitation does not identify the host judge as a judge, because a judge cannot realistically separate the prestige of judicial office from the judge's personal affairs. (Compare Opinions 73 and 136.)

Canon 2B also provides that a judge should not permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. By hosting a Fund raising event a judge would create an opportunity for a litigant to attempt to curry favor by contributing generously, and then to convey such an impression.

The applicable principles are also addressed in Opinions 11 (1976), 16 (1977), 41 (1979), 61 (1980), 59 and 60 (1982), and 131 (1989). The same rules apply to judges' personal participation in public fund raising activities for organizations devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. Canon 4C.


*Committee Footnote: As the Cannon 5B(2) distinction between soliciting funds, and being a speaker or guest of honor at such an event, is quite specific, the Committee does not reach or consider the rationale for that distinction.