Opinion No. 152 (1993)

QUESTION: May a judge serve as trustee for a Cemetery Trust Association that is non-profit, meets once a year to approve investments made, and to advise on future investments?

ANSWER: A judge may serve, but should not approve investments made or advise on future investments. Canon 5B(3) provides that a judge should not give investment advice to such an organization, but may serve on its board of directors or trustees even though it has the responsibility for approving investment decisions. The same canon provides that a judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee, or nonlegal advisor of an organization not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members, subject to the following limitations:

1. A judge should not serve if it is likely the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would come before her or would be regularly or frequently engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.

2. A judge shall not solicit funds for such organization but may be listed as a trustee and may be a speaker or guest of honor at an organization's fund raising events.

3. A judge should not give investment advice to such an organization. Canon 5B provides that a judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon her impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties, and Canon 2B provides that a judge should not lend the prestige of her office to advance the private interests of herself or others. Subject to these conditions, such service is allowed under the code. See Judicial Ethics Opinions Nos. 57, 70, and 144.