October 9, 2020
This responds to your inquiry (20-103) asking whether, as a full-time quasi-judicial official, you may serve on the board of a local bar association’s charitable foundation. According to the inquiry, the board is the charitable arm of the bar association which holds several charity events and votes on the use of charitable funds through grant awards.1 You indicate that your involvement would be limited to assisting in planning events and selecting which organizations would receive grant funds.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct permit a full-time judge2 to serve as an officer or director of a bar foundation provided that he or she does not personally participate in fund-raising or permit the prestige of the judicial office to be used for fund-raising purposes (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C]). In addition, the Committee has advised that a judge may be a member of a committee which recommends the award of grants for charitable purposes, again, provided the judge refrain from personally participating in any direct fund-raising activity.
Accordingly, as long as you do not personally participate in fund-raising, use the prestige of your quasi-judicial position for fund-raising purposes, or engage in impermissible political activity, you may participate to the limited extent of assisting in planning events and selecting organizations to receive grant money.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 19-55; 13-122; and 97-14 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice (Ret.)
Appellate Div. First Dep’t
Margaret T. Walsh Supreme Court Justice
1 Some of the organizations supported by the bar association’s foundation are teen court, DEA fund, and the legal diversity clerkship program.
2 A support magistrate is a quasi-judicial position, subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct (see 22 NYCRR 100.6[A]; Opinion 18-71).