Monday, August 15, 2011
A recent Judicial Ethics Committee opinion from Massachusetts:
You have received an invitation from a bar association to participate in a conference. Specifically, the bar association has asked you to serve as advisor to the conference, to moderate a bench bar panel, and to attend a bench bar reception. The bar association has also indicated that you are welcome at any other events, including a ball. You ask if participating in these activities is consistent with your obligations under the Code. The Committee believes that it is.
The advice has caveats, including:
The Committee also cautions you that while you may attend the ball or any other conference event when bar association leadership presents the scholarship and publicly acknowledges the sponsors, Commentary to Section 4C(3)(b), you may not participate in those fund-raising-related events by playing an obvious role in connection with that presentation and acknowledgment. It is on this basis that the Committee's warning in CJE Opinion 92-2 that a judge could not attend an event that had "a dual function of supporting both a charitable cause and a political cause" does not apply.
Therefore, the conference is structured in such a way that your participation in the educational aspect is consistent with the Code in that it will not give the impression that you are participating in or using the prestige of judicial office for the fund-raising aspect...