Serving as President of Booster Club for a High School.
February 7, 1992
The Advisory Committee on Ethical Opinions for Clerks of Court considered your letter of November 26, 1991 at its December meeting. Your letter asks whether you may, consistent with The Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Courts, Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:12, serve as the President of the Booster Club for High School in , the town in which you reside.
You have advised that the position would involve soliciting contributions to the Club from area individuals and businesses. The funds so raised are used to support sports programs at the High School. The town of itself is not within the jurisdiction of the District Court in which you serve as First Assistant Clerk, but is adjacent to towns within that District Court's jurisdiction. You have advised that you cannot say whether or not any of the individuals or businesses solicited may come before the District Court in which you serve.
Canon 5(B) of the Code provides that a Clerk-Magistrate may participate in civic and charitable activities including the solicitation of funds, unless there is a substantial likelihood that members of the organization will come before the court in which the Clerk-Magistrate serves, and provided that there is no use of the Clerk-Magistrate's office or the prestige of the office for the solicitation of funds, nor any solicitation of the staff. The Canon provides, in relevant part:
"A Clerk may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely on the Clerk-Magistrate's impartiality or interfere with the performance of his or her official duties. A Clerk-Magistrate may serve as an officer . . . of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members, subject to the following limitations:
(1) A Clerk-Magistrate shall not participate if there is a substantial likelihood that the organization, or a significant number of members of the organization, will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the Clerk-Magistrate of the court in which the Clerk-Magistrate serves.
(2) A Clerk-magistrate may solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization, but shall not use or permit the use of the prestige of the office for that purpose or solicit his or her staff for that purpose. . . .
It is the Committee's opinion that you may serve as President of the Booster Club subject to the provisos set forth in Canon 5(B)(2), as there does not appear to be a substantial likelihood that the organization or its members will appear in your Court.
The Committee also calls to your attention the provisions of Canon 4(E) concerning disqualification, with respect to possible appearances by solicited individuals or businesses.