Fund-raising for alumnae association

June 29, 1994

Opinion 94-8

Dear:

This is in response to your letter in which you seek advice from the Advisory Committee as to whether your involvement in fund-raising for an alumnae association will violate The Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of Court. In your letter you state that, together with several alumnae of a school you attended in the past, you are involved in efforts to reestablish an alumnae association. The aim of the organization will be to provide support for the graduates in the form of lectures, a newsletter, networking and, eventually, scholarships. You write that you would like to be able to assist in fund-raising for the group and seek the Committee's guidance as to whether your participation in fund-raising while you hold the position of is permissible under the code.

Canon 5(B) states that a Clerk-Magistrate may participate in civic and charitable activities that include the solicitation of funds, provided that there is not a substantial likelihood that members of the organization will come before the Court in which the Clerk-Magistrate serves. In addition, there is a prohibition against using the Clerk-Magistrate's office or the prestige of the office for the solicitation of funds. Nor can there be any solicitation of the staff.

The relevant portions of the Canon are as follows:

"A Clerk-Magistrate 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 . . .

(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 or 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."
         

From the information you submitted, it is the Committee's opinion that there would be no conflict under the Code for you to participate in fund-raising for the alumnae association as long as there is not a substantial likelihood that the organization or its members will appear before you in Court and you neither use the prestige of your office nor solicit your staff. In the event that members of the organization do appear before the Court in which you serve, you should consult and comply with the provisions of Canon 4(E) regarding disqualification.