Dear Model Code,
I’m a member of the board of directors of a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation that supports the local ballet company. Can I encourage people to buy tickets to this month’s production of The Nutcracker? To what extent am I allowed to aid in the ballet’s promotion?
Hon. Sugar Plum Sponsor
Dear Judge Sugar Plum,
It may be the season of giving, but for judges that means treading cautiously.
Rule 3.1 of the Model Code allows for judges to participate in charitable organizations, including serving as a board member. However, your right to seek contributions—or sell ballet tickets—is limited.
Under Section A, point 2, of Rule 3.7, judges are allowed to solicit contributions for a charitable entity but only from members of the judge’s family or from judges the judge does not supervise or hold appellate authority over.
By the way, some states may also interpret Rule 1.3, which says a judge shall not advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others, to the point of usurping Rule 3.1. So when it comes to supporting charitable entities, you may want to check with your state’s bar association or a superior judge.
The Model Code of Judicial Conduct