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April 3, 1992

 

Honorable Marion A. Humphrey
Little Rock Municipal Court
600 West Markham Street
Little Rock, AR 72201

RE: Advisory Opinion # 92-02

 

Dear Judge Humphrey,

Your request for the opinion of this Committee has come to us in two parts: 1) your letter to Mr. Badami dated March 26, 1992, and 2) a phone call from Mr. Badami late in the afternoon of March 30, 1992 during which he read portions of the message you "faxed" to him earlier that day.

A copy of our letter to you dated March 28, 1992 is attached in order to reveal the totality of the facts of your request, and with which we deal. The "faxed" message adds thereto that the April 4th College dinner ticket sale receipts will be used for three purposes: 1) to pay all costs of the dinner including a fee (honorarium) to the speaker; 2) to fund workshops for future training sessions as follow-ups to the theme of the April 4th dinner; and 3) to pay other speakers that may talk at future events sponsored by the College.

You seek our opinion as to the applicability of Judicial Canon 5B(2) to your proposed appearance at this dinner event as its guest speaker and advise that the result of your research into this ethical question persuades you the canon will not be violated, but sufficient question remains in your mind to seek our comments.

Once before we have commented on the question of judges participating in fund-raising events, and while it concerned a little different phase of such activity, we now conclude that its content may be helpful to a better understanding of the purpose of this canon. It was written after considerable research into the question and a copy of it is attached.

Your factual recitation stated that the purpose, or theme, of this dinner meeting is to try and develop ways and means to persuade more young people to attend college, with stress on attendance at Philander Smith. The laudatory nature of this endeavor can in no way be denied.

The involved canon reads:

CANON 5: A JUDGE SHOULD REGULATE HIS EXTRA-JUDICIAL ACTIVITIES TO MINIMIZE THE RISK OF CONFLICT WITH HIS JUDICIAL DUTIES

B. CIVIC AND CHARITABLE ACTIVITIES

A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon his impartiality or interfere with the performance of his judicial duties. A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee, or non-legal advisor 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:

(2) A judge should not solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of his office for that purpose, but he may be listed as an officer, director, or trustee of such an organization. He should not be a speaker or the gust of honor at an organization's fund-raising events, but he may attend such events.

There are no exceptions, reservations, or modifications to the clearly stated proscribed judicial conduct: if a purpose, or result, of this dinner, even though of lesser importance, even incidental to its main thrust, is to create a fund to pay future costs and expenses of this laudatory college program, the canon clearly provides that the judge may not be its guest of honor or speaker. Your recited "dinner purposes" number 2 and 3, above, strongly suggest that a possible, even probable, purpose of this dinner is to create a fund, no matter how small, for educational purposes of the College, and if so prohibits a judge from speaking thereat.

Because of gaps in your factual recitation we are unable to answer your inquiry with greater certainty, and strongly urge you to inquire deeper into the "fund" part of this College function.

 

Yours truly,

 

Bruce T. Bullion, Chair






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