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April 8, 1993

 

The Honorable Jack Holt, Jr.
Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Arkansas
625 Marshall Street
Little Rock, AR 72201 

RE: JEAC No. 93-03 - SCAN Fund-raiser

Dear Justice Holt,

This is in response to your letter of March 29, 1993 wherein you expressed concern as to whether your participation and the participation of other judges in an anniversary celebration and fund raiser for SCAN might present a potential violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Accompanying your letter was a letter dated March 26, 1993 from Herbert C. Rule III of the Rose Law Firm outlining the proposed events. In Mr. Rule's letter he proposes that you be the Manager of a softball team consisting of judges that would play against teams of the executive and legislative branches of state government. This would be highly publicized and radio and television personalities would actually act as Co-managers of the teams. The letter further states:

"Spectators will have the opportunity to support their favorite teams or players by agreeing to contribute money to SCAN for each run scored."

Canon 5 B. (2) of the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct provides as follows:

"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 officefor that purpose, but he may be listed as an officer, director, or trustee of such an organization. He shouldnot be a speaker or the guest of honor at an organization'sfund-raising events, but he may attend such events."  (Emphasis supplied)

The subject of fund raising by judges has produced voluminous opinions by judicial advisory bodies. The book, Judicial Conduct and Ethics (Shaman, Lubet and Alfini, Michie 1990) states that this is indicative of two trends, first that judges are widely involved in such activities and second, that judges often seek guidance on this issue. The book goes on to state in Section 9.06 at page 263 as follows:

"The advisory opinions evince a strong consensus in favor of a strict interpretation of the antisolicitation rule."

Our research bears this out. Many examples can be cited and among these are: Judge may not participate in exhibition basketball for scholarships even if the person is not identified as a judge (FL 88-5); Judge may not be a "celebrity auctioneer" in a telethon (TX 16); Judge may not participate in a fashion show (FL 88-31); Judge may not participate in a mock arrest-bail solicitation (KS JE-20); Judge may participate in a cake bake contest only if it is not designed to raise funds (NY 88-111); Judge may not take an acting part in a play that is a fund raising event (NY 92-79); Judge must stop working at a bingo game for the volunteer fire department (NY 87-20); Judge cannot participate in running events for charity in which sponsors would donate set amounts of money (WV March 5, 1990); and most importantly, Judge may not appear as an operatic singer at a fund raiser (TX 41).

The weight of the cases give wise and convincing counsel that the publicized participation of the Chief Justice and other judges in this event would be in violation of the Code. Judges would not be prohibited from attending or contributing.

We commend you for being open and available to the public for good causes and also for your profound concern for adherence to the spirit and the letter of the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct.

Sincerely,

 

 

James A. Badami

For the Committee

 

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