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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2009-14 (April 30, 2009)
Event, attendance/appearance; Awards & Honors; Fundraiser
Canons 2 & 5

Issues: May a Judicial Official accept, on behalf of the entire Judicial Branch, an award for excellence in mediation in recognition of the Judicial Branch’s Housing Mediation Program? The award is to be presented at a fund-raising reception by a nonprofit organization.

Response: This Committee has previously concluded that a Judicial Official may not accept an award as a guest of honor at a mediation fund-raising event (JE 2009-11). Taking into account our opinion in JE 2009-11, the Committee found no distinction arising from the facts that the recipient of the award is the Judicial Branch as an institution and that the Judicial Official would be accepting the award on its behalf as an individual. Notwithstanding those circumstances, the Judicial Official would still be appearing as the featured guest of honor at the fund-raising event. The Committee also noted that the organization's publicity indicated that it would also "recognize…[unnamed] representatives from the Judicial Branch." Based upon the facts presented, the Committee unanimously determined that, although it is permissible for the Judicial Branch to receive an award, it is impermissible under Canon 5(b) for the Judicial Official to accept an award even though the appearance would be in a representative capacity. The Committee cautioned that a Judicial Official should not participate in any fund-raising event in which the Judicial Official could be perceived as being a featured guest or as promoting the fund-raising activity, even if he/she is not a direct award recipient or guest speaker. The Committee noted that, although Judicial Officials may properly accept awards or honors, individually or in a representative capacity, they are not permitted to do so at fund-raising events.


Committee on Judicial Ethics



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