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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2015-18 (Emergency Staff Opinion issued September 24, 2015)
Extrajudicial Activities; Event, attendance/appearance
Rules 1.2, 1.3, 3.1 and 3.7

Issue: May a Judicial Official serve as the Grand Marshal of a municipality’s ethnic day parade?
Additional Facts:  The parade is not a fundraiser, but sponsors contribute funds to offset costs.  The names of sponsors appear on banners.  The Judicial Official’s name would not be used in connection with soliciting sponsors.  In addition, the Judicial Official would retain the right to review materials used to solicit contributions to fund the parade.  The Judicial Official would ride in a car at the front of the parade with a banner denoting the Judicial Official as the Grand Marshal.
Applicable Rules of Judicial Conduct: Rule 1.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct states that a judge “should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the … impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.  The test for appearance of impropriety is whether the conduct would create in reasonable minds a perception that the judge violated this Code or engaged in other conduct that reflects adversely on the judge’s honesty, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge.” 
Rule 1.3 states that a judge “shall not use or attempt to use the prestige of judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others or allow others to do so.”
Rule 3.1 states that a judge may engage in extrajudicial activities, except as prohibited by law; however, a judge shall not participate in activities that will interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties, lead to frequent disqualification or appear to a reasonable person to undermine the judge’s independence, integrity or impartiality. 
Rule 3.7 concerns participation in educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization and activities. Subject to the requirements in Rule 3.1, a judge is permitted to participate in various activities sponsored by or on behalf of such entities.  Subject to the requirements in Rule 3.1, subsection (a)(4) specifically authorizes judges “appearing or speaking at, receiving an award or other recognition at, and permitting his or her title to be used in connection with an event of such an organization or entity, but if the event serves a fund-raising purpose, the judge may participate only if the event concerns the law, the legal system or the administration of justice”.
Response: This inquiry was circulated to the Committee members and their input was solicited and received. Based on the facts presented, including that the event is a community event and not a fund-raiser, that the Judicial Official’s name will not be used in connection with soliciting sponsors, and that the Judicial Official retains the right to review any material used to solicit contributions to fund the parade, the Committee agreed that the Judicial Official may serve as Grand Marshal in this community event.
In reaching its decision, the Committee considered JE 2009-18 Emergency Staff Opinion (judge may attend and speak at a non-political, non-fundraising, flag-raising ceremony to mark the beginning of an annual cultural celebration) and New York  Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinion No. 04-144 (a judge may serve as the Grand Marshal of a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and attend the annual fund-raising dinner held in conjunction with the parade, provided the judge’s name is not used in connection with any fund-raising activities or materials. Parade was considered to be a community event, not a fund-raising event, because there were no fund-raising activities engaged in as part of the parade); cf. New York Advisory Opinion No. 98-49 (judge should not serve as the grand marshal of a parade, or as a speaker at a rally held after the parade, where the organization sponsoring the event was engaged in fund-raising activities from its booth at the end of the parade route as well as other fund-raising activities prior to the parade).

Committee on Judicial Ethics



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