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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2008-14 (October 30, 2008)
Educational Activities; Gifts; Advertising; Canons 2, 3, 4, & 6

Issue: May a Judicial Official participate as a panel member at a law-related educational seminar where attendees may ask questions of the panel members? If yes, may the Judicial Official (1) accept an honorarium of $10-per-participant with a guaranteed minimum payment of $50 and (2) allow the sponsor of the seminar to use the Judicial Official’s photo and biographical information in advertising materials for the seminar?

Response: Based upon the facts presented, the Committee unanimously agreed that a Judicial Official may participate in a law-related educational program where questions may be asked by the audience provided that the Judicial Official (1) does not comment on a pending or impending matter, (2) does not cast doubt on his/her capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before him or her, (3) does not offer advice as to how lawyers should handle specific matters, and (4) exercises caution as to questions that may seek to elicit such specific advice. With respect to compensation for participating in the seminar, the Committee unanimously agreed that a Judicial Official should either decline any honorarium or accept only the minimum honorarium of $50. A Judicial Official should not accept an honorarium based upon the number of persons attending the program or tickets for staff to attend the program. Whether or not an honorarium is accepted, a Judicial Official may accept reimbursement of expenses for travel to the program. Finally, with respect to advertising the Judicial Official’s participation in the educational program, the Committee unanimously agreed that the Judicial Official should retain the right to review and pre-approve the use of any biographical information or photograph to ensure that the information is presented in a tasteful and dignified manner. It was noted that control over the use of such information by the Judicial Official is needed to ensure that Canon 2 (b)’s prohibition against lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others is not violated.


Committee on Judicial Ethics

 


 

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