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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2012-11 (May 15, 2012)
Event, attendance/appearance; Speaking; Compensation; Extrajudicial Activities
Rules 3.12 & 3.15
 
Issue: A Judicial Official was asked by the Judicial Branch’s External Affairs Speakers Bureau to speak to a group of executive branch agency employees and their children as part of a “Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day” program. The Judicial Official spoke during the Judicial Official’s lunch period to the group on the topic of school bullying. At the conclusion of the program, the Judicial Official was handed a card. Inside the card was a $50 gift certificate to an area restaurant. May the Judicial Official keep the gift certificate?

Additional Facts: The Judicial Official reported that it is the practice of the employees at the executive branch agency to provide a comparable gift to other speakers. The executive branch agency has been a party to approximately two dozen lawsuits in the past ten years, some of which are still pending. The inquiring Judicial Official does not preside and has not presided over any of the cases involving the executive branch agency.

Response: Rule 3.12 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that a judge “may accept reasonable compensation for extrajudicial activities permitted by law unless such acceptance would appear to a reasonable person to undermine the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality.” The comment to Rule 3.12 provides that judges are permitted to accept “honoraria, stipends, fees, wages, salaries, royalties, or other compensation for speaking, teaching, writing, and other extrajudicial activities, provided the compensation is reasonable and commensurate with the task performed.” Compensation derived from extrajudicial activities shall be publicly reported pursuant to Rule 3.15 (a)(1).

Based upon the information provided, including that the executive branch agency at issue does not presently have a case pending before the Judicial Official, that the program was not a fund-raising event, that the gift card was of modest value, and that similar gifts are customarily provided to other speakers who are not judges, the Committee concluded that the Judicial Official may keep the gift certificate pursuant to Rule 3.12 as an honorarium for speaking at the event, provided that the Judicial Official publicly reports the receipt of and value of the certificate pursuant to Rule 3.15.

Committee on Judicial Ethics

 


 

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