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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2010-17 (June 10, 2010)
Event, attendance/appearance; Speaking; Canons 2, 4 & 5

Issue: May a Judicial Official be a speaker at a private reception celebrating the anniversary of a for-profit, law-related business?

Response: The Committee considered the following information that was provided : (1) the Judicial Official has been asked to speak on a topic of the Judicial Official’s choice at a private reception presented by and honoring the anniversary of a publisher of law-related materials; (2) attendance at the reception will be by invitation only and free of charge to those invited; (3) it is anticipated that the guests will consist of “select” judges and attorneys; (4) the business intends to solicit a few donors to sponsor the event, one of which is likely to be a law firm; (5) there will be a program book in which people can purchase ads of a congratulatory nature; (6) the business plans to break even or make a slight profit from the sponsors and program book; (7) in addition to the host company briefly discussing the business and having the Judicial Official speak for a few minutes, the business plans to issue an award to someone in the legal community and have the award recipient make some remarks; and (8) while the Judicial Official’s name and position would not appear on the invitation, that information would be included in the program book. Based upon the foregoing, the Committee unanimously determined that the Judicial Official should decline the invitation to speak at the for-profit company’s private anniversary celebration since to do so would lend the prestige of office to advance the private interests of the business in violation of Canon 2 (b). The Committee concluded however, that the Judicial Official may attend the reception as a guest of the business provided that, if the value of the gift exceeds one hundred dollars, in accordance with Canon 5 (c) (4) (C), it must be reported in the same manner as compensation. In light of the foregoing conclusion, the Committee did not determine whether the Judicial Official’s appearance as a speaker would implicate the prohibition of Canon 5 (b) (2) relating to a judge’s appearance as a speaker at a fund raising event. 

Committee on Judicial Ethics



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