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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2012-22 (July 20, 2012)
Event, attendance/appearance; Fundraiser; Name, Use of; Appearance of Impropriety;
Rules 1.2, 1.3, 3.1 & 3.7
Issue: May a Judicial Official, who has announced plans to retire and resign from the bench, authorize and agree to be the guest of honor at a dinner which will also be a fund-raising event to benefit an organization that concerns the law, the legal system or the administration of justice, if the event takes place after the Judicial Official departs judicial service and if the Judicial Official is not told before the event who will be attending?

Additional Facts: Friends and associates of a Judicial Official who will be retiring and resigning from the bench and returning to the private sector have proposed a “retirement” dinner in the Judicial Official’s honor. In lieu of gifts, a portion of the ticket price will be donated to a non-profit entity that provides legal services to the indigent. The event will take place shortly after the effective date of the Judicial Official’s resignation. Ticket sales, which will be handled by the Judicial Official’s future employer, will take place prior to the effective date of the Judicial Official’s resignation, however, after the Judicial Official stops hearing contested matters. The Judicial Official will instruct the organizers of the event not to inform him or her of the names of the individuals who purchase tickets.

Response: Rule 3.1(3) of the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits a judge from participating in activities that would appear to a reasonable person to undermine the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality, while Rule 3.7(a)(4) permits a judge to appear at, speak at, and receive an award or recognition at an event that serves a fund-raising purpose if the event concerns the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. Based upon the facts presented, including that the “retirement” event involves fundraising for a non-profit organization concerned with the law, the legal system or the administration of justice, that the Judicial Official will not know in advance of the event who has purchased tickets, and that the Judicial Official will not preside over any contested matters once the tickets are offered for sale, the Committee unanimously determined that the Judicial Official could agree to attend the “retirement” fundraising event as the  guest of honor.  In reaching its conclusion, the Committee considered JE 2010-30 and JE 2012-15. The Committee further determined that the proposed event would not create an appearance of impropriety in violation of Rule 1.2 and also would not constitute an attempt to use the prestige of office to advance the interests of others in violation of Rule 1.3. 

Committee on Judicial Ethics



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