Oral Arguments are happening now. View them on the web or via Mobile App on iPhone / iPad or Android (4.0+).

You are here

§ 5-303.7. Participation in educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organizations and activities.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

   (A) Subject to the requirements of Rule 3.1, a judge may participate in activities sponsored by organizations or governmental entities concerned with the law,* the legal system, or the administration of justice, and those sponsored by or on behalf of educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organizations not conducted for profit, including but not limited to the following activities:

   (1) assisting such an organization or entity in planning related to fund-raising, and participating in the management and investment of the organization’s or entity’s funds;

   (2) soliciting contributions* for such an organization or entity, but only from members of the judge’s family,* or from judges over whom the judge does not exercise supervisory or appellate authority;

   (3) soliciting membership for such an organization or entity, even though the membership dues or fees generated may be used to support the objectives of the organization or entity, but only if the organization or entity is concerned with the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice;

   (4) appearing or speaking at, receiving an award or other recognition at, being featured on the program of, 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 fund-raising is incidental or the event concerns the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice; provided participation does not reflect adversely on the judge’s independence,* integrity,* or impartiality.*

   (5) making recommendations to such a public or private fund-granting organization or entity in connection with its programs and activities, but only if the organization or entity is concerned with the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice; and

   (6) serving as an officer, director, trustee, or nonlegal advisor of such an organization or entity, unless it is likely that the organization or entity:

   (a) will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge; or

   (b) will frequently be engaged in adversary proceedings in the court of which the judge is a member, or in any court subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the court of which the judge is a member.

   (B) A judge may encourage lawyers to provide pro bono legal services.

   (C) Subject to the preceding requirements, a judge may:

   (1) Provide leadership in identifying and addressing issues involving equal access to the justice system; develop public education programs; engage in activities to promote the fair administration of justice; and convene or participate or assist in advisory committees and community collaborations devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, the provision of services, or the administration of justice.

   (2) Endorse projects and programs directly related to the law, the legal system, the administration of justice, and the provision of services to those coming before the courts, and may actively support the need for funding of such projects and programs.

   (3) Participate in programs concerning the law or which promote the administration of justice.

COMMENT

 

   [1] The activities permitted by paragraph (A) generally include those sponsored by or undertaken on behalf of public or private not-for-profit educational institutions, and other not-for-profit organizations, including law-related, charitable, and other organizations. An organization concerned with the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice may include an accredited institution of legal education, whether for profit or not for profit. A charitable organization may include a private family foundation which exists for charitable purposes.

 

   [2] Even for law-related organizations, a judge should consider whether the membership and purposes of the organization, or the nature of the judge’s participation in or association with the organization, would conflict with the judge’s obligation to refrain from activities that reflect adversely upon a judge’s independence, integrity, and impartiality.

 

   [3] Mere attendance at an event, whether or not the event serves a fund-raising purpose, does not constitute a violation of paragraph (A)(4). It is also generally permissible for a judge to serve as an usher or a food server or preparer, or to perform similar functions, at fund-raising events sponsored by educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organizations. Such activities are not solicitation and do not present an element of coercion or abuse the prestige of judicial office.

 

   [4] Identification of a judge’s position in educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organizations on letterhead used for fund-raising or membership solicitation does not violate this Rule. The letterhead may list the judge’s title or judicial office if comparable designations are used for other persons.

 

   [5] In addition to appointing lawyers to serve as counsel for indigent parties in individual cases, a judge may promote broader access to justice by encouraging lawyers to participate in pro bono legal services, if in doing so the judge does not employ coercion, or abuse the prestige of judicial office. Such encouragement may take many forms, including providing lists of available programs, training lawyers to do pro bono legal work, and participating in events recognizing lawyers who have done pro bono work.

 

   [6] A judge may be an announced speaker at a fund-raising event benefiting indigent representation, scholarships for law students, or accredited institutions of legal education.

 

   [7] A judge may speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in other extrajudicial activities concerning the law, the legal system, the administration of justice and nonlegal subjects, subject to the requirements of this Code.

 

Supreme Court Rules

This page was last modified on Monday, October 22, 2012