The Arkansas Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee issued an
advisory opinion stating that a judge may not solicit funds in person, by telephone, or by
letter from individuals or corporations to support a reception to be held following a
continuing legal education seminar sponsored by the Arkansas Association of Women Lawyers
nor may the judge solicit funds on personal stationery from her residence, but the judge
may suggest to the organization the names of potential donors and participate in the
planning of fund-raising, and non-judicial members or employees of the organization may
contact donors if they are careful not to suggest that they are acting on behalf of or
with the knowledge of the judge. The Committee noted that Canon 4C implies that a judge
may personally participate in "private" fund-raising, but stated that private
fund-raising should be interpreted as limited to narrow situations involving, for example,
fund-raising among relatives and other judges.
November 19, 1991
Judge Judith Rogers
Court of Appeals
Little Rock, AR 72201
RE: Advisory Opinion # 91-05(1)
Dear Judge Rogers,
Your letter of October 17, 1991 inquires as to the propriety of your
involvement with fund-raising activities to support a reception to be held following a
continuing legal education seminar sponsored by the Arkansas Association of Women Lawyers.
Canon 1 of the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct, first adopted by
the Supreme Court in 1973 and re-adopted in 1988, requires that a judge participate in
establishing, maintaining, enforcing, and observing high standards of conduct in order to
preserve the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Accordingly, the task of this
Committee is to interpret, construe, and apply the Code in a manner that accomplishes that
The Arkansas Association of Women Lawyers appears to be a Canon 48
organization, that is, one Adevoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, or
the administration of justice. A judge may assist such an organization in raising funds
and may participate in the management and investment of the funds, but should not
personally participate in public fund raising activities. That distinction is intended to
insulate the judge from the donors and the donors from the judge, and thereby reduce the
possible appearance of impropriety or lack of impartiality that is implicit in
fund-raising by judges. Thode, Reporter's Notes to Code of Judicial Conduct (1973)
77. Accordingly, a judge may not personally contact individuals or corporate entities and
solicit funds for the organization, regardless of whether the funds are to be used for
educational activities, social functions, investments, or any other purpose. Even though
the fund raising may be directed toward a single individual, it is still fund raising
among members of the public. The dangers of perceived influence buying are just as great,
and perhaps greater, when a donor gives money in response to a personal, Aprivate@ request
from a judge. Judicial fund-raising may unintentionally create in the donor the impression
that the donor is a special position to influence the judge. Canon 2(B). Such an
impression does not create public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the
judiciary. Canon 2(A).
Nor may a judge solicit funds by telephone or written
correspondence. Nor may a judge solicit funds on personal stationary or from her
residence. This rule is not avoided simply by the judge failing to identify herself or her
Canon 48 implies that a judge may personally participate in
Aprivate@ fund-raising activities. But that interpretation should be limited to narrow
situations involving, for example, fund-raising among relatives and other judges.
On the other hand, Canon 48 does permit the judge to assist in
raising funds. For example, the judge may suggest to the organization the names of
potential donors. The judge may participate in the planning of fund-raising activities.
See Shaman, Lubet, and Alfini, Judicial Conduct and Ethics, (1990) Section 9.09.
Non-judicial members or employees of the Canon 48 organization may contact donors.
However, those non-judicial individuals should be careful not to suggest or imply that
they are acting on behalf of, or with the knowledge of, the judge. The organization is not
precluded from listing the judge as an officer, director, or trustee of the organization.
Relevant authority from other jurisdictions includes: Georgia
Opinion 15 (1977) (judges may not solicit funds for the Judicial College of Georgia);
Kansas Opinion JE-1 (1984) (judges may not raise funds in any way for the National Judges
Education and Research Foundation, Inc.); Texas Opinion # 58 (1982) (judges may solicit
funds for the Texas Center for the Judiciary); Texas Opinion # 131 (1989) (judges may not
participate in any fund-raising activities for a committee to restore the courthouse
Bruce T. Bullion