1996-16: Judge acting as an advocate for a Rabbi.

Opinion No. 96-16

September 16, 1996 

TOPIC: Judge acting as an advocate for a Rabbi. 

DIGEST: A judge may not act as an advocate for a Rabbi in

negotiations with his or her synagogue. 

REFERENCES: Illinois Supreme Court Rule 62B of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2 (145 Ill.2d R. 62); Illinois Supreme Court Rule 65F of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 5 (145 Ill.2d R. 65); Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee Opinion No. 94-2. 


A judge is asked by his or her Rabbi to accompany him or her to a board meeting of the synagogue and to act as the Rabbi's advocate on the Rabbi's behalf in the Rabbi's contract negotiations. The judge informed the Rabbi that he or she could not draft or critique any contract which arose out of the meeting. The judge believes that the board members would not be influenced by his or her office. The advocate role was not required or related to the rules of the synagogue. 


Whether a judge may serve as an advocate on behalf of a Rabbi in discussions with the synagogue about the Rabbi's retention. 


Under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 62B a judge shall not allow his or her name to be used to influence others. Under Rule 62B a judge's conduct is prohibited if it appears that the judge's position may be advancing the position of another. The judge's conduct must be viewed objectively and not subjectively. The judge's position during the advocate role, analyzed objectively, would influence the board members. Therefore, even though the Rabbi and judge believe that the judge's position would not actually influence the synagogue's committee, the role of "advocate" is still prohibited under Rule 62B. 

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 65F states that a judge may not practice law. The judge acting as an advocate is effectively acting in the role of the Rabbi's lawyer. The judge would be undertaking all of the responsibilities of a lawyer acting for the Rabbi, except for drafting or criticizing the written contract. Therefore, the judge may not act as the Rabbi's "advocate" under Rule 65F. 

See also IJEC Opinion No. 94-2 (A judge may not serve as a legal advisor to fraternal organization.)