1996-10: Judges' participation in a bar association fund raiser for Special Olympics.

Opinion No. 96-10

July 16, 1996 

TOPIC: Judges' participation in a bar association fund raiser for Special Olympics. 

DIGEST: A judge may not participate in a fund raiser for a charitable organization sponsored by a bar association where the judge's participation is the impetus for donations to the charity. 

REFERENCES: Illinois Supreme Court Rule 65B of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 5 (145 Ill.2d R. 65). 


A local bar association is planning a fund raiser for Special Olympics. As a part of the festivities, the association plans a 24-hour bicycle ride. It also proposes a "Run for the Robes", featuring judges running a 100-yard dash dressed in their robes. They also plan a dunk-tank featuring judges as the targets. Admission will be charged to the races, and customers would pay for a number of chances to hit a target, causing a judge to be dunked in the tank of water. The association has asked judges to participate. 


May a judge participate in the fund raiser as a runner or as a target in the dunk tank? 


The judge is not allowed to participate in the charitable fund raising activities. Rule 65B(2) states: "A judge should not solicit or permit his or her name to be used in any manner to solicit funds or other assistance for any such (civic or charitable) organization... A judge should not be a speaker or the guest of honor at any organization's fund-raising events, but he or she may attend such events." In the situation presented, the inducement for customers to contribute to the charity would be the presence of one or more judges. Especially in the situation involving the dunk-tank, the enticement to contribute to the charity would be the chance to dunk the judge. But for the judge's presence, no contribution would be made to the charity. 

Even if individual names of judges were not made public, the fact of judicial participation would undoubtedly be a part of the advertising and solicitation. The judges should not participate collectively in an activity which would be prohibited to them individually.