1997-06: Judge serving on Board of Directors of a nonprofit corporation.

The Illinois Supreme Court has adopted a new Code of Judicial Conduct which will go into effect on January 1, 2023. The opinions listed here were published under the prior code, and are now subject to potential changes. The IJEC is currently in the process of reevaluating each of these opinions in light of the new Code of Judicial Conduct, and will be updating the opinions on a rolling basis.

Opinion No. 97-6
May 7, 1997

TOPIC: Judge serving on Board of Directors of a nonprofit corporation.

DIGEST: A judge may serve as a Director and/or officer of an educational nonprofit organization.

REFERENCES: Illinois Supreme Court Rule 65B; Illinois Judicial Ethics Opinion No. 96-21.

A judge is serving without compensation as a director and treasurer of an educational nonprofit corporation that is organized for the sole purpose of financially supporting various educational programs of a school district that may need additional financial assistance. The organization does not advise nor make any policy or fact recommendations to the school district on any issues. The nonprofit organization is merely one that channels money where a need exists.

May a judge serve on the Board of Directors and as Treasurer of a nonprofit educational corporation?

The service of a judge as a director or an officer of a nonprofit educational organization is allowable under the Canon of Judicial Ethics (Rule 65B).
However, there are certain limitations that restrict even this service. A judge should not serve in any capacity if the organization is conducted for "the economic or political advantage of its members" (Rule 65B) nor should service occur if "it is likely the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge or will be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court" (Rule 65B(1)). Additionally, the judge may not allow his or her name to be used in any solicitation of funds nor have his or her name on any letterhead or stationery that is used to solicit funds. (Rule 65B(2))
IJEC Opinion No. 96-21 is not applicable to the above fact situation as the nonprofit educational organization is not making any recommendations nor providing any advice to the school district or its governing body.