NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONProfessional
Ethics Committee Opinion
Opinion #94 - 12/05/1968
Topic: Solicitation of attorneys for contributions to judicial
Digest: Solicitation should be by campaign committees and
contributions should not be unreasonable in amount
Canons: Former Canons 2, 3, Judicial Canons 28, 30, 32
1. Is it proper to
solicit an attorney for contributions to a political campaign of judges
and other elected officials before whom the solicited attorney may have
occasion to appear?
2. Is it proper for
an attorney to make contributions directly to the political campaign of
any judge or other elected official before whom he may have occasion to
This committee has no jurisdiction over solicitation of campaign
contributions by non-lawyers.
As for solicitation by members of the Bar for contributions to a
judge's campaign committee, the precedents appear to be in conflict.
Canon 28 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics says that a judge who is
nominated and is running for election may make contributions to the
campaign funds of the party which has nominated him, and Canon 30 of the
Canons of Judicial Ethics admonishes judges to refrain from all conduct
which might tend to arouse reasonable suspicion that they are using the
power or prestige of their judicial position to promote their candidacy
or the success of his party.
Canon 32 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics states that "A judge should
not accept any presents or favors from lawyers practicing before him or
from others whose interests are likely to be submitted to him for
judgment." However, ABA No. 226, which considers Canons of
Professional Ethics Nos. 2 and 3, and Canons of Judicial Ethics
Nos. 30 and 32 holds that an attorney may contribute to the
campaign expenses of a candidate for judicial office even though the
attorney making the contribution is likely to appear before such judge
if elected, provided the expenses are unavoidable and exceed that which
the candidate should reasonably be expected to bear personally.
New York County No. 304 holds that "A lawyer may not with propriety
make a contribution which has been solicited by a judicial candidate
(Canon 28 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics of the American Bar
Association); nor under circumstances which might justify the inference
that the contribution is a 'device or attempt to gain from a judge
personal consideration or favor (Canon 3 of the Canons of Professional
Ethics of the American Bar Association)".
It is the opinion of this committee that solicitation of
contributions from lawyers 'to judicial campaigns should be made by bona
fide campaign committees, and that lawyers may make contributions, not
unreasonable in amount, to such committees. The same principles should
govern contributions for candidates for other offices before whom a
lawyer may have occasion to appear.