The Judicial Qualifications Commission has been asked for an Advisory Opinion as to whether a judge may act as an educational leader for a legal study tour of the Soviet Union and may, in that connection, use his personal stationery for the purpose of an invitation letter, in view of the fact that it might be construed as a solicitation of registrants for the tour. The letter would be addressed to lawyers and judges interested in the educational aspects of the tour and the actual fees, registration forms and the itinerary would appear in separate literature, although the letter would refer to costs and arrangements. The judge would not be paid for his role, but all fees for himself and his spouse would be paid from the point of departure, plus a small honorarium to cover incidentals.
Rule 1.3 provides as follows:
Judges shall not lend the prestige of their office to advance the private interests of the judge or others.
Rule 3.7(B)(2) also provides as follows:
Judges shall not personally solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of their office for that purpose, but they may be listed as officers, directors, or trustees of such organizations.
In view of the provisions of these canons, it would be, in the opinion of the Commission, inappropriate for the judge to solicit registrants for the tour by letter, regardless of the stationery on which the solicitation is made. At the same time, it would not be improper for the judge to serve as a lecturer or a speaker or an officer of the organization promoting or conducting the tour, so long as the judge did not participate in, or permit the use of his name in, the solicitation of registrants for the tour.
[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rule 1.3, 3.7(B)(2). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #15, #17, #24, #43, #117, #133 #138, #139, #145, #146, #161, #164.]