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NUMBER 304 1933
Question. 1. May a lawyer, with propriety, contribute to the campaign expenses of judicial candidates? it is to be borne in mind that the lawyer may subsequently appear before such candidate if he be elected.
2. Is the answer the same if the candidate is now upon the Bench and has been nominated for re-election?
3. Does it make any difference if the lawyer has eases pending undetermined before the Court of which the judge is a member?
4. Does it make any difference if the lawyer has cases pending undetermined before the particular judge who is a candidate for re-election?
5. Are any of the answers to the above questions dependent upon the amount of the contribution?
Answer. While there is not necessarily professional impropriety in a lawyer’s exercising the right of any citizen to contribute to funds for the payment of legitimate campaign expenses, nevertheless in the opinion of the Committee a lawyer should not do anything which might justify the inference that justice is not administered with honesty and impartiality; consequently he should refrain from such contributions as invite such inference.
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 special personal consideration or favor” (Canon 3 of the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association).
It is the belief of the Committee that the correct application of these principles to any particular case will ordinarily be obvious to the lawyer considering contribution. The Committee cannot undertake to apply them in any case without knowing all the circumstances.