State Bar of Michigan
home member area contact us


ethics



 print this page


for members
SBM general information

member directory

admissions, ethics, and
   regulation


diversity & inclusion

justice initiatives

member services

practice management
   resource center


public policy resource
   center


publications and
   advertising


research and links

sections & committees


ethics for members
ethics developments
ethics opinions
TAON (trust accounts)


from the courts
opinion searching
virtual court


for the public
public resources
media resources


giving opportunities
a lawyer helps
access to justice
   campaign

Ethics Opinion

print this page

CI-509

April 11, 1980

SYLLABUS

    A judicial candidate may not personally solicit or accept campaign funds.

    A judicial candidate's campaign committee is prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions from lawyers, in excess of $100 per lawyer.

    A judicial candidate's campaign committee may accept unsolicited campaign contributions from lawyers, in excess of $100, within 180 days before a primary election or nominating convention.

    References: MCJC 7B(2)(a), (b) and (c).

TEXT

A judge inquires whether a campaign committee is required to return any excess over $100 voluntarily contributed by an individual lawyer.

MCJC 7B(2) states, in part:

    "B. Campaign Conduct:

      "(2) A candidate, including an incumbent judge, for a judicial office:

        "(a) Should not himself solicit or accept campaign funds, or solicit publicly stated support by improper use of his office in violation of B(1)(c).

        "(b) He may establish committees of responsible persons to secure and manage the expenditure of funds for his campaign and to obtain pubic statements of support for his candidacy.

        "(c) Such committees are prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions from lawyers in excess of $100 per lawyer, but may solicit public support from lawyers. A candidate's committee may solicit funds for his campaign no earlier than 180 days before a primary election or nominating convention and may not solicit or accept funds after the date of the general election. A candidate should not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of himself or members of his family. Emphasis added.

        ". . ."

MCJC 7B(2)(a) clearly prohibits a judicial candidate from soliciting or accepting campaign funds. MCJC 7B(2)(c) prohibits committees from soliciting campaign contributions in excess of $100 per lawyer prior to the date of the general election. After the date of the general election, the committee may not solicit or accept campaign funds. A literal reading of 7B(2)(a) and (c) permits a judicial candidate's committee to accept unsolicited campaign contributions in excess of $100 from an individual lawyer.

Had the drafters of the Canon intended to prevent acceptance of voluntary contributions, in excess of $100 per lawyer prior to the general election, the wording of MCJC 7B(2)(c) would have expressly prohibited "acceptance." The only reference to acceptance is after the general election or by the judicial candidate in MCJC 7B(2)(a).

This opinion is contrary to informal opinion CI-352, June 6, 1978, in which this Committee ruled that a campaign committee for a judicial candidate could not accept contributions from lawyers in excess of $100. After the date of that decision, the Committee was advised that when the Supreme Court adopted the code of Judicial Conduct, and, specifically MCJC 7B(2)(c), the State Bar of Michigan asked the Supreme Court to prohibit both the solicitation and acceptance of contributions in excess of $100. The Supreme court declined to adopt the State Bar of Michigan's proposal. Both the Ethics Committee and the Board of Commissioners of the State Bar of Michigan are of the opinion that acceptance of campaign contributions, in excess of $100 should be likewise prohibited for the reasons stated in CI-352, however, until Canon 7 is amended, a campaign committee is free to accept unsolicited contributions in excess of $100.

 
     

 

follow us
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on LinkedIn Follow Us on Twitter Follow the SBM Blog

 

©Copyright 2014

website links
Contact Us
Site Map
Website Privacy Statement PDF
Staff Links

SBM on the Mapcontact information
State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St
Lansing, MI 48933-2012
Phone: (517) 346-6300
Toll Free: (800) 968-1442
Fax: (517) 482-6248