August 16, 1978
Re: Canon 5C
The Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges responds to your recent inquiry in which you state that the City of ____________ has a policy of charging public officials, who reside in the city, one-half of the yearly golf course membership fee required of residents, your inquiry being whether it is proper for you to accept that benefit or whether you should insist upon paying the full amount of the membership fee charged to residents.
The Committee has not heretofore addressed the exact point presented. By our opinion 74-9 we responded to an inquiry as to whether a waiver of a membership fee of an ascertainable amount should be reported as a gift. We there opined in the affirmative, without any reference to the propriety of accepting the gift.
The relevant Canon is Canon 5C(4)(c), which provides as follows:
"A judge may accept any other gift, bequest, favor, or loan only if the donor is a relative or is not a party or other person whose interests have recently come or may likely come before him, in the immediate future, and, if its value exceeds $100.00, the judge reports it in the same manner as he reports compensation in Canon 6."
Two of the participating members of the Committee are of the view that there is no prohibition, per se, against accepting a waiver or reduction in a membership fee, with the caveat that it should be reported as a gift as discussed in our opinion 74-6. Three other participating members are of the view that because it is apparent that the interests of the City of ____________ may likely come before you in the immediate future then the above quoted Canon proscribes acceptance of the reduced fee. The remaining three participating members interpret the Canon as clearly prohibiting acceptance of the reduced fee.
Accordingly, a majority of the participating members of the Committee respond to your inquiry in the negative.
With highest esteem and best regards, I am,
Tyrie A. Boyer, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Participating members: Judges Boyer, Carlisle, Haverfield, Hewitt, Letts, Stephenson, Turner and Samuel J. Powers, Attorney