I recently filed a petition in my county court. While I'm aware it's a routine proceeding for county judges, the judge's grant of my petition means a lot to me personally, and I would like to send a gift of flowers and a card as a token of my gratitude. Of course, I know there are restrictions regarding gifts to judges, designed to address impropriety and influence (or appearance thereof).
“Gift” means any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other similar item having monetary value but does not include:
- greeting cards and items with little intrinsic value, such as plaques, certificates, and trophies, which are intended solely for presentation
Furthermore, the Guide to Judiciary Policy also outlines (emphasis mine) that
A judicial officer or employee who has received a gift that cannot be accepted under these regulations should return any tangible item to the donor, except that a perishable item may be given to an appropriate charity, shared within the recipient's office, or destroyed.
My questions are thus:
Would a bouquet of flowers constitute an item with "little intrinsic value" and or that is "intended solely for presentation"?
If the answer to 1 is not a clear-cut and unconditional "yes", could I instead address the gift to the judge's office?
Such a bouquet would likely cost around $100, but mitigating factors (as I see them) include the facts that:
Flowers are pretty much intended for presentation; according to two examples from the Cornell Legal Information Institute, even though some items might have a "market value" that could trigger restrictions, since they are primarily intended for presentation, they are acceptable, and
The gift is being given after the judge's grant, rather than prior to it; I don't expect to be conducting any further business with my county court in the foreseeable future, and these restrictions are specifically applied to gifts from
[...] anyone who is seeking official action from or doing business with the court or other entity served by the judicial officer or employee, or from any other person whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the judicial officer’s or employee’s official duties.