Recently Broadcast Opinions

The Committee's published opinions are searchable online and on Westlaw. In addition, many opinions are sent to the Buffalo Law Journal, the Magistrate, the New York Daily Record, and/or the New York Law Journal.

The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics recently issued the following opinions, which are linked below.

  • Opinions are not in strict numerical order; they are grouped by date of distribution.
  • Use your web browser's search function (e.g., Ctrl+F) to search for a word or opinion number on this page.
  • To see recently broadcast opinions grouped by subject matter, please visit the Subject Matter Index page. (Coverage starts with Opinion 15-01.)
  • For a searchable list of earlier broadcast opinions, please visit the Broadcast Opinions Archive.

You may also search all published opinions and/or request an opinion.


December 16, 2021 Broadcast

Opinion 21-90 May a town justice, either individually or together with a county magistrates' association, lobby the state legislature for a law which would permit centralized arraignments to be handled via electronic means on a local level?

Opinion 21-92 What is a judge's obligation in matters involving the law firm colleagues of an attorney with whom the judge maintains a "close social relationship" or "close personal relationship" that requires disclosure or disqualification under Opinion 11-125?

Opinion 21-94 May a part-time attorney judge serve as a part-time prosecutor in a neighboring county?

Opinion 21-98 On these facts, a full-time judge need not report the described financial transactions under Section 100.4(H)(2). The judge should consult the Unified Court System's Ethics Commission concerning whether and how to report them under Part 40.

Opinion 21-99 A judge may not monitor police communications on police scanners or police scanner apps for the purpose of learning who has been arrested in the judge's jurisdiction and will likely come before the judge's court, as such activity deliberately and purposefully exposes the judge to ex parte information about pending or impending cases in the judge's court, exclusively from a law enforcement perspective.

Opinion 21-100 The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not preclude two part-time lawyer judges who preside in the same court from representing two potentially adverse parties in a proceeding before a full-time judge in another court.

Opinion 21-101 (1) A town justice whose spouse is the mayor of a village within the town (a) is disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, in matters where the judge's spouse is expected to testify or is a named party, and (b) is disqualified, subject to remittal, in matters where the village is a named party, but (c) need not otherwise recuse from cases where the judge's spouse has no personal involvement, merely because village employees will appear. (2) Where the judge's spouse, as village mayor, serves ex officio on a body of commissioners for the village police department, but is not the head of the department and has no day-to-day administrative, supervisory or law enforcement responsibilities, the judge need not recuse from cases involving the village police department due solely to the judge's spouse's formal status as a police commissioner.

Opinion 21-102 Must a part-time judge resign from both part-time judicial positions they currently hold, on announcing their candidacy for an elective non-judicial position?

Opinion 21-103 May a full-time judge serve on the board of councilors for a not-for-profit private law school in another state?

Opinion 21-104 Where it is legally appropriate to do so, a judge may broadly solicit participation by potential amici curiae by issuing a notice to the bar that will be (a) electronically filed, (b) sent to the New York Law Journal for publication and (c) sent to bar associations and/or committees. Any such notice must be consistent with generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct, including the judge's obligation to maintain public confidence in the judge's impartiality, integrity, and independence.

Opinion 21-105 May a judge accept and decide a "universal motion" from the District Attorney to dismiss certain specified marijuana charges, pursuant to a change in the Penal Law, "in lieu of requiring the submission of a written disposition for every arrest"?

Opinion 21-106 Although it is more efficient for a court clerk to request a "long form information" from an arresting agency to support the issuance of an arrest warrant, this is a prosecutorial task and using the court's staff and database for this purpose is ethically impermissible.

Opinion 21-107 Provided the judge can be fair and impartial, a judge need not disqualify from all cases involving a former opposing counsel, even though the judge had, as an attorney, criticized the opposing counsel's conduct in a letter to the tribunal.

Opinion 21-108 Whether or not a judge may unilaterally substitute the owner/registrant for the operator of an alleged overweight vehicle is a legal question, which is beyond this Committee's jurisdiction. Similarly, whether or not any or all of the interested parties need to request or consent to the substitution is also a legal question beyond the jurisdiction of this Committee.

Opinion 21-109 May a full-time judge serve on the board of directors of a local not-for-profit organization which provides educational programs to children and adults with autism?

Opinion 21-110 Where proceedings involving the town, its highway department, or the highway department's employees are very rare in the town court, a town justice may represent the town in collective bargaining negotiations with the union representing the town's highway department personnel. However, the judge must disqualify in all matters where the town is a party both for the duration of the representation and for two years after it completely ends.

Opinion 21-111 A judge who was previously involved in the implementation of a new county-wide vehicle and traffic law camera enforcement program on behalf of the designated "charging agency" for these alleged violations, but left that employment and assumed judicial office before the agency commenced prosecuting these matters, need not disqualify when accusatory instruments from this program come before the judge.

Opinion 21-112 A part-time town justice may serve as "Judge Advocate" for the American Legion.

Opinion 21-114(A) A judge may disclose the judge’s own preferred gender pronouns in the judge’s email signature block and during a virtual proceeding in which the judge presides.

Opinion 21-114(B) A full-time judge may attend a law firm’s online “launch party” hosted by an attorney and law firm who do not appear before the judge.


back to top

August 6, 2021 Broadcast

Opinion 21-77 May a village justice also serve as Assigned Counsel Administrator in the same county?

Opinion 21-78 (1) Where an attorney persists in sending emails to the court and opposing counsel concerning a case, despite a court order disqualifying the attorney from the representation due to an ethical conflict under the Rules of Professional Conduct, the judge must take appropriate action. (2)(a) If, on considering all relevant circumstances, the judge determines that the misconduct seriously calls into question the attorney’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer, the appropriate action is to report the attorney to the disciplinary committee. (b) Conversely, if the judge determines the misconduct does not reach that level of egregiousness, the judge has discretion to take less severe appropriate measures which may include, but are not limited to, counseling or warning the lawyer, reporting the lawyer to their employer, or sanctioning the lawyer.

Opinion 21-79 May a judge serve on the board of a not-for-profit educational organization with a primary focus on educating first responders, parents and teachers on how to interact with individuals on the Autism Spectrum and/or their care givers in crisis situations?

Opinion 21-80 A part-time judge who is the secretary/treasurer of a not-for-profit volunteer fire company may also serve as the organization’s point of contact to provide factual and financial information for its Federal Emergency Management Agency grant application.

Opinion 21-81 A judge who belongs to a judicial association (1) may participate in a vote on a resolution not to hold the association’s conferences in certain locations, based on local laws affecting individuals with particular sexual orientations, gender identity, or gender expression; (2) need not resign from the association merely because the resolution passes; and (3) may serve on a prison committee for the association’s local chapter, which provides support and assistance to women in prison as they prepare for their transition back into the community.

Opinion 21-82 (1) A judge who is being represented in an Article 78 proceeding in the judge’s official capacity by private counsel under Public Officers Law § 17(2)(b) is disqualified, subject to remittal, in any matters involving the specific attorneys who are representing the judge for the duration of the representation. The judge is not disqualified when other partners or associates of the law firm appear, provided they have no involvement in representing the judge, but must make disclosure while the representation is ongoing. (2) Once the Article 78 proceeding terminates and the representation ends, the judge need not disclose or disqualify in matters involving the law firm and/or the specific attorneys involved in the representation, assuming the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 21-83 On these facts, a town justice in a town encompassing a village with its own court may not allow the town court clerk to simultaneously serve as clerk to the village police, where (a) the two courts share the same justices and courtroom and (b) the clerical staffs share the same telephone and service window, interact throughout the work day, and cover for each other.

Opinion 21-84 A part-time lawyer judge may serve as a non-partisan hearing officer for the state board of elections to conduct civil enforcement hearings.

Opinion 21-85 Among other requirements, remittal of a judge's disqualification requires on-the-record, individual and specific consent by all parties that have appeared and not defaulted. Where the purpose of the proceeding is to determine if a party has the capacity to make decisions on their own behalf, a judge who has a remittable conflict must disqualify without offering an opportunity for remittal unless the judge determines that the attorney has the legal standing to consent to remittal on behalf of the alleged incapacitated party.

Opinion 21-86 (1) A judge who reported a government attorney to the grievance committee must disqualify in all cases involving that attorney while the disciplinary matter is pending and for two years thereafter. (2) What the judge must state on the record or in writing pursuant to Judiciary Law § 9, when confidentiality has not been waived, is a legal question we cannot resolve. (3) If the judge believes the attorney's appearance on a case that had previously been handled by another colleague in the same governmental law office constitutes impermissible judge-shopping, the judge may report this conduct to the grievance committee.

Opinion 21-87 May a full-time judge prepare an uncontested divorce package for a former client for whom the judge had previously prepared a separation agreement while in private practice?

Opinion 21-88 May a part-time attorney judge (1) raise funds for a not-for-profit charitable or civic organization by selling raffle tickets to their family and (2) represent the organization pro bono?

Opinion 21-89 A judge may complete a survey from the local social services agency concerning the number of eviction petitions, proceedings and warrants filed or pending in the judge's court, so that the agency can assess the likely impacts of lifting a moratorium on evictions, but such participation is voluntary and entirely in the judge's discretion.

Opinion 21-91 May a judge contact their legislators in order to ascertain what steps are necessary to initiate legislation in order to create an additional judgeship in the judge’s court to handle the increased caseload and enlist their support in obtaining such legislation?

Opinion 21-93 May a town justice allow the town’s Chief Constable to provide court security in the town court and to prosecute town ordinance violations “while also acting as a Court Officer”?

Opinion 21-95 May a judge attend, as a guest of the judge’s prosecutor spouse, the purely social aspects of a multi-day annual prosecutors’ conference, located in another part of the state?

Opinion 21-96 May a full-time judge provide, at the request of a lawyer representing the estate of a former client the judge knew professionally for many years, a “family tree affidavit” to be submitted in Surrogate's Court?

Opinion 21-97 We decline to comment on the appropriate scope of disclosure of a recusing judge under Judiciary Law § 9, as this is a legal question beyond our jurisdiction.

back to top

June 22, 2021 Broadcast

Opinion 21-55 May a part-time judge serve on a committee to investigate sexual harassment claims against an individual who is a member of the same worldwide not-for-profit service organization?

Opinion 21-56 (1) This Committee, unlike an individual judge, cannot determine the constitutionality of the enabling statute for a school bus stop-arm violation monitoring program nor whether any resulting guidelines, requirements, directives, forms, notifications or advisements emanating from that statute are lawful and thus ethically permissible. (2) A judge must comply with legal mandates. Absent a legal requirement to do so, a judge should not voluntarily comply with guidelines that are not directly enabled by the law, to the extent that they require a judge to engage in ethically impermissible conduct.

Opinion 21-57 May a judge accept an invitation to speak as a guest lecturer for a criminal justice course offered through the Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES)?

Opinion 21-59(A) A judge may speak at a victim impact panel in a jurisdiction other than that where the judge presides, but when the program is conducted online as a remote or virtual program, the judge must (1) advise the agency that the judge’s presentation is solely for program participants and must not be made available to a broader audience and (2) direct the agency to prohibit recording or distribution of the judge’s presentation by attendees.

Opinion 21-59(B) Provided the judge can be fair and impartial, a judge who was publicly censured by the Commission on Judicial Conduct more than two years ago may preside in matters involving individuals who had testified on the judge’s behalf in the disciplinary proceeding. Disclosure is left to the judge’s discretion.

Opinion 21-60 A part-time lawyer judge may serve as an assistant public defender in another county, but must not preside in any matter where another attorney from the same public defender’s office appears.

Opinion 21-61 A full-time judge (1) may contribute case vignettes and legal commentary to a for-profit casebook on mental capacity, provided the vignettes do not disclose parties' names and the commentary is consistent with the public comment rule and other limitations, but (2) may not recommend others to contribute to the casebook.

Opinion 21-62 A full-time judge may not offer their services to a congressperson to help establish, and thereafter serve on, a non-partisan service academy review board, which will (a) review the applications of those seeking the congressperson’s nomination to one of the service academies, and (b) make recommendations to the congressperson as to who should receive a nomination and in what order.

Opinion 21-63 Where a town justice serves as village attorney for a village which is wholly encompassed within the town where the justice presides, and the village retains a completely independent special prosecutor to handle all village court matters, the vast majority of which involve parking violations, the town justice may continue to serve as village attorney after the village court is abolished. However, the town justice may not preside in cases where the village is a party; if this results in frequent disqualifications, the justice must choose between the positions of town justice and village attorney.

Opinion 21-64 A sitting judge may reach out to individuals in the judge’s community who may have appropriate contacts, so that the judge may use those contacts to reveal, discuss and explore the judge’s qualifications and interest in appointive judicial office with the appointing authority, political party leaders, and relevant elected officials. However, the judge may not compensate such individuals for their time or assistance with the appointment process.

Opinion 21-65 A judge may not accept a social media company’s invitation to address its employees in-house about how legal process is authorized, the use and purpose of the company’s records in legal proceedings, and the importance of accuracy and vigilance in response to legal process.

Opinion 21-67 May a full-time justice participate, without compensation, in a commercially produced documentary comparing various judicial systems around the world?

Opinion 21-68 A judge in a large urban court may write a letter of reference for a sheriff’s deputy supervisor seeking to be promoted, based on the judge’s personal knowledge of the deputy, where the deputy supervises others who provide court security and is thus unlikely to appear before the judge.

Opinion 21-70 A full-time judge may accept an appointment to serve on the search committee for the dean of a law school that is financially supported primarily by New York State or one of its political subdivisions, even if the prior dean’s tenure or departure was controversial.

Opinion 21-71 A full-time judge may author a chapter of a book concerned with the creation of lasting reforms in the area of child welfare in the public and not-for-profit sectors.

Opinion 21-72 A town justice may preside in a matter involving an attorney from the law office which filed an Article 78 proceeding against the town and the town court clerk, provided the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 21-73 A judge may not organize a virtual fashion show for judges which will (a) showcase the merchandise of a single producer of judicial robes or jewelry, (b) include a display by a single artist who creates and sells themed jewelry, or (c) display jewelry from judges’ personal collections accompanied by information about where the items were or can be purchased.

Opinion 21-74 Absent a legal requirement to do so, a town justice must not sign an acknowledgment form attached to the town’s sexual harassment policy, where (a) the acknowledgment contains an indirect pledge by the judge to be bound by the policy’s terms, (b) the town’s policy sets forth local procedures and reporting requirements and purports to subject all town managers, supervisors and employees to local discipline, and (c) the Unified Court System has adopted a sexual harassment policy applicable to “all judges,” which conflicts with the town’s policy.

Opinion 21-75 A judge may speak at a bar association’s fund-raising event and introduce a video concerning a particular bar association initiative, even though others will solicit funds for that specific initiative in the course of the evening, provided that the judge does not personally solicit funds.

Opinion 21-76 Where a part-time town justice’s law firm has a referral relationship with an attorney, the judge is disqualified from all cases in which that attorney appears for two years from the date their business relationship is completely terminated. However, the disqualification is subject to remittal after full disclosure, even if a party is proceeding without counsel.


back to top

June 9, 2021 Broadcast

Opinion 21-23 During the pendency of a proceeding brought by the judge on behalf of the judge’s minor child, the judge is disqualified (subject to remittal) from matters involving the adverse party or parties, and their counsel. Once the proceeding terminates, disclosure is required in lieu of outright disqualification for a period of two years for those same parties and attorneys. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule, and by Opinion 21-41, which partially overrules points 2 and 3 of the digest.

Opinion 21-30 Provided a judicial candidate determines they will receive fair value for the expenditure, the candidate may permit their campaign committee to purchase subscriptions during the window period to a web-based service that (1) provides information on potential donors for use by the candidate's campaign committee for a flat monthly fee and/or (2) allows the judge's campaign committee to communicate live with voters by telephone or text for a flat per-call fee.

Opinion 21-32 A judge need not disqualify from matters involving an attorney acquaintance, merely because the attorney is the child of the judge’s spouse’s deceased former spouse, where the judge’s spouse and the attorney treat each other as acquaintances rather than family.

Opinion 21-33 May a new judge request that the county court judge transfer all of their cases, which were pending in the court to which they were recently appointed as a part-time judge, to different jurisdictions?

Opinion 21-34 (1) A judge may solicit other judges to join, or renew their memberships in, a local bar association, but may not similarly solicit attorneys or other non-judges. (2) A full-time judge may not serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit senior housing development that is likely to regularly engage in adversarial litigation in any court.

Opinion 21-35 A judge may attend a sporting event or concert in a luxury box as a guest of the judge’s spouse, where use of the luxury box seats is a benefit incident to the spouse’s employment as officer of a company that is unlikely to come before the judge, and could not reasonably be perceived as intended to influence the judge in the performance of judicial duties.

Opinion 21-36 A judge who purchased and used wooden frames for lawn signs in a now-concluded judicial campaign: (1) may not lend or donate the frames for use in another candidate’s campaign but (2) may use the frames in the judge’s own future campaign(s) for judicial office.

Opinion 21-38 May a full-time judge serve on a municipal community board?

Opinion 21-39 What are a judge’s obligations if their law clerk’s second-degree relative obtains employment with a local law firm as an attorney?

Opinion 21-40 Subject to generally applicable limitations on campaign speech and conduct, a judicial candidate may permit their campaign committee to establish a Twitter account for campaign purposes and use it to “follow” the judge’s election opponent and/or other candidates on Twitter during the window period.

Opinion 21-41 A judge, whose spouse had brought a now-settled personal injury action on behalf of their minor child against a city municipality and its education agency must make full disclosure in cases where the municipality or any of its agencies is a party for two years from the date the court signs the settlement order. However, the judge need not disclose in mental hygiene hearings where a city hospital is represented exclusively by outside counsel.

Opinion 21-42 May a judge permit their court attorney, a former assistant district attorney, to work on certain criminal cases that originated in the District Attorney’s office during the court attorney's tenure? In one instance, the court attorney made a single appearance in the case, while in the other, the court attorney had absolutely no involvement.

Opinion 21-43 May a judge sit on the board of a local human rights commission, which is involved in investigating, conciliating, and adjudicating employment, housing, public accommodation and credit discrimination claims?

Opinion 21-45 (1) Whether a judge who has reported an attorney to an attorney grievance committee may publicly disclose the reason for recusal, when confidentiality has not been waived, is a legal question we cannot resolve. (2) The judge may communicate privately with the reported attorney to advise them that a disciplinary complaint has been filed.

Opinion 21-46 A judge may accept or reject plea dispositions but, in doing so, may not adopt a broad policy that omits individualized determinations.

Opinion 21-47 A full-time judge may serve as president of a not-for-profit organization that supports a branch of the United States military through education, community outreach, and youth programs and by providing programs and services for certain military personnel and their families.

Opinion 21-48 (1) Where a judge’s spouse ceased employment with a law firm approximately five years ago and has subsequently appeared as opposing counsel to the spouse’s former law partner, the judge need not disqualify in unrelated proceedings involving the spouse’s former law partner or law firm, notwithstanding the partner’s threats to file a grievance or lawsuit against the judge’s spouse, unless and until (a) the grievance committee commences formal disciplinary proceedings against the judge’s spouse based on the partner’s complaint and/or (b) a formal adversarial legal proceeding is commenced concerning the dissolution of the financial or business relationship. (2) Where an attorney alleges in a recusal motion that the judge and the attorney previously had a close social relationship which subsequently deteriorated into an adversarial relationship, the judge should fully disclose the nature and extent of that relationship so that a determination can be made whether recusal is required under such circumstances.

Opinion 21-49 Whether a judge may order the disqualification of an attorney because of an ethical conflict, instead of deciding a pending motion filed by the attorney on behalf of the attorney’s client, is a question of law which this Committee therefore has no authority to address.

Opinion 21-50 A judge who authorizes or knowingly permits their name to appear on a publicly circulated nominating petition as a candidate for nonjudicial office is a "candidate" under the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and thus must resign from judicial office. If the judge does not wish their name to appear on the nominating petitions, the judge must object in writing to the appropriate political party leaders.

Opinion 21-51 A full-time judge may accept a grant from a not-for-profit arts services organization and use it, to the extent legally permissible, to rent space for and/or provide honoraria to poets, in order to provide free poetry readings to the community.

Opinion 21-52 May a full-time judge, who is also a poet by avocation, share their poetry at free online creative arts panels, organized by non-commercial entities, and accept an honorarium from them?

Opinion 21-53 A full-time judge may volunteer as an editor for a not-for-profit poetry journal.

Opinion 21-54 The Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct cannot comment on whether Part 8 of the Rules of the Chief Judge precludes a county jury board from appointing or reappointing a jury commissioner whose spouse has assumed full-time judicial office within the same county.


back to top

May 6, 2021 Broadcast

Opinion 20-200 On these facts, a full-time judge may not participate in a proposed not-for-profit corporation that would be exclusively controlled by the judge’s family and would feature the judge as its sole compensated lecturer with a sliding scale of fees.

Opinion 20-208 Where a publicly traded company’s sole purpose is the sale of medicinal and recreational marijuana and other cannabis-related products, a judge may not invest in the company if it is operating in the United States in violation of federal law.

Opinion 21-10 The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics cannot comment on past conduct.

Opinion 21-13 A new full-time judge may engage in activities designed to wind down their prior law practice and collect previously earned legal fees, including billing an assigned counsel program for services “as an attorney” and complying with the requirements of a state administrative agency to obtain payment on previously awarded legal fees.

Opinion 21-14 Where the judge’s spouse’s law firm has no involvement whatsoever in the case before the judge and will not share in the legal fees, the judge is not disqualified merely because the judge is aware that one of the litigants is also a current or former client of the judge’s spouse’s law firm in other matters. The judge may, in their discretion, disclose the relationship without incurring any obligation to disqualify.

Opinion 21-15 (1) A judge whose first-degree relative heads a law enforcement agency must disqualify from all matters involving the agency, including matters where the judge concludes the agency or its personnel have been or will likely be involved. Remittal is not permitted. (2) While the judge need not undertake an active inquiry or other extraordinary measures in every criminal matter, the judge must adopt reasonable procedures to avoid presiding over matters involving the agency, such as making reasonable inquiry if the judge suspects the agency was or may become involved in a particular matter.

Opinion 21-16(A) Where a judge’s law clerk previously served as law clerk to a recently retired judge, and that ex-judge is now employed as an attorney in a government law office: (1) if the ex-judge does not appear, the judge may preside and need not insulate the law clerk or disclose the prior employment in matters involving that government law office; (2) for two years, if the ex-judge appears, the judge may not preside unless the judge insulates the law clerk and discloses the prior employment relationship.

Opinion 21-16(B) (1) A judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from matters involving an attorney who joined a highly publicized and controversial lawsuit challenging certain employment actions taken by the judge’s close relative. (2) The judge may preside in matters involving the attorney’s new colleagues at an unrelated government law office, provided the judge can be fair and impartial. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 21-17 Where a new full-time judge was previously a law firm partner and took a loan from the firm’s 401(k) profit sharing plan, the judge may remain in the plan temporarily in order to pay back the loan and receive the plan’s annual employer matching contribution based on the judge’s prior legal work and earnings. The judge must continue to disqualify from matters involving the former firm and the judge’s former partners and associates during this period and for two years after the financial relationship completely terminates. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 21-18 Once the judge’s law clerk’s first-degree relative retires and terminates their prior business and financial relationship with a law firm, the judge need not insulate the law clerk from new matters involving that law firm, even if the law firm continues to list the name of the retired attorney on its letterhead and website along with the dates of the retired attorney’s service with the firm.

Opinion 21-19 A judge with knowledge that another judge with a public disciplinary history took steps to have an acquaintance’s matter reassigned to him/herself must report the other judge to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 21-20 A judge may preside in a criminal case that arose during the judge’s tenure at the District Attorney’s office, where the matter was handled exclusively and personally by the District Attorney and the judge had no involvement with the file whatsoever.

Opinion 21-21 While a judge’s law clerk is being represented by a law firm, the judge must insulate the law clerk from all matters involving that law firm and disclose the law clerk’s conflict and insulation when that law firm or any of its attorneys appear. After disclosure, the judge may preside if the judge is satisfied that they can be fair and impartial, even if a party objects.

Opinion 21-22(B) (1) Where a full-time judge solely owns certain rental properties through a solely owned limited liability company, the judge: (a) may advertise those properties via social media or other lawful means, provided such advertisements do not mention the judge’s judicial status; (b) need not prohibit current tenants from forwarding or sharing such advertisements; (c) may, to the extent permitted by law, enter into a business arrangement providing a current tenant with a rent credit for referring new tenants, again assuming the judge’s judicial status will not be referenced; (d) is disqualified, subject to remittal, from presiding over matters involving current tenants; and (e) may not appoint or re-appoint current tenants to positions such as assigned counsel or attorney for the child. (2) If the judge’s relationship with an attorney tenant results in frequent disqualifications, the judge must either terminate the landlord/tenant relationship or divest the investment.

Opinion 21-24 On these facts, a judge may not participate in an interview with a local news station regarding the experiences of the judge’s first-degree relative at a local nursing home.

Opinion 21-25 A full-time judge may assist a bar association with its application for recognition of 501(c)(3) tax exemption status by providing guidance on the narrative description of the bar association’s activities on IRS Form 1023, provided the application is filed by the association’s attorney.

Opinion 21-26 (1) Where a town justice and town court clerk hold ethically permissible second positions within the town government, they may attend and participate in monthly town board meetings in their non-judicial/non-court capacities and be listed on the agenda in those capacities. (2) A town justice may appear at monthly town board meetings on behalf of the town court if (a) the judge concludes it is in the best interest of the court to attend and (b) the judge is satisfied the agenda reflects the town court’s status as a co-equal branch of government, rather than a department subject to the town board’s direction and control. (3) A town justice may provide a monthly cashbook and statute summary report to the town board.

Opinion 21-27 May a family court judge hear a custody/visitation case involving the same family in which the judge had previously served as attorney for the child 12 years ago?

Opinion 21-29 A full-time judge who worked for an insurance company more than a decade ago and has a pension benefit associated with that company is disqualified when that former employer appears as an insurer of a party in a lawsuit pending before the judge. However, the disqualification is subject to remittal.

Opinion 21-31 A judge may not provide a biographical video for use in a not-for-profit organization’s social media campaign, where the required release and the overall context create an impression that the judge’s video will be used to promote the organization and its gala fund-raising event.


back to top

April 15, 2021 Broadcast

Opinion 20-190 (1) A judge who objected orally and in writing to the appearance of their name in an email soliciting funds for a charitable cause need not take any further action. (2) A judge may contribute their personal funds, either alone or with a co-judge, to sponsor a family in need, and may be identified by name and title in doing so. However, the judge may not make charitable contributions in the name of the court or permit their court staff to do so.

Opinion 20-196 A town justice may respond to an inquiry from the town board and/or town supervisor concerning the performance of a town employee who has appeared before the judge for several years. The judge may comment on matters within the judge’s personal knowledge and observation, which may include their opinion about the employee’s ability to apply the law, knowledge of the law, and overall quality of work.

Opinion 20-198 A town justice may suggest that the town board amend the local leash law to include an additional, alternative sanction for violations of the ordinance, that would allow the court to order defendant dog owners to confine their repeat offender dogs in a manner that will prevent future violations.

Opinion 20-204 On assuming full-time judicial office, must a new judge have their name removed from the glass of the shared suite in which they previously practiced law? Must they relinquish the office of notary public? May they collect a legal fee on a matter that is being handled by another attorney, where any legal fees are contingency-based and the judge is “expecting a fee once a settlement is reached”?

Opinion 20-207 Where a judge has already determined that it is necessary to report another judge for an apparent incident of “ticket-fixing,” the judge is not relieved of the duty to report merely because the other judge resigned from the bench in the interim.

Opinion 20-209 A full-time judge may not be a member of a bar association task force organized to monitor and discuss fiscal and human rights issues faced by residents of a United States territory.

Opinion 20-210 Where a law firm’s managing partner is the sibling of a New York State judge, a Surrogate’s Court judge in a county specified in Section 36.1(a)(11) may not appoint any attorney of the law firm to serve as the Public Administrator, nor may the Surrogate appoint the law firm as counsel to the Public Administrator. The Surrogate may nonetheless appoint eligible members of the law firm who are on the Part 36 list to serve in other fiduciary positions except as Public Administrator and counsel to the Public Administrator.

Opinion 20-211 Where a judge’s spouse supervises assistant county attorneys in family court neglect and abuse cases, and a criminal case before the judge has material and relevant connections to a family court neglect and abuse case: (a) if the judge’s spouse is either directly involved or supervising assistant county attorneys in the “related” case, the judge must disclose the connection and their spouse’s role, but need not disqualify unless a party is appearing without counsel; and (b) if the judge is satisfied that their spouse has no supervisory or direct involvement in the “related” family court case, the judge may preside without disclosure. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-212 A full-time judge may not serve on the advisory board of the Center for Court Innovation, given that the Center regularly provides program alternatives to detention and incarceration for criminal defendants.

Opinion 20-213 A judge with personal knowledge that an attorney knowingly assisted a client in effectuating a transfer of disputed real estate under false pretenses must report the misconduct to the appropriate grievance committee. Reporting may await the conclusion of proceedings. After making the report, the judge is disqualified in all matters involving the attorney, both while the disciplinary matter is pending and for two years thereafter.

Opinion 20-214 A part-time judge who is an ordained minister, and who is legally permitted to solemnize marriages in that capacity, may establish a for-profit business to solemnize marriages as an ordained minister and advertise such business, provided there is no use, mention or connection to the judge's judicial status.

Opinion 20-215 A full-time judge may participate, without compensation, as an interviewee and consultant for a commercially-produced documentary concerning a case the judge prosecuted several decades ago, provided the case has completely terminated and no related proceedings are pending or impending.

Opinion 21-01 A town justice, who serves as village attorney for a village which is wholly encompassed within the town where the justice presides, may not continue as town justice and village attorney where the town court would be expected to hear all cases arising out of the village, including actions to enforce village zoning, parking and other local laws. The justice may not recuse from all village cases in order to retain both positions.

Opinion 21-02 A judge who believes that the statutory obligation to provide a reason for discretionary recusal is unconstitutional may act in accordance with a legal determination made by the judge on the record, but may not conceal the true basis of the judge’s ruling.

Opinion 21-04 A judge has no ethical obligation to vacate their decision in a criminal case, merely because the defendant was the judge’s student several decades ago and they remain friendly acquaintances.

Opinion 21-05 A judge must not preside in a criminal case that has been transferred to drug treatment court where the judge entered a single appearance as the prosecutor in the underlying criminal case.

Opinion 21-06 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who is the sibling of the judge’s close personal friend, where that attorney is merely an “acquaintance” under Opinion 11-125?

Opinion 21-07 The judge, a former assistant district attorney, may not preside in: (1) a criminal case in which the judge had some minimal prior involvement as an attorney; or (2) a criminal case in which a prior conviction, which the judge prosecuted approximately a decade ago, is an element of the felony offense.

Opinion 21-09 Where a party or attorney has advised the court that their preferred gender pronoun is “they,” a judge may not require them to instead use “he” or “she.”

Opinion 21-11 A full-time judge may volunteer as a participant in a COVID-19 study conducted by a hospital and may accept the same modest per-visit compensation as other participants.


back to top

March 24, 2021 Special Broadcast - Important Opinion on Remittal

Opinion 21-22(A) Remittal of disqualification is a three-step process requiring full disclosure on the record of the basis for disqualification and the voluntary affirmative consent of the parties and their counsel. However, we no longer prohibit remittal of disqualification merely because a party is unrepresented. We hereby modify our prior opinions to abolish that requirement.

back to top

February 23, 2021 Broadcast

Opinion 20-174 A full-time judge (1) may not serve as power of attorney for an elderly former client, unless the judge maintained a "longstanding personal relationship of trust and confidence" with them and obtains written permission from the Chief Administrative Judge; (2) may not chair certain local hospital entities, where their only function is fund-raising; (3) may serve as a trustee of private not-for-profit foundations which make grants to other not-for-profit organizations and accept a nominal annual director's fee, subject to the limitations on compensation for permissible extra-judicial activities; and (4) may serve as a compensated trustee of a not-for-profit cemetery association that oversees the cemetery's endowment and makes expenditures to maintain the cemetery, subject to the limitations on compensation for permissible extra-judicial activities.

Opinion 20-178 May a full-time judge, who served as a referee in foreclosure before assuming the bench, continue to hold the monies in escrow pending a court order directing their release?

Opinion 20-179 A judge may not send a letter describing the court’s issuance of a bench warrant, where defense counsel has suggested the warrant was improper and could result in civil liability.

Opinion 20-181 Must a judge take any action with respect to the submissions of a town justice in support of a town court clerk’s pistol permit application?

Opinion 20-184 May a multi-bench judge accept an award for domestic violence awareness month in their capacity as a treatment court judge, from a not-for-profit legal advocacy group that sometimes appears before the judge in family court?

Opinion 20-185 (1) A judge who previously served process for a supervisory assistant district attorney’s private law office is (a) permanently disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, from any case in which the judge served process and (b) disqualified, subject to remittal, from matters involving that law office for two years after the business and financial relationship between them completely ends. The judge may nonetheless preside in uncontested traffic cases where the defendant pleads guilty by mail. (2) Where the judge previously served process and performed contracting work for a private law firm that also employs the judge’s spouse as a secretary, the judge is (a) permanently disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, from any case in which the judge served process and (b) disqualified, subject to remittal, from matters involving that law firm for two years after the process serving and contracting relationship completely ends or until the judge’s spouse’s employment ends, whichever is later. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-187 May a full-time judge be a limited liability partner in a limited liability partnership which will apply to be a franchisee of a for-profit business, where the judge would only be a “passive investor” and “would not be involved in day-to-day operations or management of personnel” if the application is successful?

Opinion 20-189 May a town justice continue to serve in that role if their first-degree relative runs for and is elected to the co-judge position in the same court?

Opinion 20-191/20-192 Where a judge hears conflicting reports about another judge's possible comments at a meeting, but has no personal knowledge of these comments and is unable to conclude there is a substantial likelihood that the other judge said anything improper, they have no obligation to take any action.

Opinion 20-193 (1) A town justice may not speak at a town board meeting concerning a proposed town resolution opposing extension of the big game hunting season. (2) The judge may share a copy of the proposed resolution with others if it is a public record or if the town board has otherwise made it available to the public.

Opinion 20-194 A part-time judge may serve on a county's criminal justice council, which will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss issues affecting the criminal justice system and seek cooperative solutions where possible.  

Opinion 20-195 (1) A judge need not disclose, in a matter currently pending before the judge, a prosecutor’s ex parte communication asking if the judge would honor a grand jury subpoena concerning a related but now-concluded case, where the communication contained no information pertaining to the merits of the pending matter. (2) The judge may continue to preside unless the judge believes they cannot be impartial.

Opinion 20-197 A principal court attorney who hears and reports cases in foreclosure and matrimonial matters may not serve as executor of a former client’s estate, unless they establish to the Chief Administrative Judge’s satisfaction that they maintained a “longstanding personal relationship of trust and confidence” with the decedent and the Chief Administrative Judge approves the appointment in writing.

Opinion 20-199 A judge may be a regular member of a not-for-profit civic entity, organized by local homeowners, that seeks zoning changes in the judge’s neighborhood, but may not serve on its board of trustees or otherwise be involved in the entity’s leadership.

Opinion 20-201 Must a judge report information sent to them by a third party which alleges misconduct by local law enforcement agencies and the local district attorney’s office, where the judge has no first-hand knowledge of the alleged misconduct and is unable to ascertain whether any particular attorney has likely violated any ethical rules or rules of professional conduct?

Opinion 20-202 After receiving any administrative approvals that may be required, judges may collaborate with the Historical Society of the New York Courts on a project to contextualize existing art and memorials at the courthouse and install new thematic artworks created by artists from marginalized groups.

Opinion 20-203 May a judge volunteer as a “bell ringer” for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign, if the judge’s name, title and participation are not identified or announced?

Opinion 20-205 On these facts, a full-time judge may not accept a speaking engagement to discuss a not-for-profit organization’s experience in navigating a highly controversial licensing application and appeal process.

Opinion 20-206 As described, the proposed plea reduction form is impermissible.


back to top

February 9, 2021 Broadcast

Opinion 20-108 A full-time judge who underwent surgery at a not-for-profit hospital may not participate in a web program concerning performance of the hospital during the pandemic, pursuant to a comprehensive release which authorizes the program’s use of the judge’s name, likeness, picture, image, voice, personality, personal identification information and/or protected health information for any purpose whatsoever in perpetuity.

Opinion 20-157/20-160 A judge need not object to their spouse independently hosting a political fund-raiser for a candidate at the marital home, but the invitations must not refer to the judge and the judge must not appear or participate in the event.

Opinion 20-158 An appellate division justice who learns that a law firm’s website features screen shots and video of the court’s oral arguments, in which the court’s justices are visible and readily identifiable, must ask the law firm to remove them. The court may, in its discretion, post a notice on its own website advising that images and videos of the court’s justices shown on the court’s website or otherwise may not be used to advance private interests or in furtherance of any commercial purpose. The court and its justices need not monitor lawyer websites but upon learning of any such misuse in the future, a justice should object and request that the offending images be removed.

Opinion 20-159 A judge is not disqualified when the assistant town attorney appears before the judge, even if the attorney obtains the party’s endorsement and becomes a candidate for non-judicial office on the judge’s slate.

Opinion 20-161 Upon a judicial association’s filing of a disciplinary complaint against a District Attorney, its member and officer judges are not disqualified from matters in which the District Attorney appears.

Opinion 20-162 A part-time judge may serve on a subcommittee concerning the establishment of a county-wide centralized arraignment part, even where that subcommittee was created by a task force on which the judge cannot serve due to its apparent immersion in probation department programs or internal policies. The judge may also share their experience conducting off-hours virtual arraignments.

Opinion 20-163 (1) Provided the Surrogate can be fair and impartial, they need not disqualify in matters involving the Public Administrator’s office merely because (a) they relieved the PA of certain duties and (b) the PA thereafter commenced an Article 78 proceeding and filed complaints with an anti-discrimination agency and the Commission on Judicial Conduct. (2) The Surrogate need not disqualify while the Commission is investigating the PA’s complaint, but if the Commission formally charges the Surrogate with misconduct in a formal written complaint, the Surrogate must disqualify from matters involving the PA’s office.

Opinion 20-164 Whether or not a judge may hold two part-time judicial positions in the same municipal court is a legal question beyond this Committee’s jurisdiction. If it is determined that the dual service described is legally permissible, such serving would not otherwise violate any ethics rules or principles under Part 100. If there is a legal impediment to such service, the judge may not so serve.

Opinion 20-165 A judge may ethically decline to participate in a district attorney’s traffic diversion program.

Opinion 20-166 May a town justice sign a form acknowledging compliance with an Information Resources and Technology Acceptable Use Policy adopted by the town board, where the policy purports to impose new duties and penalties for non-compliance?

Opinion 20-167 There is no ethical incompatibility between foster parenthood and part-time judicial office.

Opinion 20-168 A full-time judge may serve on a bar association’s internal nominating committee, to consider and recommend individuals who are seeking board and officer seats within the bar association.

Opinion 20-169 May a Surrogate serve as trustee of a local community college?

Opinion 20-170 The Committee does not answer hypothetical or speculative questions.

Opinion 20-171 May a judge make a charitable donation to a 501(c)(3) living history farm for educational agricultural programming and/or a not-for-profit fund-raising drive for cancer research? May a judge make a temporary change in their personal appearance to help raise awareness of the need for cancer research?

Opinion 20-172 A part-time attorney judge (1) may accept an 18-B assignment to appear before a full-time judge if the assignment does not involve an ethical or legal conflict but (2) may not represent a parent in a custody proceeding where recent or pending criminal proceeding(s) in the judge’s court brought by the other parent could affect a disposition in the custody proceeding.

Opinion 20-173 A judge may not advise the police that they would approve a warrant for a higher-level charge.

Opinion 20-175 May a full-time quasi-judicial employee accept part-time employment with a private agency doing remote legal document review?

Opinion 20-176 A full-time judge may seek post-retirement listing on an ADR Provider’s roster. The judge need not disclose or disqualify in matters involving the “appeal” of decisions made by the ADR Provider’s special masters unless the ADR Provider itself appears or has a financial interest in the outcome of the proceeding.

Opinion 20-177 A town or village justice has discretion, based upon the totality of circumstances involving the law enforcement officer assigned to their court, to permit, or not, the officer to distribute a prosecutor’s plea agreements in or adjacent to the court at the prosecution’s request. In exercising this discretion, the judge must consider factors such as the officer’s actual and apparent role in court proceedings and the need to avoid even the appearance that the court itself is serving as an intermediary for the prosecution.

back to top

January 7, 2021 Broadcast

Opinion 20-102 A full-time judge may obtain a patent and license it to another.

Opinion 20-105 Under the circumstances presented, a full-time judge should not participate, in any capacity, on a bar association subcommittee tasked with addressing issues concerning the upcoming elections.

Opinion 20-113 A full-time judge may accept reasonable compensation from the home team as a sports referee for collegiate matches, even those involving SUNY/CUNY schools, where the judge is doing so “for or on behalf of” a not-for-profit sports organization independent from the competing teams.

Opinion 20-114 May a judicial candidate make certain statements in their campaign concerning the conduct of the incumbent judge who is not seeking re-election and/or make certain pledges or promises concerning their own prospective conduct if elected?

Opinion 20-116 A full-time judge may serve on the board of “location and building” for a not-for-profit religious organization, where the position involves no fund-raising responsibilities.

Opinion 20-119 A full-time judge may serve on the advisory board to a local public charter school, where the advisory board is separate and apart from the school’s board of directors and is not responsible for the school’s operations or budget.

Opinion 20-120 May a town justice continue to serve on the town court if their first-degree relative assumes the other town justice position?

Opinion 20-122 May a town justice adopt a procedure for handling uniform traffic tickets, whereby the court will (1) schedule the prosecution to come in first to review the tickets and “essentially fil[e] a written plea offer with the Court” by writing the plea offer on the ticket and signing it and then (2) on a later date, advise defendants that the ADA “has filed with the Court a written plea offer as follows”?

Opinion 20-126 A judge must make inquiries concerning their spouse’s ongoing business arrangements with local attorneys and determine if disqualification or disclosure is necessary. The appropriate frequency for inquiring is a fact-specific determination to be made by the judge based on their own assessment of the overall circumstances.

Opinion 20-130 On the extraordinary circumstances presented, this judge must insulate their law clerk from matters involving a particular family.

Opinion 20-132 A judge who donates to a fund established to create and install a public monument honoring a federal judge may also solicit co-equal judicial colleagues to contribute. The judges’ names and titles may be listed with other contributors on a plaque erected with the statue. The judge must not solicit participation from non-judges or any judges over whom he/she may have supervisory or appellate authority.

Opinion 20-133 A judicial candidate may not attend or participate in a fund-raising event for a slate of judicial and non-judicial candidates where the candidate’s name is displayed on the invitation.

Opinion 20-134 May a town justice serve on the review planning board for the same town in which they preside?

Opinion 20-136 A judge may write and submit an opinion article to a legal publication outlining what the judge considers flaws in an instrument that judges are currently required to use to assess the potential risk of re-offense.

Opinion 20-137 A part-time judge may serve on the board of a not-for-profit emergency medical services organization, where the position is not subject to public election, does not involve any peace officer status or investigative roles, and is not likely to be seen as intertwined with law enforcement functions.

Opinion 20-138 Where a judge rents an apartment to a not-for-profit organization that provides free transitional housing to homeless individuals, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, in matters involving a litigant who is currently residing in that apartment. If the judge’s tenant’s placements result in frequent disqualifications, the judge must terminate this landlord/tenant relationship or divest him/herself of the investment. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-140 Where a judge’s law firm represents a non-supervisory assistant public defender at a real estate closing, may the judge thereafter preside in matters where that attorney or others from the same public defender’s office appear, once the matter is concluded? NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-142 May a full-time judge serve on the general board of a religious denomination, which has “primary authority with regard to non-ecclesiastical policies and plans” of the denomination?

Opinion 20-144 A judge may not lend the prestige of judicial office to unequivocally support a grant application of a transition program without addressing any necessary objective facts, qualifications and/or information concerning the judge’s perspective, and personal knowledge and experience with the program.

Opinion 20-148 Where a judge and their spouse are alleged victims with an order of protection against a criminal defendant, the judge may nonetheless preside over unrelated matters involving the prosecutors, defense counsel, and police or probation officers from that criminal case. The judge also need not disqualify merely because an attorney in the case called or cross-examined the judge or their spouse as witnesses.

Opinion 20-152 A judge has the discretion to determine whether or not to accept a guilty plea under the circumstances described.

Opinion 20-154 A judge is not disqualified from presiding over an action merely because the judge knows that the unrepresented defendant has, in a completely unrelated legal matter, retained the judge’s sibling as counsel. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-155 May a full-time judge form a for-profit company to provide instruction and education on topics involving diversity, equity and inclusion?

Opinion 20-156 A full-time judge may consult with an attorney regarding the judge’s possible medical malpractice case, even if the attorney regularly appears before the judge. If the consultation is more than strictly brief and preliminary, the judge will ordinarily be disqualified, subject to remittal where permitted, in matters involving the attorney and others from the same law office.

back to top

December 10, 2020 Broadcast

Opinion 20-85 A judge may write and post a book review online, provided it is not for the purpose of promoting the book’s sale. The judge must not authorize use of the review on the book jacket or elsewhere to promote sales of the book.

Opinion 20-101 A judge may display photographs and other memorabilia of current and former elected federal officials in his/her chambers but must be mindful of the overall content, context and circumstances of the display to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Opinion 20-103 May a full-time quasi-judicial official serve on the board of a local bar association’s charitable foundation?

Opinion 20-107 May a town court provide only a copy of the weekly town court calendar to only the Assigned Counsel Program on an on-going basis?

Opinion 20-109 May a full-time judge serve on the board of a not-for-profit organization involved in supporting the historic preservation of buildings, making recommendations for the establishment of historical districts, granting support for rehabilitation projects, and providing loans to other organizations with similar goals?

Opinion 20-110 (1) A part-time lawyer judge may serve as co-counsel on a matter with a private attorney who is a non-supervisory assistant conflict defender in the same county. (2) The judge may continue to preside in unrelated cases involving other attorneys from the conflict defender’s office, provided he/she can be fair and impartial, and disclosure is not required. (3) While the judge and attorney are serving as co-counsel on this case, and for two years after it completely terminates, the judge may not preside in matters involving the attorney unless he/she fully discloses the co-counsel relationship on the record. If any party is appearing without counsel, or if the judge doubts his/her own impartiality, the judge must simply disqualify him/herself.  NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-115 What are a judge’s obligations when he/she knows an attorney appearing before him/her is also representing the judge’s spouse and his/her sibling to probate their parent’s estate and handle related matters? NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-121 It is improper for a judge to serve on a county legislature's task force, where the judge's proposed involvement seems to immerse the judge in helping the probation department implement its programs or internal policies, and the legislature has not mandated judicial branch participation.  

Opinion 20-123 A town justice may also work as a legal assistant at the appeals and opinions bureau of the attorney general’s office. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-124 A village judge must not consent to intrusions by the village police or the executive branch on the court’s independence.

Opinion 20-127 What are a judge’s ethical obligations on learning, from the attorneys’ own submissions in a case, that their clients failed to file tax returns for multiple years?

Opinion 20-129 May a full-time judge be trained, and thereafter serve, as an election poll clerk?

Opinion 20-131 A judge who was formerly a prosecutor may speak to an ethnic/cultural affinity group, made up of employees at the prosecutor’s office, about the judge’s experience as a prosecutor, the judge’s career path, and the court system’s adaptation to virtual operations.

Opinion 20-135 Where a judge is aware that an attorney before him/her was recently an associate in a law firm that is currently representing the judge, but is satisfied that the law firm’s former associate (1) had absolutely no awareness of or involvement in the judge’s representation while employed by the firm, (2) has fully ceased employment with the firm, and (3) has no ongoing business or financial relationship with the firm, disclosure is solely within the judge’s discretion.

Opinion 20-139 A court attorney-referee must disqualify him/herself in small claims real property tax assessment review proceedings that involve properties in his/her own neighborhood or in any other area of the town where a ruling might affect his/her own real property assessment. If any party is appearing without counsel, the disqualification is not subject to remittal. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-141 Where a full-time judge’s personally appointed law clerk has neither a quasi-judicial title nor functions, the judge may permit the law clerk to participate in peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protests away from the courthouse during non-working hours, but must instruct the law clerk not to comment publicly on a pending or impending case by carrying signs calling for the arrest or prosecution of certain police officers in another state.

Opinion 20-146 A full-time judge may not accept appointment to a federal health agency’s advisory council focused on improving public health among minority populations.

Opinion 20-147 May a judge participate in an exploratory committee formed by the Public Defender and the District Attorney to consider the possible creation of a district court system in the judge’s county?

Opinion 20-149 May a full-time Court-Attorney Referee answer the Governor’s call to be a poll worker, given this year’s shortage of workers as result of the global pandemic?

Opinion 20-183 May a town justice serve on their town’s “Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative,” which was formed in response to the Governor’s Executive Order 203?

back to top

Researching and Retrieving Other Committee Opinions

Search Opinions: You can use our search engine to research and retrieve other Committee opinions.  Our help page provides a few essential tips to use the search engine.

back to top

Formal and Informal Ethics Inquiries

Get AdviceIndividuals who are subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct may seek further guidance from the Advisory Committee on how to apply these and other rules and opinions to their own prospective conduct in specific circumstances.

back to top