Searchable Opinion Digests

This page lists opinions from 2009, 2010201120122013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 20172018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 which have been previously broadcast.

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Numerical Listing of 2009 Opinions

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Opinion 08-210/09-01 A part-time town justice who is permitted to practice law may not practice law in any court on which he/she serves, but may practice law in another court located in the same county where he/she presides before a judge who is not permitted to practice law and in any court located outside the county where he/she presides before a judge who is permitted to practice law and a judge who is not permitted to practice law. The judge’s associate may practice law in any court located in the same county where the judge presides before a judge who is permitted to practice law and before a judge who is not permitted to practice law and may use law office stationery in connection with such appearances as long as it does not disclose the judge’s judicial status. Once a case is commenced, a judge may not transfer the case to another non-lawyer judge solely to allow a lawyer-judge to appear.

Opinion 09-02 May a judge make available in their courtroom a list of domestic violence organizations which provide legal services to victims of domestic violence?

Opinion 09-03 A part-time judge who is not a lawyer, but who represents landlords in court proceedings pursuant to a Power of Attorney and also advises and assists “clients” about eviction proceedings, is subject to the same restrictions applicable to lawyer judges, both when he/she appears before other lawyer judges presiding in other courts in the same county where he/she presides and when he/she sits as the presiding judge.

Opinion 09-04 A judge whose child is a law intern for the summer with a local law office must disclose his/her child’s position whenever an attorney from the law office appears in the judge’s court. The judge then must determine whether his/her child has had any involvement in the particular matter before the court. If so, the judge must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal. If not, the judge may preside in the matter if he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 09-05 May a judge appear on a radio program in which the participants will discuss the Rotary Club’s humanitarian and public service projects?

Opinion 09-06 It would be permissible for a part-time lawyer/judge, representing a client in a court where there are some judges before whom the part-time lawyer judge may appear and others before whom the judge may not appear, to request that a case be assigned to the judge(s) in that court, before whom the part-time lawyer judge may appear, if the request is made before that matter has been assigned to a judge.

Opinion 09-07 What are the obligations of Family Court judges in matters where a former court attorney appears on behalf of clients?

Opinion 09-08 A full-time judge whose hobby is photography may not offer photographs, “spec images” or photographic sessions for sale to the general public. The judge may nonetheless accept occasional requests from friends, neighbors and colleagues to purchase the judge’s photographs or to have the judge make portraits or sports/action photographs for compensation. The judge may also liquidate a currently existing collection of prints on a one-time basis without referring to the judge’s official position or prepare for publication a book that includes new photographs, subject to the restrictions applicable to publishing a creative work.

Opinion 09-09 A full-time judge may receive appropriate compensation for teaching a law course at a not-for-profit private educational institution. The judge may also volunteer his/her services both as an alumni advisor in assisting in the publication of a law journal for a law school and serve as an editor of a periodical published by a local bar association listing membership activities, achievements, honors and awards.

Opinion 09-10 May a judge participate in making an educational video to promote the Justice for Children Advocacy Center?

Opinion 09-11 A judge who presided over a concluded criminal trial and proceeding in a Domestic Violence Court should not meet with the victim of the criminal conduct in order for the victim to speak to the judge about the history of abuse he/she experienced before the trial and to thank the judge for considering the victim’s views at the time of sentencing.

Opinion 09-12 A full-time judge who owns a condominium unit may act pro se to assert his/her personal rights as an individual owner in an action against the condominium board, but may not lead or advise the other condominium owners in making litigation decisions or give advice to legal counsel hired to represent a group of condominium owners in the dispute against the condominium board.

Opinion 09-13 Whether a judge must advise a defendant that a sentence imposed upon conviction after trial may include incarceration, and whether a judge is obligated to ensure that a defense attorney has so advised his/her client, is a question of law the Committee cannot answer. If the law permits or requires a judge to do either, he/she must do so impartially, without coercing the defendant to accept a negotiated plea.

Opinion 09-14 May a part-time lawyer judge or their law firm file a criminal complaint against a client who tendered an invalid check in payment of a fee? What if the judge's court has jurisdiction over such a complaint?

Opinion 09-15 May a judge serve on the board of a non-profit community action agency and rural preservation company?

Opinion 09-16 A part-time town justice must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal unless a party is self represented: 1) in any matters where a Deputy Sheriff, who also serves on the Town Board, appears as a prosecutor or a witness; 2) in any matters involving the spouse of a Town Board member who appears in his/her capacity as a Deputy Sheriff; or 3) in any matters involving the son and/or daughter-in-law of a Town Board member. [NOTE: Modified by Opinion 12-72, which distinguishes between witnesses who are spouses of town board members and witnesses who are adult relatives who do not reside with the town board member.]

Opinion 09-17 A Family Court Support Magistrate may not serve as a member of a Town Planning Board.

Opinion 09-18 A full-time judge who served on a state commission that advised the Governor about correctional facilities need not disqualify him/herself in all cases involving prison inmate matters, but should do so, subject to remittal, where matters involving the commission come before the judge.

Opinion 09-19 A part-time lawyer judge who is a practicing attorney must disqualify him/herself in cases when a police sergeant currently represented by the judge’s law firm is called to testify before the judge. For two years after the representation is concluded, the disqualification is subject to remittal. Thereafter, the judge should disclose the former representation and disqualify him/herself upon request unless the judge concludes the objection lacks merit after considering all relevant factors. The judge need not disqualify him/herself when another officer appears who might be subject to the sergeant’s supervision. If the judge does learns the sergeant is involved in a case, the judge should disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal. [NOTE: Modified by Opinion 15-51, which says that, "once the two-year period elapses, it should be within the judge’s discretion whether to disclose that the judge or his/her former law firm colleagues represented a client who is currently before the judge as a litigant." ]

Opinion 09-20 A full-time city court judge whose co-judge is also an assistant county attorney need not disqualify him/herself in matters involving the County Attorney who employs his/her co-judge or when another assistant county attorney from the same County Attorney’s office appears in the judge’s court. However, the inquiring judge should disqualify him/herself in any proceeding where the County Attorney’s office appears if his/her co-judge was involved as an assistant county attorney.

Opinion 09-21 A judge who files a complaint with the Office of Court Administration’s Managing Inspector General for Fiduciary Appointments concerning alleged misconduct by an attorney purportedly acting pursuant to an appointment as a guardian must disqualify him/herself in any proceeding where the attorney appears as counsel and, depending on the circumstances in a particular case, may also be required to disqualify him/herself when the attorney acts in some capacity other than as counsel; such as guardian, court evaluator, or trustee; during the complaint’s pendency and for two years after the complaint is resolved.

Opinion 09-22 Are the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct implicated by the District Attorney's policy authorizing any village police officer to prosecute vehicle and traffic tickets in the village court, whether or not the particular officer who appears to prosecute the ticket actually wrote the ticket?

Opinion 09-23 May a Court of Claims judge sit as an arbitrator in Small Claims Court, notwithstanding Court of Claims Act §3?

Opinion 09-24 Must judges assign counsel for unlawful possession of marijuana cases where the defendant cannot afford counsel?

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(Inquiry 09-25 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-26 May a judge volunteer to preside in a mock summary jury trial which will be presented by a local bar association as a Continuing Legal Education program?

Opinion 09-27 When the prior employer of a recently hired court attorney appears on a case with which the court attorney was previously involved, and the court attorney performs work for the presiding judge, the judge must insulate the court attorney and disclose such insulation, and the underlying reason for it, to the parties and their attorneys. Thereafter, if a party asks the judge to recuse him/herself, the judge must exercise his/her discretion in light of the facts of the particular case in determining whether recusal is warranted.

Opinion 09-28 A part-time judge (1) may not serve as co-chair or master of ceremonies of a charitable organization’s fund-raising golf tournament, but may assist with planning the event; (2) may assist with the logistics for a fund-raising event sponsored by a police organization to benefit a charitable organization but may not solicit donations, allow his/her name to be used in any aspect of fund-raising, or deliver tee shirts to sponsors; and (3) may assist a not-for-profit organization by swearing in officers of the organization, conducting disciplinary hearings for violations of the organization’s rules, auditing the organization’s financial records, and serving as the master of ceremonies for Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies provided that no fund-raising occurs at these events.

Opinion 09-29 Where a judge is acquainted with the Supreme Court Justice presiding over the judge's child's divorce proceeding, must the judge inform the parties and their counsel of this fact? Must the judge inform the Supreme Court Justice that one of the parties in the matter is the judge's child?

(Inquiry 09-30 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-31 A part-time town/village justice may not permit the municipality's code enforcement officer to also serve as a court officer in the justice’s court.

Opinion 09-32 May a judge voluntarily assume certain duties such as ordering food and processing paper work currently performed by the head of a local food pantry, run by a local church? May the Committee comment on the obligations of the inquirer's co-judge?

Opinion 09-33 What should a judge do when their spouse's second cousin (a sixth-degree relative) represents a criminal defendant before the judge?

Opinion 09-34 The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics is authorized to issue advisory opinions concerning one or more issues related to ethical conduct or proper execution of judicial duties or possible conflicts between private interests and official duties. The Committee, therefore, has no authority to respond to a question of law concerning the propriety of referring a juvenile delinquent to a local faith-based organization as part of the disposition of a case.

Opinion 09-35 A judicial hearing officer may serve on a municipality's advisory commission on municipal code revision. [NOTE: See Opinion 07-155/98-31 (issued in 2017) and seek further guidance from the Committee before relying on this opinion.]

Opinion 09-36 A part-time town judge may accept employment as an account manager for a health insurance broker that services the town in which the judge presides as long as the judge is not involved in any matters concerning his/her town and the employment does not interfere with the judge’s performance of his/her judicial duties. The judge must disqualify him/herself in any matter involving his/her employer.

Opinion 09-37 A judge may be interviewed and photographed for an on-line commercial magazine article about personal grooming decisions. The judge should not endorse any particular products, and must otherwise comply with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct in participating in the interview.

Opinion 09-38 Is it ethically permissible to provide a copy of the court calendar in advance to the District Attorney’s Office with notations summarizing the driving record for each defendant scheduled to appear?

(Inquiry 09-39 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-40 A judge may apply to a political party's judicial screening panel to determine his/her qualifications for a particular judicial office at a time when there are no actual, known vacancies for such office provided (1) there is a good-faith reason to believe there will be a vacancy later in the same election cycle; (2) the judicial screening panel process is available to all potential candidates; and, (3) the panel is an official screening panel, such as a standing panel of an existing political party.

Opinion 09-41 May a judge, outside their window period, attend a social event sponsored by an elected (non-judicial) official and paid for by that official’s campaign funds?

Opinion 09-42 A judge need not disclose the relationship nor disqualify him/herself when an attorney, who merely drafted trust instruments on behalf of the judge's parents that name the judge as a co-trustee, more than four years earlier, appears before the judge.

Opinion 09-43 (1) A judge who, prior to assuming the bench, shared office space with an attorney who now serves as the judge’s confidential law clerk and an attorney who is the judge’s personal secretary’s child, must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, when the attorney who is the judge’s personal secretary’s child appears in the judge’s court. If the judge’s disqualification is remitted and the judge continues to preside, the judge must insulate his/her personal secretary from any matter involving the attorney who is the personal secretary’s child. (2) The judge should not appoint the attorney who is his/her personal secretary’s child to serve as assigned counsel or as a law guardian.

Opinion 09-44 A judge need not disqualify him/herself nor disclose the relationship when the law firm that employs the judge’s secretary’s child in a non-legal position appears in the judge’s court, but the judge must insulate his/her secretary from the matter.

Opinion 09-45 What are a judge's obligations with respect to the partner or associate of an attorney who personally represented the judge on a matter that is now concluded?

Opinion 09-46 A judge may visit his/her third degree relative in jail and/or discuss that relative’s case with the relative’s Public Defender, as long as the judge does not have any ex parte contact with the judge presiding in the matter and does not invoke his/her judicial office or otherwise lend the prestige of his/her judicial office for his/her relative’s benefit. [NOTE: Opinion 18-120 states: "A full-time judge may provide informal, uncompensated legal advice to adult relatives involved in pending or impending civil or criminal proceedings, but may not participate in discussions with their retained counsel, as that constitutes the prohibited practice of law. To avoid even the appearance of impropriety, the judge must not attend meetings with counsel."]

Opinion 09-47(A) A part-time lawyer judge may not permit the practice of law in his/her court by a co-judge’s partners or associates or by an attorney who, while not an associate of the co-judge’s law firm in the traditional sense, is considered to be an associate for purposes of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. A town justice may otherwise preside over matters involving municipal departments that employ a co-judge's first-degree relatives and when the first degree relatives appear on behalf of the municipal department that employs them, as long the judge can be impartial.

Opinion 09-47(B) A judge who is a named defendant in a lawsuit where the cause of action is directed at the judge in his/her institutional capacity need not disqualify him/herself in an unrelated case where the attorney who commenced the lawsuit appears, unless the judge cannot be fair and impartial.

Opinion 09-48 May a part-time lawyer judge (1) sit on the board of directors of several not-for-profit corporations as well as a children’s foundation; (2) help the local library organize a 5K road race; (3) make charitable contributions either directly or through their law office; (4) remain associated in the practice of law with an attorney who becomes a conflict defender in the same county; (5) permit the judge's law partner to appear in the judge's court, either before the judge personally or before a co-judge?

Opinion 09-49 A judge who learns during a sealed grand jury proceeding that the attorney who was the subject of the proceeding intends to report his/her own misconduct to the appropriate lawyer disciplinary authority need not take any further action if he/she can verify that the attorney has done so. If the attorney does not report his/her own misconduct, the judge must determine whether he/she may legally disclose information he/she learned during the sealed grand jury proceedings. If not, then the judge has no further disciplinary responsibility under the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. If the judge may legally disclose the information, he/she then must determine whether the conduct constitutes a substantial or nonsubstantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and thereafter take appropriate action.

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Opinion 09-50 May a village justice comment publicly on the village board's vote to dissolve the village court?

Opinion 09-51 May the same individual serve as village justice and as town justice in a town which includes the village?

Opinion 09-52 A judge who presides in problem-solving courts may encourage participants to participate in alumni association activities and community services projects only if they do not involve fund-raising and may not permit the alumni association or others to announce fund-raising events by placing informational flyers in the courthouse. A judge who presides in problem-solving courts may encourage participants to participate in alumni association activities by granting them “reward credits” redeemable for a procedural benefit or privilege to the participant in court proceedings.

Opinion 09-53 May a part-time lawyer judge or their law partner represent local law enforcement officers? May the judge hire local police officers as process servers or construction workers? May the judge sit on a screening panel to interview candidates for appointment to the position of Conflict Public Defender?

(Inquiry 09-54 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-55 A judge must disqualify him/herself subject to remittal when an attorney who is representing the judge’s parent’s close corporation appears in the judge’s court. Once the representation ends, and for two years thereafter, the judge must disclose that the attorney represented his/her parent’s close corporation when the attorney or a member of the attorney’s firm appears in the judge’s court. If a party asks the judge to recuse him/herself, whether to do so is within the judge’s discretion.

Opinion 15-210/09-56 (1) A judge may join a local chapter of the Shooters Committee on Political Education only if, at the time of joining the entity, he/she is satisfied after reasonable inquiry that the local chapter and the national entity (a) do not align themselves with any political party, (b) do not endorse or promote any candidates for elective office, and (c) have the primary purpose of educating the public about firearm ownership, Second Amendment rights and legislation. (2) Where membership is permitted, the judge may join as a regular member, provided (a) such membership does not involve the judge in organizational litigation or publicly associate him/her with organizational positions on matters of public controversy, (b) the judge does not assume a leadership position in the organization, (c) the judge disqualifies him/herself, subject to remittal, should the organization appear in the judge’s court, and (d) the judge does not contribute to any political action committee or other political arm of the organization. (3) A judge who has joined a local chapter of SCOPE after making reasonable inquiry to ensure it is not a political organization within the meaning of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct may ordinarily rely on that initial assessment. However, if he/she becomes aware of facts suggesting that the entity has become politically active, the judge must either immediately resign or make further inquiries to assure him/herself that the local chapter and the national organization are not political organizations within the meaning of the Rules.

Opinion 09-57 A judge who serves on the board of a not-for-profit organization may recruit other organization members to participate in a project sponsored by the organization, but may not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities.

Opinion 09-58 May a judge preside in a moot court/mock trial demonstration at the 40th Anniversary Conference of the Excess/Surplus Lines Claims Association, a not-for-profit insurance trade association? [NOTE: This opinion is overruled by Opinion 12-44 to the extent that the audience is limited to advocates for one side of a particular category of case.]

Opinion 09-59/09-86 Subject to certain restrictions and otherwise complying with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, a part-time judge who practices law may indicate his/her judicial title on the website of the law firm at which he/she practices.

Opinion 09-60 Assuming it is legal to do so, a judge who is subject to §36.1(a)(11) of the Rules of the Chief Judge concerning appointments by the court may permit a public administrator who practices law with the judge’s former campaign treasurer to remain in office and is not required to disclose the public administrator’s relationship to the judge’s former campaign treasurer.

Opinion 09-61 A judge who must disqualify him/herself in criminal cases because he/she is the District Attorney’s 4th degree relative, nevertheless may preside when a defendant who previously has been arraigned thereafter appears in the judge’s court without representation and requests an adjournment to secure representation, as long as the judge will grant the adjournment.

Opinion 09-63 A judge may provide forensic science and crime scene processing training to a law enforcement agency that regularly appears before the judge, as long as he/she 1) does not provide partisan advice on litigation strategy or on how better to obtain convictions, 2) does not comment on pending or impending matters, and 3) does not manifest a predisposition to decide a particular type or class of case a certain way.

(Inquiry 09-63 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 09-64 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-65/09-67 A part-time lawyer judge who shares office space with another attorney or law firm, and any other judge who presides in the same court as the part-time lawyer, must prohibit the other attorney or members of the law firm from appearing in the court. [NOTE: Mostly overruled by Opinion 09-100.]

Opinion 09-66 May a judge attend a judicial reception of a local bar association as a complimentary guest, even though others attending must pay and the event is underwritten by one or more entities?

(Inquiry 09-67 is part of Opinion 09-65/09-67, above.)

Opinion 09-68 A judge who serves on a court-sponsored pro bono action committee may sign formal or handwritten letters or notes of appreciation on behalf of the committee, using either court letterhead or committee letterhead, to attorneys who serve as volunteer pro bono advocates before other judges.

(Inquiry 09-69 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-70 A support magistrate should not serve on the board of a local chapter of Birthright, an organization that is devoted to reducing the incidence of abortions by providing pregnant women with free and confidential assistance in finding abortion alternatives, but may join the organization as a regular member.

Opinion 09-71 In a situation where a judge disclosed the contents of an ex parte conversation to all counsel and parties, addressed disqualification and discussed contacting the Administrative Judge for guidance, whether or not the judge initially disqualified him/herself is a factual determination to be made by the judge. A question concerning whether a judge has the authority to change his/her mind regarding a previously determined disqualification is a legal question outside of the authority of this Committee to address. A judge should exercise his/her discretion regarding whether or not the judge need disqualify him/herself after receiving an ex parte communication about a case pending before the judge.

Opinion 09-72 A full-time judge may serve as legal guardian for his/her parent.

Opinion 09-73 May a full-time judge teach an ethics course at a private, not-for-profit university’s school of law, and accept compensation for it?

Opinion 09-74 A judge may accompany his/her spouse, who is an elected law enforcement official, to a conference in a foreign country for law enforcement leaders world wide, where the conference subject matter is sufficiently broad and the inquiring judge’s attendance is due only to his/her spousal relationship. The judge may accept payment of his/her travel and other conference expenses from the conference host, but must comply with any applicable reporting requirements.

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Opinion 09-75 Must the inquiring judge exercise recusal after receiving an ex parte communication from another judge who asked about a relative’s trial testimony in a non-jury, civil matter currently pending before the inquiring judge, sub judice?

Opinion 09-76 Must judges assign counsel for unlawful possession of marijuana cases where the defendant cannot afford counsel?

Opinion 09-77 May a judge serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit organization dedicated to youth, families and communities?

Opinion 09-78 A part-time lawyer judge who represents a local police officer in a personal matter is not disqualified from presiding over cases in which the police officer/client’s fellow officers appear.

Opinion 09-79 A judge may participate in a video production to be screened for students at the local high school to discourage them from driving while intoxicated, using illegal drugs, and smoking, provided the judge does not comment on pending or impending cases or render advice that casts doubt on the judge's ability to be impartial, and the judge’s participation does not detract from the dignity of judicial officer or interfere with the judge's performance of his/her judicial duties.

(Inquiry 09-80 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 09-81 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-82 May a judge appoint a current judicial hearing officer who serves in Family Court to a fiduciary position in the same county’s Supreme Court?

Opinion 09-83 May a part-time City Court judge (1) permit their law partner to practice in the City Court, (2) participate in a local newspaper interview regarding their tenure on the bench, (3) make charitable donations, (4) administer an oath of office to another public official while wearing a judicial robe, and/or (5) speak in public about matters that directly affect the judge's own personal interests?

Opinion 09-84 A judge may not lecture police recruits about proper courtroom decorum and demeanor when testifying in the courtroom.

Opinion 09-85 A full or part-time judge may be a compensated trustee of his/her parents’ trusts. A part-time judge may serve as a director of a closely-held family corporation, subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. A full-time judge may not be a director of any business entity except one engaged solely in investment of the judge’s or his/her family members’ financial resources.

(Inquiry 09-86 is part of Opinion 09-59/09-86, above.)

Opinion 09-87 May a judge serve on the board of a local not-for-profit organization serving children and adults with Down Syndrome?

Opinion 09-88 A part-time town justice may volunteer as a mediator for a mediation program the Unified Court System funds, as the program charges no fee for its services.

Opinion 09-89 A judge may open a court bank account in a bank for which his/her private law firm serves as legal counsel, in which he/she is a stockholder, from which he/she has an outstanding loan and in which he/she maintains three accounts, assuming that the court funds deposited in the bank will not substantially affect the value of the judge's interests in the bank and as long as using the bank ensures the judge's own safety and security and the safety of the public funds entrusted to the judge's care.

Opinion 09-90 May a judge run for and serve on a local school board and the Board of Trustees of a local public library?

Opinion 09-91 May a part-time judge serve as a hearing officer for the County Health Department?

Opinion 09-92 A full-time judge may not present an in-house CLE program for lawyers and paralegals employed by his/her former law firm. However, a full-time judge may present a CLE program that his/her former law firm co-sponsors with the County Bar Association and that would be open to all members of the local bar.

Opinion 09-93 Need a judge take any other action between disclosure and insulation of the law clerk, in matters involving "the various attorneys involved in both the sale and purchase of [the law clerk's] home"?

Opinion 09-94 A Village Justice should not prepare materials to respond to an information request from a District Attorney’s office. The Village Justice may, however, either telephonically or through in-person visits, permit access to existing court records responsive to such a request, provided that appropriate safeguards for confidential information are respected and the court does not comment on any case. Where possible, non-judicial personnel should respond to such requests.

Opinion 09-95 Where a judge was represented by a particular law firm in a disciplinary matter, must a judge disqualify in matters involving an attorney who was once a partner in the firm, but left before the firm undertook the judge's representation?

Opinion 09-96 A judge may consider a defendant’s criminal record and/or driver’s abstract during an arraignment for the purpose of setting bail if he/she is authorized to do so by law or if both the defense and prosecution have access to the same information. If a defendant’s criminal history and/or driving record is otherwise available, the judge should give copies to the defendant’s counsel or, if the defendant appears without counsel, to the defendant.

Opinion 09-97 A judge whose first cousin’s spouse is an assistant district attorney/investigator for the District Attorney in the same county where the judge presides must disqualify him/herself in any case where his/her first cousin’s spouse is involved, including where the District Attorney’s office makes an application for a search warrant. Because an application for a search warrant is an ex parte proceeding, remittal of the disqualification is not permitted. And, because the judge’s first cousin’s spouse’s involvement in the underlying matter will not necessarily be apparent from the search warrant application, the judge must inquire in each case as to whether and to what extent his/her first cousin’s spouse is involved.

Opinion 09-98 May a judge appear one time on a weekly radio show hosted by a local attorney, who regularly appears before the judge, to explain what the Integrated Domestic Violence Court is and how it operates in the judge's county?

Opinion 09-99 A part-time judge may serve on a county community services board for the county where he/she presides.

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Opinion 09-100 (1) A judge may not permit a lawyer who rents part of the law office suite from the judge and does “of counsel” work for the judge’s law practice to appear before either judge who presides in the judge’s court. (2) The judge should not transfer the lawyer’s cases to another court solely for the purpose of allowing him/her to continue the representation.

Opinion 09-101 A part-time town justice who owns an automotive towing service should not accept referrals for towing services from law enforcement agencies that appear in the justice's court, and should disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, in proceedings arising from incidents where the judge's towing service was used.

Opinion 09-102 A part-time city court judge, who is elected to serve in one city court and is temporarily assigned to serve on an “as-needed” basis in another city court in the same county, may not appear before his/her co-judge from the other city court when that co-judge is serving as an acting Family Court judge in the same county while an order assigning him/her temporarily to the other city court is in effect.

Opinion 09-103 Where a town justice was appointed to certain Part 36 fiduciary appointments before assuming the bench, may they complete the work and accept compensation for those assignments after the effective date of their appointment as town justice?

Opinion 09-104 May a judge serve as an officer or director of a not-for-profit religious corporation?

Opinion 09-105 A judge may consider a plea agreement that is memorialized in a form prepared by the prosecutor as long as the form is legally permissible and complies with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and the Advisory Committee’s prior opinions concerning plea agreements.

Opinion 09-106 May a village justice who serves without compensation preside in a case where a village trustee is the complainant?

Opinion 09-107 (1) A part-time town justice must disqualify him/herself when the town supervisor’s sibling is the defendant in a small claims case. The judge’s disqualification is subject to remittal unless a party appears without a lawyer. (2) A part-time town justice must disqualify him/herself when a former client appears in the judge’s court fewer than two years after the representation ended. The judge’s disqualification is subject to remittal unless a party appears without a lawyer. Thereafter, the judge must disclose the former representation and disqualify him/herself upon request unless the judge concludes the request lacks merit after considering all relevant factors. [NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.]

Opinion 09-108 May a judicial association lend its support to a bill in the state legislature, and urge elected officials in writing or in person to pass the bill, where the bill would (1) grant foster care agencies the discretion to delay filing termination of parental rights papers when a parent’s incarceration or participation in a residential drug treatment program is a significant factor in the child's recent foster care placement or (2) forbid the use of restraints on incarcerated women during labor and post-delivery recovery and restrict the use of restraints during transport to and from the hospital before and after childbirth?

(Inquiry 09-109 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-110 A part-time judge who practices law may represent another part-time judge who presides in a different court in a civil legal matter.

Opinion 09-111(A) An appellate court may engage attorneys, whose prior employers terminated their employment, or recent law school graduates, who are unemployed, to perform work for the court without compensation on a temporary basis. The court must insulate any such attorney assigned to the Law Department from cases involving any law firm or other legal service provider that employed the attorney during the two years immediately preceding the date the attorney begins working for the appellate court; and an appellate judge, to whose chambers an attorney is assigned to work under these circumstances, is disqualified from presiding in any matter involving a law firm or other legal service provider that employed the attorney during such two year period.

Opinion 09-111(B) It is ethically impermissible for an appellate court to engage volunteer attorneys who are being paid stipends by private law firms in exchange for deferred employment to serve temporarily in a Judicial Fellowship Program.

Opinion 08-183/08-202/09-112 Whether a judge files a formal complaint against an attorney or makes an informal report to a disciplinary authority ultimately resulting in charges of misconduct against an attorney, and whether that complaint is filed before or after the judge ascends to the bench, the judge is disqualified from presiding during the pendency of the disciplinary matter. If charges are filed, but ultimately dismissed, or if a non-public discipline is imposed, the judge is disqualified from presiding for a period of two years after that matter is resolved. In neither case is such disqualification subject to remittal.

Opinion 09-113 A part-time lawyer judge should report another part-time lawyer judge to the Commission on Judicial Conduct because, on multiple occasions, the other part-time lawyer judge has committed a substantial violation of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct by practicing law in the part-time lawyer judge’s court.

(Inquiry 09-114 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-115 May a part-time village justice's law firm act as outside counsel for the village, where the village is named as a defendant in state or federal court?

Opinion 09-116 May a town justice authorize the local Mayor, Treasurer and the Village Clerk to be signatories on the town justice’s bank account?

Opinion 09-117 May a Supreme Court Justice preside over a tax certiorari proceeding bought by a Surrogate Court Judge elected within the same district?

Opinion 09-118 It is ethically permissible for a town justice to add the District Attorney’s website address to the Office of Court Administration-approved information form for defendants charged with Vehicle and Traffic Law violations. However, before doing so the judge should obtain approval from his/her administrative judge.

Opinion 09-119 A full-time judge may serve on a regional selection panel that recommends candidates to a bipartisan Commission for a one-year appointment to the White House Fellows program.

Opinion 09-120 May a town or village justice implement a procedure to distribute traffic tickets, originally returnable before them, to their co-judge in order to distribute the tickets more equally between the two judges?

Opinion 09-121 May a town justice permit the town’s code enforcement officer to serve also as a part-time court security officer for the town court?

Opinion 09-122 May a part-time judge (1) serve as a member of a Traffic Safety Board or (2) be employed as a STOP DWI Coordinator?

Opinion 09-123/09-143 Except as otherwise provided by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, a part-time lawyer judge may serve as the defense attorney in cases that are prosecuted by the same assistant district attorney who serves as the prosecutor in the part-time lawyer judge’s court.

Opinion 09-124 May a sitting judge seek to qualify and carry a firearm within the guidelines of the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004?

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(Inquiry 09-125 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-126 A judge may not resign from active participation on the bench, but remain on the judicial payroll for the purpose of receiving compensation for accrued vacation time at the same time that he/she is an announced candidate for elective nonjudicial office.

Opinion 09-127 A law clerk or court attorney should not participate in a legal educational program for school students that is sponsored solely by a district attorney’s office, but may participate if defense attorneys also are involved in the program.

Opinion 09-128 A part-time judge whose law firm associate is village attorney to the same village where the judge presides and whose firm is special counsel to the same village where the judge presides is disqualified from presiding in all cases where the village is a party. The judge may not transfer all such matters to his/her co-judge or another court solely for the purpose of permitting his/her law firm to continue serving as special counsel and his/her associate to continue serving as village attorney. Consequently, if the judge must disqualify him/herself so frequently that his/her membership in the law firm interferes with the performance of his/her judicial duties, the judge must resign from one of the two positions. [NOTE: Modified by Opinion 19-31, which states that "a village justice whose law firm associate is the village attorney and whose firm is special counsel to the village, must either resign from the firm or resign his/her judgeship if there is any likelihood that village code matters will come before the court."]

Opinion 09-129 A judge should not permit his/her law clerk to participate with other members of the legal community in critiquing a trial advocacy course offered by the New York Prosecutor’s Training Institute.

Opinion 09-130 Do the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct address whether a judge may issue warrants or bench warrants in certain "relatively minor matters," including non-misdemeanor Navigation Law matters, which may or may not carry a jail sentence?

Opinion 09-131 A candidate for part-time judicial office who is employed as Deputy Executive Director and Director of Advocacy of a non-profit organization dedicated to the reform of the state court system, may continue to hold that position if his/her bid for election to judicial office is successful subject to the applicable limitations set forth in the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 09-132 Must a judge report an individual who sent in a handwritten note requesting an adjournment on behalf of the defendant, where the judge realized, after granting the adjournment on the merits, that the enclosing envelope listed the individual's judicial title in the return address stamp?

(Inquiry 09-133 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-134 An acting Supreme Court Justice who has had no judicial involvement in a home foreclosure sale to be held in the same court where he/she presides may purchase the home at the foreclosure sale but must not lend, nor appear to lend the prestige of his/her judicial office to influence the sale.

Opinion 09-135 Are members of a part-time judge's law firm precluded from appearing in the City Court to which the judge has been temporarily assigned?

Opinion 09-136 Where a judge does not know the identity of the complainant, the judge need not disqualify him/herself or disclose the disciplinary proceeding when one of several possible complainants appears as an attorney, and the judge is not precluded from appointing the attorney to serve as assigned counsel or attorney for the child or in any other fiduciary position.

Opinion 09-137 Whether a judge who receives a defendant's plea of "not guilty" by mail to a Vehicle and Traffic Law charge may schedule a pre-trial conference is a question of law, not ethics, and thus beyond the Committee's jurisdiction.

Opinion 09-138 A judge must disqualify him/herself when an attorney from the law firm that represents the judge in private business matters appears in the judge’s court. The judge’s disqualification is subject to remittal unless a party is unrepresented. [NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.]

Opinion 09-139 A city court judge who formerly served as corporation counsel for the same city where he/she presides must disqualify him/herself in any case involving the corporation counsel’s office that arose while the judge served as corporation counsel. However, because the corporation counsel’s office did not prosecute vehicle and traffic matters, the judge need not disqualify him/herself when a police officer from the same municipality where the judge presides appears to prosecute a vehicle and traffic matter, unless the judge cannot be impartial or the corporation counsel’s office litigated a case involving the particular officer while the judge served as corporation counsel.

Opinion 09-140 A part-time village justice is prohibited by law from serving in both an elective and an appointive village office.

Opinion 09-141 A judge whose insurance company has assigned a law firm to litigate a case involving the judge must disqualify him/herself when the litigating attorney, another attorney assisting the litigating attorney, or the litigating attorney’s partners and associates appear in the judge’s court. The judge’s disqualification is subject to remittal.

Opinion 09-142 A judge who concludes that an attorney deliberately sought to deceive the court and acted extremely unprofessionally in defiance of court directives should report the attorney to the appropriate disciplinary committee.

(Inquiry 09-143 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 09-144 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-145 A judge’s relationship to an assistant district attorney does not require recusal where the judge’s only functions regarding the grand jury proceedings are ministerial in nature.

Opinion 09-146 May a town justice be a founder or member of an autonomous club or association of motorcycle enthusiasts of a particular religious faith?

Opinion 09-147 Except as otherwise provided by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, a full-time judge who no longer presides in criminal trials may serve on the Advisory Board of a program sponsored by a not-for-profit organization that offers an alternative to incarceration for certain felony offenders.

Opinion 09-148 May a judge, during his/her window period, circulate nominating petitions seeking signatures for other candidates if those other petitions do not include the judge’s name?

Opinion 09-149 The partners and associates of a part-time village justice and acting city court judge may appear in the entirely separate and distinct town court of the town in which the village court is located, but not in the village court or city court in which the judge presides. [NOTE: Modified in part by Opinion 10-126 and Section 100.6(B)(5), with respect to certain temporary assignments.]

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Opinion 09-150 May a judge serve on the board of directors of a parochial school/academy?

Opinion 09-151 May a judge participate in a job fair as a representative of a not-for-profit organization in order to encourage members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to take an upcoming exam for the position of court officer and to provide information about the test?

Opinion 09-152 A village justice may not permit his/her part-time court officer to serve simultaneously as the village code enforcement officer.

Opinion 09-153 May a judge serve as president of a not-for-profit organization which seeks to create a permanent memorial to honor the victims of a plane crash?

Opinion 09-154 (1) A judge whose law clerk is married to a partner in a law firm must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, in any case in which a lawyer from that firm appears. (2) Because the inquiring judge believes that he/she can be impartial in cases involving the law clerk’s spouse’s law firm, the judge should not initially arrange to have a court clerk automatically assign the law firm's cases to other judges, as it is not yet known to what extent parties and their lawyers will withhold their consent to remittal. (3) A judge must afford the parties and their lawyers a fair and reasonable opportunity to consult and reach a decision as to remittal of the judge’s disqualification. [NOTE: Modified by Opinion 13-26, which requires insulation and disclosure, rather than disqualification.]

Opinion 09-155 May a judge serve as president of a non-profit organization which serves the community?

Opinion 09-156 A full-time city court judge (1) may participate in an informal, non-governmental civic group of individuals interested in addressing the city's quality of life, economic and social problems, subject to several considerations; and (2) may assist the group in organizing a public, non-partisan mayoral candidate forum.

Opinion 09-157 May a village justice appear before the village planning or zoning board to represent the judge's personal interests as an individual owner of real property and as the president of a corporation which owns real property?

(Inquiry 09-158 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-159 May a town justice accept a position as a part-time deputy corporation counsel in the same county, where the position would involve defense of negligence claims against the city in Supreme Court and federal court?

Opinion 09-160 It is ethically impermissible for a judge to allow the state police to determine trial dates in vehicle and traffic law cases to avoid incurring overtime costs associated with court appearances by state troopers. However, the judge may consider a state trooper’s regularly scheduled work hours as one factor, along with the needs of defendants, their attorneys, witnesses and the court’s limited resources, in determining the best trial date in a particular case.

Opinion 09-161 A family court judge must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, from any child protective case prosecuted by the judge’s court attorney’s child or an attorney the judge’s court attorney’s child directly supervises. [NOTE: Modified by Opinion 13-26, which requires insulation and disclosure, rather than disqualification.]

Opinion 09-162 If an independent judicial qualifications commission issues only one of two ratings - “qualified” or “not qualified” - a judicial candidate may not state that he/she has received the “highest” or “best” rating from the commission. A judicial candidate may comment about his/her opponent’s rating by an independent judicial qualifications commission as long as his/her comments are accurate and not misleading.

Opinion 09-163 May a part-time lawyer judge represent family members of police officers employed by a police department that appears in the judge's court?

Opinion 09-164 What should a judge do on realizing that they may have been without jurisdiction to hear and adjudicate certain proceedings?

Opinion 09-165 (1) A Judicial Hearing Officer is prohibited from serving either as chair or counsel to an Ethics Committee for a political party. (2) A Judicial Hearing Officer who is only considering a run for political or public office, but is not yet an announced candidate in his/her Window Period may not attend political events. (3) As a private attorney, a Judicial Hearing Officer may give legal and/or ethical advice to public officers, party officials and/or political party members so long as (A) he/she is formally retained so that an attorney-client relationship exists; (B) his/her actions are clearly identifiable as those of an attorney representing a client, and not as partisan political activity; and (C) he/she is fairly compensated for his/her legal services.

Opinion 09-166 May a judge publicly support a bill designed to improve prisoner healthcare and to increase state accountability for such care?

Opinion 09-167 A judge may accept a piece of artwork on behalf of the Unified Court System and display it in the courtroom after obtaining his/her administrative judge’s approval to do so.

Opinion 09-168 A part-time lawyer judge who presides in a court located in the Third Judicial Department may be assigned or accept appointment as a law guardian unless such assignment involves a legal or ethical conflict of interest.

Opinion 09-169 May a judge participate in marketing their novel in the event it is published?

Opinion 09-170 A part-time judge may serve on the board of directors of a local not-for-profit organization that awards scholarships to aspiring seminarians, as long as the judge does not personally participate in the solicitation of funds. The judge and his/her spouse may purchase tickets to and attend the organization’s fund-raising events, but may not solicit others to attend. Finally, the judge’s name may appear in the organization’s newsletter, and his/her judicial designation (i.e., “Honorable”) may be included if comparable designations are used for other persons on the letterhead.

Opinion 09-171 Must a judge report a litigant the judge believes offered a false instrument for filing?

Opinion 09-172/10-31 (1) A criminal court judge who testified as a fact witness in a different court on behalf of a criminal defendant’s adversary about the criminal defendant’s physical condition at arraignment may continue to preside in the pending criminal matter involving the same defendant, unless the judge believes that he/she cannot be impartial. (2) A judge presiding in a Family Court proceeding who learns that a party has been charged with forging the judge’s signature on an order and signs an affidavit indicating that the signature on the order is not his/hers need not disqualify him/herself from the Family Court proceeding, unless the judge believes that he/she cannot be impartial.

Opinion 09-173 A town justice may not assist the prosecution by notifying each complainant police officer of the scheduled trial date for a traffic offense.

Opinion 09-174 A judges' association may permit a vendor to set up a table promoting its court-related service during the association's conference on the premises of a private hotel and may accept compensation from the vendor in exchange for the table, provided that there is no endorsement of the vendor's services by any judge or the association.

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Opinion 09-175 A Family Court judge may visit a domestic violence shelter, but when interacting with shelter occupants, the judge must refrain from discussing court-related issues or pending cases.

Opinion 09-176 Two judicial candidates may display campaign lawn signs that have both candidates names printed on them, but they may not send voters one letter conveying both candidates’ qualifications and bearing both candidates’ signatures that is printed on letterhead comprising both candidates’ names.

Opinion 09-177 May a judge and a court attorney-referee attend a benefit dinner hosted by an adoption agency which regularly appears in their court?

Opinion 09-178 A town justice should not also serve as administrator of the county’s assigned counsel program or conflict defender’s office.

Opinion 09-179 A judge who referred a number of matters in which a particular attorney served as a fiduciary to the Office of Court Administration’s Managing Inspector General of Fiduciary Appointments for investigation must disqualify him/herself in any proceeding in which the attorney appears for a period of two years after said Inspector General completes his/her investigation.

Opinion 09-180 A judge may attend a political party caucus held for the purpose of nominating and voting for political candidates and may vote for the candidate(s) of his/her choice even if voting is accomplished other than by secret ballot.

Opinion 09-181 (1) A judge may speak about family law to employees of an insurance company at an Employee Assistance Program event. (2) A judge may not speak about domestic violence from a judge’s perspective given the current economy during a private law firm’s forum for women. (3) A judge may not speak during programs sponsored by not-for-profit organizations that represent victims of domestic abuse.

Opinion 09-182 May a judge participate in a videotaped interview with a for-profit organization, to be used as part of a documentary that would accompany a criminal justice textbook? [NOTE: Essentially overruled by Opinion 17-163/18-03/18-21.]

(Inquiry 09-183 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-184 A part-time judge who presides in a justice court may permit the court clerk to also serve as an elected part-time county coroner.

Opinion 09-185 May a judge participate in a panel discussion involving women in the judiciary, as part of a fund-raising program for a legal advocacy fund?

Opinion 09-186 A full-time judge may apply to and, if accepted, reside for one month in an artist colony that offers free room and board to all participants.

Opinion 09-187 May a full-time judge appear in an episode of a television series?

Opinion 09-188 A judge who cannot be impartial when a certain attorney appears in the judge’s court must disqualify him/herself from the attorney’s cases. There is no provision in the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct that permits a judge to prevent an attorney from appearing in the judge’s court.

Opinion 09-189 May a judge preside in a matter involving the niece/nephew of the judge's aunt/uncle by marriage?

Opinion 09-190 Before a judge must take action with respect to another judge’s possible misconduct, the judge must have information indicating a substantial likelihood that the other judge has committed a substantial violation of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 09-191 A judge who was admonished by the Commission on Judicial Conduct, but who does not know the identity of the complainant, need not disclose that the disciplinary action occurred when an attorney who could be the complainant subsequently appears in the judge’s court; nor is the judge precluded from appointing such attorney to fiduciary positions for which the attorney otherwise qualifies.

Opinion 09-192/09-231 A full-time judge may pursue his/her artistic or other creative endeavors as a hobby and may seek compensation for such endeavors on an occasional basis, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 09-193 A judge who presides in a specialized part of the Supreme Court and receives assistance from an attorney who volunteers as a Special Master must disclose the relationship when other attorneys from that attorney's law firm appear in the judge's court. If a party objects to the judge continuing to preside, the judge has the discretion to recuse or, assuming he/she can be impartial, to continue to preside, depending on the circumstances in each case.

Opinion 09-194 When a candidate for Supreme Court Justice formally withdraws his/her name from consideration before the judicial nominating convention takes place, his/her Window Period ends six months from the date of his/her withdrawal or six months from the date of the nominating convention, whichever is earlier.

(Inquiry 09-195 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-196 May a judge serve on a traffic safety committee task force, as part of the court “team” consisting of judges and representatives from both the prosecution and defense in order to identify issues which affect the courts’ ability to adjudicate impaired driving cases?

(Inquiry 09-197 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-198 Must a judge object to their spouse writing a letter to a Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division to support reinstatement of a disbarred attorney?

Opinion 09-199 May a judge sponsor a not-for-profit club to which the judge belongs by purchasing an ad on a placemat stating “Best Wishes” and denoting the judge's name and judicial title?

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Opinion 09-200 May the court system's Access to Justice Program, in partnership with a bar association, present a CLE program with judges and other panelists addressing ethical issues for pro bono attorneys, where the program will be hosted by a private law firm but will be open to the public and widely advertised to lawyers?

(Inquiry 09-201 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-202 May a judge, if subpoenaed, testify as a character witness in a criminal case pending in another state?

Opinion 09-203 A full-time judge may permit his/her law clerk to continue serving as treasurer of the county bar association, even if the bar association allows the district attorney to print his/her policies concerning disposition of Vehicle and Traffic Law citations on its letterhead, which includes the law clerk’s name, and makes copies available at each of the local courts.

(Inquiry 09-204 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-205 What should a village justice do concerning certain operational charges allocated to the justice court line in the village budget, which the justice believes are not proper court expenditures?

(Inquiry 09-206 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-207 A full-time judge may serve on the board of a mutual benefit corporation organized pursuant to Insurance Law Article 43, which governs the operation of Non-profit Medical and Dental Indemnity, or Health and Hospital Service Corporations, and receive the same compensation for attending meetings as do other members of the board.

Opinion 09-208 May a town justice address the local sheriffs association about the types of cases handled by the court, how they are handled by the court and the court’s caseload?

Opinion 09-209 A board of judges may accept gift certificates awarded pursuant to a restaurant promotion as long as no member judge has presided or is likely to be presiding over a matter in which the restaurant was or is a party and may award them as prizes to member judges for participating in a sporting event held during the board’s annual retreat. A judge who accepts a certificate as a prize from the board must follow the applicable reporting requirements.

Opinion 09-210/09-228 (1) A candidate for town justice may not continue his/her employment as a Magnetometer Screening Officer for a nearby city police department after taking office. (2) A part-time town or village justice may not accept a position with the Department of Homeland Security as a Transportation Security Officer.

Opinion 09-211 A judge may authorize his/her law clerk to conduct conferences on pending matters and to share with the parties the law clerk’s view about the case and the issues involved. However, because the judge must retain adjudicative responsibility, the law clerk must make clear that he/she is expressing his/her own opinion about the case and that the judge will make his/her own independent judicial decision regardless of the law clerk’s views.

(Inquiry 09-212 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-213 May a part-time judge continue to serve as a referee on matters to which they were previously appointed before assuming judicial office?

(Inquiry 09-214 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-215 Where a judge's second-degree relative (sibling) is a member of the city council, may the judge preside in cases where the city is a party?

Opinion 09-216 A judge may explain to the parties why the judge has rejected a proposed plea agreement, as long as the explanation is based upon legitimate concerns and does not involve the judge in improper ex parte communications.

(Inquiry 09-217 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-218 Nothing in the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct requires a judge to comply with a charitable organization’s request that the judge refund a contribution the organization made several years ago to the judge’s re-election campaign. However, the judge may make a donation to the organization from his/her personal funds in the amount of the campaign contribution.

Opinion 09-219 A judge who has been subpoenaed for deposition as a non-party witness by the defendant law firm in a legal malpractice action must disqualify him/herself in unrelated cases pending in his/her court where the defendant law firm appears while a motion to quash the subpoena is pending or until the judge’s deposition is completed, but only if the judge must take some judicial action in a case involving the law firm.

Opinion 09-220 Where a judge's first-degree relative (their child's spouse) is assigned to the intake bureau of the District Attorney's office, may the judge hear an appeal arising from that office?

(Inquiry 09-221 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-222 A town justice-elect who, when he/she takes office, will have been retired for more than two years after thirty-one years of employment by the police department for the same town where he/she will preside, may adjudicate matters involving the same police department as long as the judge had no personal involvement in the matter before him/her and the judge can be impartial.

Opinion 09-223 A town justice who disqualifies him/herself from all cases involving a particular attorney must do so at the outset of each case, and may not conduct an arraignment before doing so.

(Inquiry 09-224 did not result in a published decision.)

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(Inquiry 09-225 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-226 May members of a local magistrates’ association urge the association to petition the state legislature to repeal legislation mandating the collection of surcharges in local courts?

Opinion 09-227 May a part-time judge continue to serve as a referee and law guardian for matters in which the judge was appointed a fiduciary pursuant to 22 NYCRR part 36 prior to assuming judicial office?

(Inquiry 09-228 is part of Opinion 09-210/09-228, above.)

(Inquiry 09-229 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 09-230 A judicial hearing officer (JHO) who is designated to the JHO panel for the Supreme Court in a particular county may not practice in that court, but may continue to accept, complete or perfect appeals from other courts in the same county so long as he/she is not designated to the JHO panel in those courts, and may continue to serve as a mediator in matrimonial matters so long as no party has commenced an action in a court where the JHO has been designated to the JHO panel. [NOTE: Modified by Opinion 14-129(B) and by the 2019 amendment to Section 122.10(c). That provision now states: "A judicial hearing officer shall not participate as an attorney or, unless appointed by the court on terms including receipt of compensation pursuant to section 122.8 of this Part, as a referee, mediator, or arbitrator, or similar officer, in any contested matter in a court in a county where he or she serves on a judicial hearing officer panel for such court."]

(Inquiry 09-231 is part of Opinion 09-192/09-231, above.)

Opinion 09-232 May a judge preside over cases in which the public authority, which the judge represented before assuming the bench, appears as a party?

Opinion 09-233 A part-time lawyer-judge who owns a building and rents space to four other businesses, including two attorneys, may not permit the attorneys to appear before either judge in the judge’s court because the attorneys are the judge’s tenants and they share a fax machine and number with the judge.

Opinion 09-234 May a judge serve on the same board of directors of a non-profit organization with an attorney who regularly appears before in the judge's court?

Opinion 09-235 (1) A town justice also may serve as town attorney for a different town, and may arraign defendants for that different town where neither town has a municipal police department, but receives law enforcement services from the New York State Police and the District Attorney serves as the prosecutor. (2) As town attorney, the town justice may not represent the town in any courts in the county before judges who are permitted to practice law.

Opinion 09-236 A judge who is a member of an advisory board to a university law school must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, when either the law school or the university is a party in the judge’s court.

Opinion 09-237 May a town justice also serve as fire police member and chaplain for the local volunteer fire department?

Opinion 09-238 (1) A newly elected part-time town justice who is employed by the county health department may not continue to participate in Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act (ATUPA) enforcement activities for the department after he/she takes office. (2) A newly elected part-time town justice may continue to serve on the board of a foundation that raises money to pay for students to attend college, but cannot participate in any of the foundation’s fund-raising activities.

Opinion 09-239 A judge need not disqualify him/herself when an attorney, who appears in the judge’s court, previously testified as a witness in an unrelated proceeding in the judge’s court and whose credibility the judge had to assess in reaching a decision, as long as the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial. Also, the inquiring judge may not permit his/her co-judge’s law practice associates to practice before the inquiring judge.

Opinion 09-240/09-241/10-06 A judge may attend the swearing-in ceremony and post-ceremony reception for a newly-elected public official and may administer the public official's oath of office, even if the event is sponsored by the official's campaign committee or paid for by unused campaign funds, as long as the event is not a fund-raiser.

(Inquiry 09-241 is part of Opinion 09-240/09-241/10-06, above.)

Opinion 09-242 A Judge whose first degree relative is in charge of the road patrol division of the county sheriff’s department, for the same county where the judge presides, must disqualify him/herself in all sheriff’s department cases in which the relative is involved or appears and in any proceeding where officers who are subject to the relative’s supervision appear. While this disqualification is subject to remittal, except where a party appears without counsel or if a matter is before the judge ex parte, the judge should seriously consider recusal where his/her first degree relative holds such a high ranking supervisory law enforcement position. [NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.]

Opinion 09-243 Where the judge has reported certain alleged violations of the election law to the District Attorney, must the judge take any action if the judge believes the District Attorney has failed to act on this information?

Opinion 09-244 A judge may participate in the public debate regarding the need for a constitutional convention to reform the New York judiciary, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 09-245 Where an attorney’s participation in a judge’s election campaign is more than minimal, but not at the formal leadership level, the judge need not disqualify him/herself when the attorney appears in the judge’s court if the judge can be impartial. However, for two years after the election, the judge should disclose the nature and extent of the attorney's involvement in the judge's campaign when the attorney appears. If a party objects to the judge’s continued involvement in the matter, disqualification is left to the judge’s discretion.

 

Numerical Listing of 2010 Opinions

[Jump to 2009, 20102011201220132014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 201820192020, 2021, 2022]

Opinion 10-01 May an acting village justice serve as chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals for an adjoining village, which is a separate jurisdiction?

(Inquiry 10-02 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 10-03 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 10-04 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-05 May a judge hear certain cases involving the County Attorney’s Office in the same county in which the judge's spouse was recently appointed County Attorney?

(Inquiry 10-06 is part of Opinion 09-240/09-241/10-06, above.)

Opinion 10-07 (1) Subject to certain limitations, a judge may write a letter of reference for an attorney who regularly appears in the judge’s court who is seeking other legal employment. (2) A judge may comply with a District Attorney’s request to prepare a Victim Impact Statement setting forth the judge’s views as to sentence only, for use when the defendant who forged the judge’s signature to court documents is sentenced.

(Inquiry 10-08 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 10-09 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-10 A town justice may permit the justice court clerk to also serve as the Receiver of Taxes for the same town where the town justice presides.

Opinion 10-11 May a judge who announces their intent to seek higher judicial office administer the oath of office to officers of a political club or committee at a political function?

Opinion 10-12 May a part-time judge serve on the Revaluation Review Committee and the Finance Advisory Committee of the municipality where the judge presides?

Opinion 10-13 A judge should not meet with the Chief of Police and the Commissioner of Public Works for the municipality where he/she presides to discuss the judge’s decisions to dismiss a number of parking tickets issued for illegal overnight parking.

Opinion 10-14 An inquiring judge must report to the Commission on Judicial Conduct the fact that another judge offered to have a police officer destroy a traffic ticket the officer issued to the inquiring judge’s relative.

(Inquiry 10-15 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-16 May a judge, who served as co-executor of a relative's estate 10 years ago, pursue and distribute apparently undistributed assets of that estate which have recently come to light?

Opinion 10-17 A part-time town justice may not serve voluntarily as a character reference for a friend who is applying for a pistol permit.

(Inquiry 10-18 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-19 A town justice should not participate as an election observer in the town where he/she presides when certain town government employees cast their votes for or against unionization.

Opinion 10-20 May a town justice permit a part-time court employee, whose primary job is to assist the court clerk as a data entry person on a limited part-time basis, to also serve as a part time constable in the same town?

Opinion 10-21 What is a judge's obligation in matters involving the law firms which represented the judge's father in county court and on appeal?

Opinion 10-22 A judge may assist with general setup, food preparation, and cleanup during a volunteer fire department’s annual fund-raiser as long as the judge does not personally participate in the solicitation or collection of funds or other fund-raising activities that occur during the event.

Opinion 10-23 A judge whose spouse is the confidential secretary to the sheriff may preside over cases involving the sheriff's department, as long as the judge can be impartial and discloses his/her spouse’s employment relationship.

Opinion 10-24 A full-time judge may accept an invitation from a government agency of another country to speak at a forum about the administration of justice and may accept the agency's offer of a $3,000 stipend and payment of airfare and local accommodations for a three-day visit.

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Opinion 10-25 A part-time judge may not refer to his/her judicial status in advertisements for his/her private law practice.

Opinion 10-26 A judge who believes that he/she can continue to preside in a judicial proceeding “fairly and impartially” need not disqualify him/herself after a court employee, without authorization, accessed the recording of a confidential (Lincoln) hearing held during such proceeding. However, if it is legally permissible to do so, the judge should disclose that the incident occurred to the adult parties and the attorneys involved in the judicial proceeding.

Opinion 10-27 A judge may not endorse or promote education programs offered by a particular company, but may include the company’s name and contact information on a list of possible programs a defendant may choose to complete in order to earn a reduction or dismissal of pending charges. If no other programs exist, the judge may provide a defendant with an information sheet about the company.

Opinion 10-28 A part-time judge may serve as an unpaid commissioner of the New York State Council of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, subject to certain limitations.

(Inquiry 10-29 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-30 May a part-time judge continue to maintain membership in certain not-for-profit organizations which involve charitable and civic pursuits? May the judge provide legal services to these entities or assist them in their fund-raising efforts? May the judge participate in not-for-profit "hobby clubs" devoted to the breeding and showing of pure-bred dogs?

(Inquiry 10-31 is part of Opinion 09-172/10-31, above.)

Opinion 10-32/10-48 A judge may consent to a plea agreement that includes a defendant’s participation in a district attorney’s traffic ticket diversion program if the plea agreement is fair and appropriate with respect to the particular defendant and if the traffic ticket diversion program is legal.

Opinion 10-33 A judge may serve on the Board of Trustees of a not-for-profit college foundation that encourages the development of the college by soliciting, encouraging, accepting, investing, and managing private and institutional gifts to the college. The judge may assist in planning fund-raising and in the management and investment of the college’s funds, but may not lobby for or otherwise personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities, and must satisfy the annual financial commitment that is mandatory for all board members by making a donation from his/her personal funds.

Opinion 10-34 A judge may not rent an apartment at less than fair market rental value to a litigant currently appearing in the judge’s court so that the litigant can avoid partially liquidating a structured settlement.

(Inquiry 10-35 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-36 A judge who has received information about possible criminal activities by an attorney whose identity is unknown to the judge has no obligation to determine the attorney’s identity for the purpose of reporting the attorney to the disciplinary committee.

Opinion 10-37 A town justice who owns shares in a corporation that leases office space to the same town in which the judge presides must disqualify him/herself when the town appears in the judge’s court or, if the need for disqualification is frequent, must divest him/herself of the ownership interest in the corporation.

Opinion 10-38 A judge who receives correspondence from the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct during an on-going trial concerning a complaint filed by a party to the trial, including the complainant/party’s letter to the Commission, need not disqualify him/herself from the on-going trial unless the judge believes he/she can no longer be impartial.

(Inquiry 10-39 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 10-40 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-41 May a judge give assignments pursuant to County Law article 18-B to a judge who recently retired from the same court? Does it make a difference that the judge's current law clerk previously worked for that recently-retired judge for ten years?

Opinion 10-42 May a town justice permit the court clerk to serve on the town board?

Opinion 10-43/10-44 (1) A part-time town justice may be a named plaintiff in the town’s insurer’s lawsuit against criminal defendants whose cases are pending in the same court where the judge presides and also may initiate his/her own lawsuit against the same defendants concerning their conduct as it relates to the town court criminal cases. (2) A judge whose court clerk is a named plaintiff in the town’s insurer’s lawsuit against criminal defendants whose cases are pending in the judge’s court need not disqualify him/herself from such cases as long as he/she can be impartial, but should insulate the court clerk from any involvement in the cases.

(Inquiry 10-44 is part of Opinion 10-43/10-44, above.)

(Inquiry 10-45 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-46 May a judge accept an invitation to be a fellow in residence at an undergraduate dormitory of the judge's college alma mater?

Opinion 10-47 May a judge, who had been previously appointed as guardian for an incapacitated person before assuming the bench, prepare and submit an application to be discharged as guardian, together with the final accounting, in a Supreme Court proceeding?

(Inquiry 10-48 is part of Opinion 10-32/10-48, above.)

Opinion 10-49 May a judge receive an award presented by the charitable arm of a bar association at its annual fund-raising event, and permit the judge's name to be included in advertising for the event?

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Opinion 10-50 A court attorney referee is not obligated by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct to report to law enforcement conduct by a defendant in a matrimonial matter that was described by the plaintiff in the matter during a hearing in which the court attorney referee presided, nor is he/she precluded from doing so.

(Inquiry 10-51 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-52 (1) A judge must exercise disqualification, subject to remittal, when the judge’s spouse’s first cousin, who is an attorney, appears in the judge’s court. The judge may not appoint him/her as a law guardian, nor should the judge ask his/her co-judge to assign the judge’s spouse’s first cousin to the judge’s part. (2) A judge may continue to use an email address created when the judge was an attorney for personal matters.

(Inquiry 10-53 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-54 A part-time lawyer judge may accept employment with a law firm to appear before the State Legislature, the State Executive Branch, and local governments on behalf of various clients, subject to certain limitations.

(Inquiry 10-55 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-56 A judge’s continuing obligation to disclose when the judge’s personal attorney appears before him/her more than two years after the representation ended depends on the particular facts and circumstances presented in each case.

Opinion 10-57 May a judge perform in a community play sponsored by a not-for-profit arts center, where the ticket prices are standard for such theater groups and the event “is not designed to raise money for a particular charity or purpose”?

Opinion 10-58 May a judge co-chair an educational conference on a timely legal subject sponsored by a for-profit entity?

Opinion 10-59 A judge may not accept an award from a Violence Intervention Program and may not appear at a candlelight vigil for those affected by domestic violence.

Opinion 10-60 (1) Disqualification of all judges within a judicial district is not required solely because a party to the proceeding is a landlord who owns the building that houses the administrative offices of the judicial district. (2) Although a Judicial Hearing Officer may not appear before any judge of a court in which the JHO is designated to serve, the judges of that court need not disclose nor exercise recusal solely because the partners and associates of the JHO appear in a matter.

Opinion 10-61 A magistrates’ association should not permit representatives from a town clerks’ association to attend their meeting for the purpose of discussing the enforcement of dog regulations to “ensure consistency between the various towns.”

Opinion 10-62 May a judge sponsor and move the admission of the judge's child to practice in federal district court?

Opinion 10-63 A town judge whose judicial position has been eliminated by resolution of the town board may circulate a petition seeking a referendum on the resolution.

Opinion 10-64 A judge does not have information indicating a substantial likelihood that a lawyer has committed a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct where an attorney publicly discloses that his/her client, who is charged with a crime, made false statements in an affidavit in support of a motion the client filed pro se and that the client is likely to do so again, as the judge does not know the substance of the alleged false statements or that the attorney’s allegation is true.

Opinion 10-65 May a judge accept a child advocacy award from a city administration for children’s services, when the judge has a small caseload where the entity bestowing the award appears as a party?

(Inquiry 10-66 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-67 A village justice should not permit the clerk of the village court to also work as a park ranger for the same village.

Opinion 10-68 A judge may serve as treasurer of a county bar association and, in that capacity, may issue checks to pay bills and may accept dues from members of the association, including attorneys that appear before the judge, but the judge’s name must not be used in connection with soliciting dues and the judge must refrain from participating in any fund-raising activities other than to assist in planning such activities or to manage or invest any funds that are raised.

Opinion 10-69 A judge who is represented by the New York State Office of the Attorney General in a federal court case need not disqualify him/herself from an unrelated case in his/her court or disclose the representation where the Attorney General’s name appears in the caption of the unrelated case as “People by [Attorney General],” as long as the Attorney General is not directly or personally involved in the unrelated case and the assistant attorney general who is appearing in the judge’s court is not the same assistant attorney general who is currently representing the judge in federal court.

Opinion 10-70 A judge who recently presided over a jury trial during which he/she individually questioned prospective jurors during the voir dire and, after declaring a mistrial, thanked each juror individually for his/her service is not disqualified from presiding over an unrelated case in which a party is one of the jurors who served in the earlier case and need not disclose the party’s prior jury service.

(Inquiry 10-71 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-72 Where a Family Court judge's secretary is being represented by a particular attorney in federal court, may the judge continue to preside in matters where that attorney appears as appointed or retained counsel?

Opinion 10-73/10-100/10-167 (1) A part-time lawyer judge may appear before another part-time lawyer who presides in the same county and is not admitted to practice law in New York State but is permitted to practice law in another state. (2) A part-time lawyer judge may appear before another part-time lawyer judge who presides in the same county and is employed full-time by the Unified Court System as a full-time law clerk or a full-time court clerk.

Opinion 10-74 May a judge, at the invitation of the local police department, give a lecture about the Penal Law and the Criminal Procedure Law to a group of high school students who have enrolled in a mock police academy internship program?

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Opinion 10-75 May a judge permit their child to use a family photograph including the judge as part of the child’s political campaign literature?

Opinion 10-76 A judge’s law clerk who is not a candidate for election to public office and who already has made $500 in political contributions during a calendar year may not purchase additional tickets to political functions held during the same calendar year even if the amount the law clerk pays for a ticket equals the actual cost of his/her attendance only and does not include a contribution to a political campaign or other partisan political activity.

Opinion 10-77 A judge may serve as an officer of family corporations that invest in real estate.

Opinion 05-35/10-78 (1) A judge planning for retirement may seek future employment with law firms, governmental agencies or educational institutions, but must refrain from using official stationery or resources in soliciting potential future employers. (2) A judge who has a preliminary, informational meeting with members of a law firm to gather information about possible post-retirement employment, but who has neither actively pursued nor been offered a position at the firm, need not disqualify him/herself when the law firm subsequently appears in the judge’s court as long as the judge believes that he/she can be impartial. (3) Whether disqualification is required when the law firm later makes an offer of employment, but no employment relationship results, depends on the specific circumstances of the negotiations.

Opinion 10-79 A judge may serve on a committee formed to urge a county legislature to adopt a resolution naming a court building in honor of a deceased judge.

Opinion 10-80 Although a candidate for elective judicial office may not use campaign funds to make civic or charitable donations, the candidate may, during his/her window period, promote his/her candidacy by sponsoring a local softball team.

(Inquiry 10-81 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-82 A part-time lawyer judge may have a brief conversation with a friend and/or client who calls the judge during an arrest and suggest that the friend and/or client contact another attorney when the judge knows that he/she cannot represent the friend/client because the resulting case would likely be filed in the judge’s court.

Opinion 10-83 (1) A judge may not participate in a candidate’s campaign for legislative office, even if the judge agrees with the candidate’s position on judicial raises. (2) A judge may, but is not required to, adopt a policy that all in-court negotiations and discussions between counsel and self-represented persons must take place in the judge’s or a court attorney’s presence.

Opinion 10-84 Subject to all applicable provisions of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, a full-time judge may publish a Bench Book relating to a particular topic that he/she commonly addresses in cases over which he/she presides, may market the book, and may collect revenues and/or royalties based on its sales.

Opinion 10-85 When a judge receives information indicating a substantial likelihood that a lawyer’s conduct constitutes a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, but does not rise to a level that seriously calls into question the attorney’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer, the judge has the discretion to take some appropriate action other than reporting the conduct to a disciplinary authority.

Opinion 10-86 A judge who believes that the charges in a criminal complaint against a lawyer would, if proved, constitute a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct is not required to take any action unless he/she concludes there is a substantial likelihood that the charges are true. If the judge does report the lawyer, the judge must disqualify him/herself, without the possibility of remittal, if the lawyer appears before the judge while the disciplinary complaint is pending.

Opinion 10-87 A full-time judge need not grant an attorney’s request for the judge’s recusal from all cases involving the attorney’s law firm based on the fact that, seven to ten years ago, the judge’s former law firm represented a party that sued the attorney’s law firm and the attorney’s spouse.

(Inquiry 10-88 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 10-89 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 10-90 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-91 A full-time judge who also has administrative responsibilities may serve on a state-sponsored justice advisory group that develops state-wide policies in a certain area of the law and may review and vote on requests for federal funds from both government and non-government entities, that will collaborate with the New York State court system in carrying out their activities, as well as proposals that New York State Court System representatives submit to the group.

Opinion 10-92 A full-time judge may not serve on the Board of Directors of a for-profit health care facility.

Opinion 10-93 A town justice should not permit a town employee who is not subject to the town justice’s supervision and control to transport funds the court receives to the bank for deposit.

Opinion 10-94 (1) Where an attorney pays for space in an attorney town justice’s law office by performing legal work for the part-time justice’s law firm, and the said attorney town justice includes the attorney on the justice’s malpractice insurance coverage in exchange for a percentage of any fees the attorney earns, the attorney is the town justice’s associate and thus may not appear in the attorney town justice’s court either before him/her or his/her co-judge(s). (2) Absent any other disqualifying factors, an attorney town justice’s associate is not prohibited from appearing before the town zoning board or participating in other town administrative proceedings in the same town where the town justice presides. (3) An attorney who is an attorney town justice’s associate may appear on behalf of the justice’s clients or the attorney’s own clients in other justice courts in the same county where the town justice presides before both attorney and non-attorney justices.

Opinion 10-95 A non-judge candidate for judicial office may continue to offer an online software tool and online legal commentaries for sale to the public during the course of his/her campaign and, if his/her campaign is successful, after assuming the bench. However, as a full-time judge, he/she must refrain from direct involvement with marketing, sales, billing, collections and accounting practices.

Opinion 10-96 A judge should disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, while the judge is negotiating a mortgage loan with a bank that also may be the undisclosed seller of the property the judge is buying when the bank or a subsidiary of the bank appears in the judge’s court.

Opinion 10-97 May a judge teach an evening class in paralegal studies at a local community college for compensation?

Opinion 10-98 May a full-time court attorney also serve as a part-time town justice in the same county?

Opinion 10-99 What are a judge's obligations involving the attorney who represented the judge's ex-spouse against the judge in a family court matter, or the attorney’s partners and associates who were not involved in the ex-spouse’s representation, once the matter is concluded?

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(Inquiry 10-100 is part of Opinion 10-73/10-100/10-167, above.)

Opinion 10-101/11-01 (1) A candidate for Supreme Court may use his/her own campaign funds to pay for campaign literature or mailings in which the judicial candidate will ask voters to vote in a primary election for the judicial convention delegates who will support his/her nomination, but the candidate must make clear that his/her endorsement of the delegate candidates is for the purpose of furthering his/her own candidacy. (2) In such campaign literature or mailings, the Supreme Court candidate may announce and comment on the fact that particular delegate candidates have pledged to support him/her but should not further describe or comment on the delegate candidates’ views or stances on issues. (3) A Supreme Court candidate may not make campaign contributions to a delegate candidate’s campaign and may not pay for the delegate candidates’ own advertisements. (4) A Supreme Court candidate may circulate petitions containing only the names of the delegate candidates who will support his/her nomination, and no other names, but must make clear that his/her endorsement of such delegates is for the purpose of furthering his/her own candidacy. (5) All such campaign activities are ethically permissible only to the extent that they are legally permitted and otherwise performed in compliance with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 10-102 A judge may appear monthly on a local television news broadcast to answer questions about a predetermined topic relating to the criminal justice system, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 10-103 May a judge (1) participate as a “waiter, bus boy, cook or dishwasher” at the annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the local chapter of a not-for-profit civic or charitable club and (2) participate in “cooking/selling/serving hot dogs and hamburgers” from the club’s trailer at the club’s summer fund-raiser program?

Opinion 10-104 May a part-time lawyer judge permit their law partner to prosecute traffic and code violations in a village court located within the town where the judge serves as town justice?

Opinion 10-105 May a part-time justice also serve as a full or part-time county attorney or assistant county attorney?

Opinion 10-106 (1) Where it appears that an attorney has failed to comply with the attorney registration requirements Judiciary Law §468-a requires, a judge should afford the attorney an opportunity to demonstrate that he/she filed the mandatory registration statement and/or paid the prescribed fee to avoid an unnecessary report to the disciplinary committee. If the attorney is not in compliance with Judiciary Law §468-a, the judge must report the attorney to the appropriate Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for disciplinary action. (2) Where it appears that a nonresident attorney does not maintain a physical law office or an actual mailing address in New York State as Judiciary Law §470 requires, a judge should afford the attorney an opportunity to demonstrate otherwise. If the attorney does not produce satisfactory evidence of compliance, and the judge concludes that the attorney has thereby committed a substantial violation of the Professional Conduct Rules, the judge should take appropriate action.

Opinion 10-107/10-158 (1) Provided a judge’s former law clerk is otherwise qualified, a judge may appoint his/her former law clerk to Part 36 positions, except where the case was pending before the judge during the law clerk’s term of employment. However, if a former law clerk the judge so appointed to a Part 36 position appears before his/her former judge in an adversarial role within one year after his/her employment with the judge ended, the judge must disclose that employment relationship, but has the discretion to grant or deny any subsequent request for recusal based on all the facts of the relationship and the particular case. (2) Assuming the law clerk is otherwise qualified, a judge may appoint his/her former law clerk as a referee to hear and report findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Surrogates Court Procedure Act §506 and as a referee to supervise disclosure pursuant to Civil Practice Law and Rules §3104(a) anytime after the law clerk retires, but need not disclose their former employment relationship.

Opinion 10-108 The names of judges who are members of a bar association’s board of directors may be preceded by the title “Honorable” on the bar association’s letterhead even though the designation “Esq.” is not included after the names of lawyers who also are members of the same board of directors.

(Inquiry 10-109 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 10-110 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-111 In a matter where a state trooper is serving as prosecutor, is it ethically permissible for the court to send a trial schedule notice to the state trooper?

Opinion 10-112 (1) A problem solving court judge who does not initially refer defendants to a service provider that works with defendants who appear in the judge’s court, must disqualify him/herself from a proceeding involving a service provider that employs the judge’s spouse as an administrator when that service provider will appear or is otherwise involved in a proceeding involving a defendant’s failure to comply with the prescribed treatment program and must transfer the case to another judge. (2) A judge who has a remainder interest in a family trust that rents office space to the parent organization of a service provider that provides services to defendants who appear in the judge’s court must disqualify him/herself from all matters involving that service provider, subject to remittal.

Opinion 10-113 A judge who presides in traffic court should not designate the traffic court clerk to advise defendants of any plea agreement the prosecuting assistant district attorney will offer.

Opinion 10-114 The application of a United States Supreme Court decision to a judge’s plea allocution practices involves a question of law which is beyond the Committee’s statutory authority.

Opinion 10-115 (1) A judge may serve as a consultant to a professor who will conduct a scholarly research project concerning jurors’ memories during jury deliberations and the implications of jurors’ memories for a judge’s jury instructions (a) if the judge’s participation will not cause his/her impartiality to reasonably be questioned and is not incompatible with judicial office; (b) if the judge does not comment on pending or impending cases; and (c) if, to avoid any perception the judge is using the prestige of judicial office to advance the professor’s private interest, the judge requires the professor to include a disclaimer in any published material, stating that all opinions and proposals expressed are solely those of the professor, not the judge. (2) The judge may permit the professor to include the judge’s name and curriculum vitae in an application for a grant to fund the research project, as long as doing so does not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the professor’s private interests.

Opinion 10-116 A town judge may permit the town court clerk to serve as a town election inspector/poll manager, even if the judge’s name appears on the ballot, but should instruct the town court clerk that he/she may not engage in any political activities in court facilities or on court time and that the court clerk must make clear that his/her political activities have nothing to do with the judge or the court.

Opinion 10-117 A judge may not sign a roster of attorneys supporting a particular candidate for judicial office and may not express an opinion to “members of the bar” or “members of the public” about the qualifications of a judicial candidate.

Opinion 10-118 A judge may convey to an attorney for a child in a custody case objective factual information about the judge’s experience with the child’s parent that is relevant to the custody matter, but must avoid any appearance he/she is advocating for any party in the case.

Opinion 10-119 May a judge serve as a board member of a non-profit community action agency, which provides a variety of assistance programs to low income individuals and families?

Opinion 10-120 A town justice may furnish advance copies of the court’s criminal calendar to both the District Attorney and the assigned Public Defender on a monthly basis if he/she also complies with reasonable requests by other attorneys, defendants and members of the public for copies of the calendar.

Opinion 10-121 A judge who is a candidate for judicial office should disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, from presiding in a case when an attorney who is a member of a political party’s candidate screening panel subcommittee that reviewed the judge’s application for the political party’s endorsement also is a partner in the plaintiff/law firm in the case.

Opinion 10-122 A judge must determine whether he/she has information indicating a substantial likelihood that an attorney has committed a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and, if so, must take appropriate action. Should the judge report the attorney, the judge is disqualified from presiding in matters in which the attorney appears during the pendency of the disciplinary proceeding and for two years after it finally concludes, and remittal is unavailable.

Opinion 10-123 A village justice need not disqualify him/herself when a law firm that employs the village justice court clerk’s non-lawyer child as a paralegal appears in the judge’s court, but the judge should insulate the court clerk from any matter in which the firm is involved.

Opinion 10-124 (1) Absent special circumstances that would create an appearance of impropriety, a part-time village justice may, to the extent it is legally permissible to do so, mandate that youthful offenders of Vehicle and Traffic laws attend a specific defensive driving program which is co-sponsored by a not-for-profit entity and a governmental agency and is specifically geared to offenders in that age group. (2) A judge whose spouse is an instructor for a defensive driving program may not refer defendants to the program unless the judge’s spouse will not be the instructor for any defendants the judge refers to the program but must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, in any case where the judge’s spouse testifies as a witness concerning a defendant’s participation in a defensive driving program that employs the judge’s spouse.

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(Inquiry 10-125 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-126 When a judge is temporarily assigned to serve in a City Court pursuant to Section 107 of the Uniform City Court Act, the judge’s partners and associates may continue to appear before all other judges of the City Court, unless there is a reason other than their colleague’s temporary assignment to the City Court which would preclude them from doing so.

Opinion 10-127 A part-time judge may accept employment as a process server, but may provide such services only in matters that will not be heard in his/her court, either before the inquiring judge or his/her co-judge.

Opinion 10-128 A judge may not display on his/her vehicle a slogan which has been adopted by a partisan political party and is used by that party to signal discontent with certain political trends deplored by the party’s adherents.

(Inquiry 10-129 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-130 A full-time judge may serve on the Board of Directors of a not-for-profit organization involved in the promotion of safety standards and administrative reform in the sport of boxing, but may not meet with members of the State Legislature to promote the organization’s legislative agenda.

Opinion 10-131 May a judge answer questions on a survey and participate in a follow-up interview on the topic of “Justices’ Perspectives on the Changes in Their Courts”?

Opinion 10-132 A judge may donate a photograph he/she created, to a not-for-profit organization for use as a prize in the organization’s fund-raising auction, but should not permit the organization to identify the judge as the donor or photographer.

Opinion 10-133 A judge may not serve on a panel that will discuss the principles of legislative redistricting and the governing law as the subjects are inherently political and highly controversial.

Opinion 10-134 May a judge accept a Lifetime Achievement Award from their high school at its alumni dinner?

Opinion 10-135 If a judge believes that he/she can be impartial, the judge need not disqualify him/herself where (1) an attorney appearing in the judge’s court formerly was the judge’s co-judge in a different court; (2) an attorney appearing in the judge’s court was the town attorney at the same time the judge was town justice for the same town; (3) the judge learns the identity of campaign donors from a plaintiff’s motion papers.

(Inquiry 10-136 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-137 A judge may not accept a leadership position that would make the judge responsible for increasing the membership of a not-for-profit civic or fraternal organization such as the Boy Scouts of America.

Opinion 10-138 May a judge maintain an internet blog?

Opinion 10-139 May a full-time judge continue to receive money from the sheriff’s office regarding wage garnishments for certain former clients?

Opinion 10-140 May a judge run for the position of Fire Auxiliary President, where the election is limited to members of the Auxiliary and not the public at large?

Opinion 10-141 May a judge contribute a recipe to be published in a cookbook that will be used by a counseling center as a fund-raiser?

Opinion 10-142 (1) A judge is not required to investigate whether an attorney has engaged in misconduct. (2) The propriety of a prosecutor’s exercise of discretion in deciding whether and how to prosecute offenses raises legal issues beyond the Committee’s jurisdiction. (3) A judge who receives information indicating a substantial likelihood that a lawyer has committed a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct shall take appropriate action.

Opinion 10-143 Where a part-time lawyer judge is a minority owner of their law firm, what is the judge's obligation if the majority partners of the firm wish to display a political sign supporting a candidate running for election to public office?

Opinion 10-144 May a judge be a member of the board of directors of a non-profit organization that provides social services and resources addressing issues related to aging in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community?

Opinion 10-145 Where a judge is the president of a judicial association, and a partner at a large private law firm provides pro bono "of counsel" services to the association, what are the judge's obligations if that partner, or other attorneys from the law firm, appear before the judge during the judge's term as president?

Opinion 10-146 A Town Justice must disqualify him/herself when his/her siblings appear in the judge’s court and, because one sibling is the Town Supervisor, also must disqualify him/herself in any case in which the Town is a party.

Opinion 10-147 May a judge lobby for or against a pending bill which, if passed, would extend the rights of defendants before the Justice Courts?

Opinion 10-148 A judge who is a member or officer of a house of worship may not personally solicit contributions from the congregation by preaching a sermon on tithing.

Opinion 10-149 A part-time judge who practices law may apply for certificates of occupancy and building permits on behalf of clients in the village where the judge presides where such application is ministerial in nature and does not involve an exercise of discretion by the building inspector.

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Opinion 10-150 A judge who believes that he/she can be fair and impartial may preside when the court clerk testifies pursuant to subpoena about the defendant providing proof of compliance with a condition of the defendant’s sentence.

Opinion 10-151 A judge is not disqualified in a tax certiorari case merely because he/she resides in the town or school district where the tax refund is sought.

Opinion 10-152 May a town justice participate in runs/walks where the justice must raise funds to participate? May the judge donate to a participant?

Opinion 10-153 A judge may write a column for a bar association’s newsletter on evidentiary issues connected with the county’s “red light” automatic camera program, but under the circumstances presented, the judge is limited to an objective description of motions and decisions in previously decided cases.

Opinion 10-154 A village justice may permit the village court clerk to also serve as a clerk for the same village where the judge presides, but may not permit the village court clerk to also serve as receptionist/clerk for the village police department that serves the same village where the judge presides. Unless otherwise prohibited by law, the village justice may have the Village Clerk assist the village court clerk in verifying court bank deposits.

Opinion 10-155 A judge must determine whether his/her relationship with a former colleague of the same court who appears as a private practitioner in the judge’s court requires his/her disqualification.

Opinion 10-156 A Support Magistrate may speak as a private citizen at public hearings and may write to elected officials about natural gas drilling in the county where the Support Magistrate owns property, but may not use official stationery or refer to his/her quasi-judicial office.

Opinion 10-157 May a judge, as a member of a not-for-profit civic organization: (1) distribute flyers at the local grocery store asking customers to donate food items, (2) collect donations of either food or cash, (3) assist the organization by packing food donations and loading them into a truck for storage prior to distribution to needy families, (4) deliver food baskets to needy families using a personal vehicle that bears judicial license plates, or (5) participate in the organization’s lunch for needy families by serving food to guests, when the local media will cover the event and publish pictures of the participants?

(Inquiry 10-158 is part of Opinion 10-107/10-158, above.)

Opinion 10-159 May a judge volunteer to serve dinners at a not-for-profit organization's free annual dinner honoring all local senior citizens, where the organization specifically recruits public officials as volunteer servers?

Opinion 10-160 A part-time town justice who recently provided funeral services to an attorney should fully disclose that he/she did so whenever the attorney appears in the judge’s court for two years after the funeral bill is paid. If all parties are represented by counsel, and after affording the parties and their attorneys the opportunity to be heard, the judge must exercise his/her discretion in deciding whether to disqualify him/herself. If any party in the matter is self-represented, the judge must disqualify him/herself during this two-year period. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 10-161 May a judge appear in a training video that will be used by a social services agency to provide information to families about various programs provided by that agency and certain matters which are heard in the judge's court?

Opinion 10-162 A part-time judge who rents office space to an attorney is disqualified when that attorney appears before the landlord/judge.

Opinion 10-163 A part-time judge who owns a small consulting company may provide consulting services to village officials in a neighboring county concerning establishing a village court.

Opinion 10-164 A judge may nominate a probation department employee for an award that acknowledges those employees who significantly assist the court in the administration of justice.

Opinion 10-165 May a town justice use the services of the current secretary to the town’s planning board as a part-time court clerk for 7 hours per week?

Opinion 10-166 May a judge, with the assistance of the Center for Court Innovation, organize and co-sponsor with an Appellate Division Office of Attorneys for Children, a Continuing Legal Education program addressing various issues relating to family violence for lawyers and members of the courthouse staff?

(Inquiry 10-167 is part of Opinion 10-73/10-100/10-167, above.)

Opinion 10-168 A judge whose spouse has retained counsel and is considering making a claim against a municipality for personal injuries the judge witnessed (1) must disqualify him/herself from matters wherein the spouse's attorney appears until the judge’s spouse terminates the attorney-client relationship; and (2) need not exercise disqualification from matters in which the municipality is a party unless and until his/her spouse files the notice of claim, but must then exercise disqualification from such matters from the date of filing until the judge's spouse's matter against the municipality is concluded. Remittal is available as set forth in this opinion.

Opinion 10-169 May a judge complete certain necessary tasks to terminate two conservatorships that the judge held before taking the bench?

Opinion 10-170/11-03 Whether a judge may permit a lay complainant to prosecute an alleged criminal violation is a question of law which is beyond this Committee’s jurisdiction. If a judge determines that the district attorney’s implicit or explicit delegation of authority to prosecute a particular matter is not lawful, then the judge should decline to preside over such matters. But, if a judge determines that such delegation is lawful, then the judge may preside in such matters, although the judge must remain fair and impartial and may not provide either side with guidance on procedural or substantive issues.

Opinion 10-171 May a judge participate in a panel discussion about the findings and proposed Justice Court reforms detailed in a study by the Research Center?

Opinion 10-172 May a judge maintain a personal judicial website?

Opinion 10-173 A part-time town justice who is permitted to practice law may represent a county in an action regarding conditions at the county’s detention facilities when the town justice presides in a town located in the same county.

Opinion 10-174 A judge may serve on a non-partisan committee that provides a reception to welcome and recognize United States military personnel returning from service in combat zones.

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Opinion 10-175 A judge who receives a letter from another judge in support of an application that is pending in the receiving judge’s court, under circumstances that indicate to the receiving judge that the letter was not solicited by an appropriate agency, must report the letter writer to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

(Inquiry 10-176 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-177 (1) A court should not direct defense attorneys who wish to negotiate a plea agreement to contact the prosecutor at the court’s address. (2) A court should not send a copy of a prosecutor’s proposed plea agreement to a defendant’s attorney and ask him/her to either sign and return it to the court if the proffered plea is acceptable or else notify the court that the plea is not acceptable so that the court clerk can schedule a trial date.

Opinion 10-178 May a judge participate in a panel discussion about a court consolidation report paid for by the county?

(Inquiry 10-179 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-180 Where a judge’s law clerk serves on an advisory board for a doctor’s independent medical research and the doctor previously treated the law clerk’s child for a serious medical condition, the judge may preside in medical malpractice cases involving the hospital subject to the following limitations: (1) If the doctor is not involved in the matter, the judge need not disclose the law clerk’s relationship with the doctor or insulate the law clerk. (2) If the doctor is involved in the matter as a hospital employee, the judge must fully disclose the nature of the law clerk’s relationship to the doctor, insulate the law clerk and may preside if he/she can be fair and impartial. (3) If the doctor is involved in a matter as an independent researcher, the judge must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, and insulate the law clerk. (4) If the law clerk is likely to be a material witness in a matter concerning the doctor’s independent research, the judge must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal and insulate the law clerk if his/her disqualification is remitted.

Opinion 10-181 A judge who learns that another judge arraigned a defendant on a charge of driving while intoxicated and set bail, appeared at the jail shortly thereafter, posted the bail using a check drawn on the judge’s spouse’s bank account and, after signing his/her spouse’s name on the bail documents to secure the defendant’s release, drove the defendant home should report the matter to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 10-182 May a judicial hearing officer be honored by a not-for-profit religious organization at the organization’s fund-raising dinner and permit their name to be used in mailings the organization distributes to promote the event?

Opinion 10-183 May a part-time judge complete their responsibilities as a referee in a foreclosure pursuant to an appointment made before the judge assumed the bench?

Opinion 10-184 Where a judge's niece is married to a deputy sheriff and the judge was previously a part-time employee of the same sheriff's department for the last five years, may the judge preside in cases involving the sheriff's department?

Opinion 10-185 Whether a part-time judge may take an extended vacation is an administrative question to be determined by the appropriate administrative judge.

(Inquiry 10-186 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-187 A full-time judge may serve as consultant to a non-profit organization, specializing in educating people with addiction issues, for the sole purpose of reviewing and making recommendations about the organization’s programs and policies, as long as no defendants before the judge are enrolled in the program, none of the work would be done on court time or in the courthouse, and the judge does not give legal advice to the organization. The judge may accept a reasonable stipend for this work.

Opinion 10-188 A judge may not provide a character reference letter to the District Attorney at the request of a relative of the defendant, even if the judge would write solely in a non-judicial capacity, without revealing his/her judicial status. The judge may provide such a letter to the District Attorney only in response to the District Attorney’s direct request.

Opinion 10-189 As the professor of a law school class, may a judge discuss judicial decisions that are relevant to the class topic?

Opinion 10-190 A town justice-elect who serves on the board of the town where he/she will preside and who voted on legislation amending and promulgating town laws and ordinances and on the initial appointment and subsequent annual reappointments of the town attorney is not required to disqualify him/herself when the town attorney appears or when such town laws and ordinances are the subject of cases before him/her.

Opinion 10-191 A Judicial Hearing Officer may also serve as a Notary Public.

Opinion 10-192 (1) A judge whose caseload consists mostly of matters in no-fault insurance cases involving small monetary values need not disqualify him/herself from cases in which a law firm that employs his/her child and serves exclusively as in-house counsel for an insurance company appears, as long as the judge’s child had no direct or indirect involvement in the particular case, but must disclose his/her child’s employment and thereafter has the discretion to grant or deny a party’s request for his/her recusal. (2) Given the facts presented, a judge, whose caseload consists mostly of matters in no-fault insurance cases involving small monetary values is not required to disqualify him/herself from such cases when a law firm that also serves exclusively as in-house counsel for the same insurance company, but does not employ the judge’s child, appears.

Opinion 10-193 (1) A full-time judge may not take an active role in the management or operation of any real property that he/she co-owns as a tenant-in-common with a person who is not a member of his/her family and may not appear in court on matters relating to such property to the extent that he/she would be representing not only his/her own interest, but also that of his/her tenant-in-common. (2) A full-time judge may manage real estate as the sole member of the limited liability corporation that owns the property. To the extent legally permitted, the judge may appear pro se on behalf of the limited liability corporation unless the corporation is required by law to appear by or through counsel.

Opinion 10-194 A judge who is treasurer of a magistrates association may notify its members that they must pay their dues or the admission price for an association function, and may direct that such payments be sent to the judge’s attention.

Opinion 10-195 May a judge attend a holiday celebration hosted by the prosecutor’s office where the judge worked just prior to assuming the bench?

Opinion 10-196 A judge may ask a criminal defendant any questions that the judge has determined are legally permissible or legally required, including questions about a defendant’s immigration status, but the judge should not accede to the district attorney’s request that the judge conduct plea allocutions in a particular manner and should not distribute notices furnished by the prosecutor to criminal defendants.

Opinion 10-197 (1) A part-time lawyer town/village judge may accompany his/her friend to court appearances relating to the friend’s divorce, but should not draw attention to his/her presence or judicial status. (2) A judge may speak or write as a private citizen about natural gas drilling to the extent that it affects him/her personally, but should not use official stationery or refer to his/her judicial status. (3) Subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, a part-time lawyer judge may practice law, including addressing issues involving natural gas drilling and hydrofracking.

(Inquiry 10-198 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-199 May a judge accept an invitation to [receive an unnanounced, ancillary award] at a golf outing and gala for a major celebration of the judge's parish?

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Opinion 10-200/11-74 A part-time town justice may not serve simultaneously as County Manager and Budget Officer for the county in which the judge presides, where the position oversees the budgets of all county departments, including the local district attorney and public defender whose attorneys will appear before the judge. Even if it is technically feasible for the County Manager and Budget Officer to insulate him/herself from those portions of the county’s integrated budget, such insulation would not be sufficient to overcome the appearance of impropriety and incompatibility.

Opinion 10-201 (1) Where a judge’s court attorney left his/her former law firm two years ago, but is currently a client of the firm with respect to a personal legal matter, the judge should insulate the court attorney from all matters involving the firm while the firm represents the court attorney and for two years after the representation ends. (2) Where a court attorney has invited several former law firm colleagues to his/her upcoming wedding, a judge should, for a reasonable time after the wedding occurs, insulate the court attorney from all matters in which the court attorney’s wedding guests appear. (3) To the extent that a court attorney is close friends with several former law firm colleagues, the judge should insulate the court attorney from all matters in which the court attorney’s close friends appear. (4) Under the circumstances presented, the judge should disclose the court attorney’s insulation from all cases involving his/her former law firm, but may preside in a case, even if a party objects, if he/she can be fair and impartial. (5) The question of whether a court attorney may pay a “much reduced rate” for private legal services received during his/her employment with the courts raises questions of non-judicial ethics that are beyond this Committee’s jurisdiction. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 13-26, which states "the insulation need only continue until the matter is concluded and the law clerk has paid all fees due and owing."

(Inquiry 10-202 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 10-203(A) did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-203(B) (1) A judge may continue to serve as trustee of a trust that benefits the judge’s first cousin; (2) A judge may be a member with his/her siblings of an LLC that will own several pieces of real estate; (3) A judge must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, when an attorney from the judge’s former law firm appears in the judge’s court for two years after the judge’s employment with his/her former law firm ends or until the landlord/tenant relationship between the judge and his/her former law firm ends, whichever occurs later.

Opinion 10-204 Must a judge report an attorney who admitted anonymously preparing papers on behalf of an unrepresented litigant (also known as "ghostwriting") in opposition to an application pending before the judge?

Opinion 10-205 May a judge participate in a bar association's fund-raiser by donating an auction prize that would involve an opportunity for the winner to engage in a specified activity with a sitting judge (such as playing golf, attending sporting events, or having dinner together)?

Opinion 10-206 A judge may be interviewed for a documentary film produced by a not-for-profit organization about a well-known former prosecutor who is a former colleague of the judge, provided that the judge does not discuss any matter that is pending or impending in any court in the United States or its territories, and further provided that the judge’s comments do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially.

Opinion 10-207 May a judge run for commissioner of a local fire district?

(Inquiry 10-208 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 10-209 A judge need not disqualify him/herself when an attorney appearing before the judge previously represented a plaintiff in an action against the judge in the judge's individual capacity, as long as the judge believes he/she can be impartial. [Note: Matter had settled 10 years earlier.]

 

Numerical Listing of 2011 Opinions

[Jump to 20092010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018201920202021, 2022]

(Inquiry 11-01 is part of Opinion 10-101/11-01, above.)

Opinion 11-02 May a town justice preside in a criminal case involving the relative of a town official, where the official has no involvement in determining the judge’s salary or the court’s budget?

(Inquiry 11-03 is part of Opinion 10-170/11-03, above.)

Opinion 11-04 May a judge may advise advise their undergraduate and law school classmates that a novel the judge wrote was recently published? If so, may the judge use judicial stationery for this purpose? May the judge participate in a local bar association’s “author’s night/book signing”?

Opinion 11-05 Where lawsuits are reasonably anticipated relating to conditions in the local jails, and jail conditions have been a matter of substantial local controversy, a judge may not serve as a member of a legislatively-created Corrections Advisory Board that is tasked with providing suggestions to the legislative and executive branches for improving the local jails and forwarding complaints about jail conditions to the sheriff’s office for investigation.

(Inquiry 11-06 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-07 May a judge execute a final accounting affidavit relating to work which the judge performed as a receiver prior to taking judicial office and seek a statutory commission for those services?

Opinion 11-08 On these facts, must a judge report their co-judge for conduct the judge believes to be ethics violations and abuses of power?

Opinion 11-09/11-12 (1) A judge may conduct after-hours arraignments in a public area of a police facility if there are valid security reasons to do so and if holding such proceedings at the police facility rather than the local court facility is not in violation of law. (2) A judge may conduct after-hours arraignments in other areas that are open to the public, such as outdoors, only if such locations are legally permitted and administratively approved and if it is likely that the judge will be able to maintain order and decorum. (3) Other questions relating to where a judge may conduct after-hours arraignments are primarily legal and administrative in nature.

Opinion 11-10 A judge who is the victim of a crime in his/her judicial capacity may respond to inquiries from the media about how the crime has affected him/her, both personally and officially, while the individual who committed that crime is awaiting sentencing in federal court, but may not comment about the prosecution of the case or the sentencing while the case is pending, including any comment indicating or speculating as to how he/she might have conducted the case or what sentence he/she would impose.

Opinion 11-11 A part-time non-lawyer judge may accept employment with a private security firm to work as a “security guard” at a warehouse located within the geographic jurisdiction of the judge’s court where the position would not confer peace officer status and the judge would have no authority to make arrests, provided that the judge disqualifies him/herself from any proceeding that involves the security firm or the warehouse and further provided that the position does not interfere with the proper performance of the judge’s judicial duties.

(Inquiry 11-12 is part of Opinion 11-09/11-12, above.)

Opinion 11-13 May a town or village justice preside in matters where the town or village attorney, who serves as special prosecutor for traffic matters before the judge, appears on behalf of private clients?

(Inquiry 11-14 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-15 A JHO may serve as hearing officer for a municipality’s disciplinary hearing involving a police officer if the JHO is not on the JHO panel for the municipality’s court and does not preside in criminal or other police related matters.

Opinion 11-16 A judge may not, at the request of a court employee, provide a letter for use in the employee’s disciplinary proceeding before the Office of Court Administration, but may authorize the employee to provide the judge’s name as a reference. Based on his/her personal knowledge and observations of the employee, the judge may then respond to a request from the Office of Court Administration for information about the employee.

Opinion 11-17 A full-time judge, who is also an adjunct professor at a community college and member of the adjunct faculty association, may fully engage in all legal activities of the faculty association. The judge should not participate in a strike which violates the Taylor Law.

Opinion 11-18/11-42 A full-time judge may apply for a position as a School Superintendent, School District Administrator, or as a private arbitrator even though the judge must resign or retire from judicial office if and when he/she is ultimately hired for the position.

Opinion 11-19 While Rule 100.4(D)(3) is temporarily suspended, may a full-time judge collect money for their spouse at craft shows?

Opinion 11-20 A judge who has a close personal relationship with an attorney, must disclose the relationship’s nature and extent if the attorney appears before him/her and should exercise discretion in determining whether to disqualify him/herself after considering all relevant factors. If the judge decides to preside, he/she should put his/her reasons on the record.

Opinion 11-21 Under the circumstances presented, a recently-elected judge may accept a discretionary bonus paid by his/her law firm based on work actually performed by the judge before he/she assumed judicial office.

Opinion 11-22 A judge who was previously elected to a board of commissioners for a fire district in a public election may not run for re-election to this non-judicial office and may not serve out the remaining years of his/her term where the fire commissioners’ primary function is to submit the fire company’s budget for public hearing, modification and approval.

Opinion 11-23 A judge need not disclose that he/she referred a client to an attorney who is currently appearing before the judge on other matters. [Note: This involves the referral of a friend, with no financial or other benefit to the referring judge.]

Opinion 11-24 Under the circumstances presented, a judge may accept a gift of the admission fee for a road race from his/her sibling’s spouse.

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Opinion 11-25 A town justice should not hire as the court’s part-time clerk an individual who would be concurrently employed as Principal Clerk of Patrol Operations for the county sheriff’s department, where the sheriff’s clerk performs more than routine clerical duties and has frequent contact with local justice courts.

Opinion 11-26 A judge is not required to disqualify him/herself from a matter involving the constitutionality of a municipal ordinance solely because the same ordinance was in effect during the judge’s former employment as the municipality’s counsel.

(Inquiry 11-27 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-28 May a judge apply to a local charitable foundation for a grant or accept the offer of a local attorney to “explore steps to raise ... money” for the purpose of preserving and displaying historical photographs in the courthouse?

Opinion 11-29 May a judge participate as co-chair of a bar association’s subcommittee formed to address the issue of Brady disclosure and other related Brady issues?

(Inquiry 11-30 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-31 A full-time judge may continue to receive renewal commissions for insurance policies he/she sold before taking office and may retain and renew his/her existing insurance agent and insurance broker licenses only if they are legally required for this purpose.

Opinion 11-32 May a judge serve as president or, alternatively, administrative co-chair, of a bar association’s foundation, where the foundation’s purpose is to award scholarships to female law students in order to advance the status of women in the legal profession?

Opinion 11-33 A judge may not disclose facts about a case pending before him/her to a legislator in the belief that the legislator would investigate possible wrong-doing by a child welfare agency but may discuss his/her concerns with his/her administrative judge.

Opinion 11-34 A Court of Claims judge whose close relative was injured in a collision with an official vehicle driven by a New York State Trooper must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, from other cases involving claims that a State Trooper drove his/her official vehicle in a negligent manner, beginning when the judge’s relative files a notice of claim and continuing for the duration of the judge’s close relative’s claim against the State of New York.

Opinion 11-35 A judge whose name was listed as an honoree on invitations to an organization’s fund-raising event, contrary to prior assurances from the organization that the event was not a fund-raiser, should object in writing to the organization and insist that the organization send a retraction. Under the circumstances presented, because the invitations also request significant additional donations beyond the cost of the event to be made specifically in “honor” of the individuals named as honorees, the judge also should not attend the event.

Opinion 11-36 A judge who is responsible for organizing an educational program sponsored by the Office of Court Administration may permit an outside lecturer to provide complimentary copies of the lecturer’s book as course materials for the judges who attend the program.

Opinion 11-37 A judge who accepts a previously unannounced award at a charitable fund-raiser may thereafter also be included in a photograph of award recipients at the event and need not object to publication of the photograph in a local newspaper.

Opinion 11-38 Does Opinion 00-117 remain effective for the duration of the suspension of the Office of Court Administration’s JHO program? [Note: Please review Opinion 18-09 and contact the Advisory Committee for further guidance before relying on this opinion.]

Opinion 11-39 May a judge be honored as outgoing president of their religious organization at a dinner dance and in a commemorative journal?

Opinion 11-40 May a judge complete and return questionnaires received from Martindale-Hubbell asking the judge’s confidential opinion on the capabilities and ethics of local counsel?

Opinion 11-41 A court attorney-referee (1) may not serve on a Town Zoning Board of Appeals, (2) may serve on a county legislature’s citizen’s advisory committee on domestic violence, and (3) may participate in a group that is working with a local mediation center and service providers to informally explore possible methods for parties in highly contentious custody cases to help resolve their disputes without repeated court intervention.

(Inquiry 11-42 is part of Opinion 11-18/11-42, above.)

Opinion 11-43 A Surrogate whose spouse is a partner in a law firm that frequently appears in the Surrogate’s Court (1) must disqualify him/herself from presiding when a partner or associate of the spouse’s law firm appears except in very limited circumstances and (2) may not appoint his/her spouse’s partners or associates to serve as fiduciaries except in very limited circumstances.

Opinion 11-44 A judge may not be a member of the “founding group” or the board of directors of a charter school. 

Opinion 11-45 A judge must disqualify him/herself when his/her former law partner appears in the judge’s court where the judge and his/her former law partner terminated their prior professional relationship within the past three years and their families maintain a close ongoing social relationship. The judge’s disqualification is subject to remittal, unless a party is self-represented. [NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.]

(Inquiry 11-46 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-47 The choice of surname(s) by a judge and his/her spouse is primarily a personal or legal matter which is not governed by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct even if the judge’s spouse is a law enforcement officer. Additionally, so long as a judge does not preside over any matters involving his/her law enforcement officer/spouse or officers under the spouse’s supervision, the judge need not disclose the relationship or disqualify him/herself in criminal matters.

Opinion 11-48 A support magistrate who receives information indicating a substantial likelihood that an attorney has failed to pay court-ordered child support must determine whether the attorney’s conduct, under the specific circumstances known to the support magistrate, constitutes a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and, if so, must then take appropriate action.

Opinion 11-49 A judge need not disqualify him/herself solely because an individual appearing in the judge’s court is the sibling of the judge’s son-in-law/daughter-in-law, as long as the judge can be impartial and there is no other factor concerning such individual that would cause the judge’s impartiality to reasonably be questioned.

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Opinion 11-50 A court attorney-referee may not belong to local community boards as they focus on fact or policy matters other than those involving the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.

Opinion 11-51 May a judge serve on the Board of Directors of a homeowners’ association and civic association?

Opinion 11-52 Where a part-time attorney judge has exchanged referrals of two cases with an attorney who otherwise maintains their own independent legal practice, may the judge preside in cases involving that attorney? Is the attorney considered an “associate” of the judge for purposes of Section 100.6(B)(3)?

Opinion 11-53 May a town justice hire a town police officer as a driver/chauffeur?

Opinion 11-54 May a judge provide an accountant-friend, who has authored a book about auditing for fraud, with a quote for inclusion on the inside leaf of the book?

Opinion 11-55 A full-time judge may provide informal, uncompensated legal advice and assistance to his/her spouse in the selection of, and consultation with, counsel to represent the spouse in a proposed class action or other proceeding against the spouse's employer.

Opinion 11-56 May a judge moderate a panel discussion at their religious institution involving the basics of court operations, where the speakers would be lawyers who are members of the congregation?

Opinion 11-57 A judge who presides in county court and whose spouse is a special prosecutor in a town court, subject to the district attorney’s supervision, is not disqualified from matters involving the district attorney’s office or matters originating in the town court, as long as the judge’s spouse has not participated in the matter.

(Inquiry 11-58 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-59 A part-time judge may not simultaneously be the office manager for the county probation department that serves the same county where the judge’s court is located.

(Inquiry 11-60 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 11-61 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-62 Under the circumstances presented, a part-time judge may permit a newly hired court clerk to continue to work as an attorney in the judge’s private law office, performing organizational tasks, as long as such outside employment is legally permitted.

Opinion 11-63 May a judge be honored at their high school’s annual fund-raising dinner?

Opinion 11-64 A judge who recently appeared before a judicial screening panel may preside in a matter in which a member of the panel appears as an attorney, in the absence of any other disqualifying factor and assuming the judge can be impartial.

Opinion 11-65 To avoid any appearance of undue pressure, a town justice should not ask individual court officers of the town court to publicly support his/her re-election.

Opinion 11-66 May a judge participate in an annual outing sponsored by a school in the judge’s relative’s honor?

Opinion 11-67 May a judge attend the City of [ ] Police Benevolent Association annual awards dinner and tribute to fallen officers?

Opinion 11-68 (1) An acting village justice may continue to serve as a member of the architectural review board of the town in which the village is located. (2) An acting village justice who is a member of a town architectural review board must disqualify him/herself from any matters involving the review board, including zoning matters related to the review board’s recommendations, when the judge is assigned to sit temporarily in the town court.

(Inquiry 11-69 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-70 A part-time town judge may serve as curator of the town museum, as long as the position does not conflict or interfere with the proper performance of the judge’s duties, the judge does not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities, and the judge does not use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising or membership solicitation.

(Inquiry 11-71 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-72(A) May a judge preside over matters involving a law firm with which the judge previously shared office space and which also currently provides personal legal services to the judge’s law clerk?

Opinion 11-73 A part-time judge who practices law and previously presided over criminal charges against certain individuals arising from a particular incident, is prohibited from representing a different individual in a civil matter arising from the same incident.

(Inquiry 11-74 is part of Opinion 10-200/11-74, above.)

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Opinion 11-75 A judge who coordinates a Unified Court System internship program may not allow the District Attorney’s student interns to participate in the Unified Court System’s program without making a reasonable effort to also invite legal interns from institutional providers of defense services in the same community.

Opinion 11-76 May a judge preside in matters where the judge’s current election opponent appears as special traffic prosecutor?

Opinion 11-77 May judges comment on pending cases “while participating in educational programs meant to advance the profession’s understanding of the law”?

(Inquiry 11-78 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 11-79 did not result in a published decision.)

(Inquiry 11-80 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-81 May a judge receive an award at the annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner?

Opinion 11-82 May the justices of a town court present a letter to the town board to be read into the minutes which recognizes and thanks all the individuals responsible for the upgrade of the court facilities?

Opinion 11-83 May a judge give an ethics presentation at a prosecutors’ training session?

(Inquiry 11-84 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-85 A judge may not participate in a private meeting with the representatives of a local victims’ advocacy group, where the representatives’ stated goal is to educate the judge about the importance of the group and the group’s role in the community, and to establish a “mutually respectful relationship” between the organization and the court system.

Opinion 11-86 Must a judge exercise recusal in a court proceeding in which one of the parties made threatening statements toward the judge and their family? Does it make a difference that the judge submitted an affirmation to the District Attorney in support of a criminal contempt charge against the litigant?

Opinion 11-87 (1) Unless a judge is required by law to perform marriages, a judge may adopt a policy of performing marriages for friends and relatives only or may decline to perform all marriages. (2) Whether a judge may adopt a policy with respect to performing marriages that distinguishes between same-sex and opposite-sex couples raises primarily legal questions; however, if a judge acts in conformity with governing law the judge will not violate the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. [Note: Some previously unsettled legal issues relating to statutory and constitutional interpretation were resolved by the United States Supreme Court. See Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015).]

Opinion 11-88 Where a judge has decided, for personal reasons, to disqualify from all cases involving a particular attorney, who is “a principal partner” in a law firm, must the judge also disqualify when other partners or associates from the firm appear?

Opinion 11-89 A part-time judge who rents office space within the judge’s private law office suite to another attorney and shares a fax line and high-speed copier with the attorney, where there is no indication that they are in any way associated in the private practice of law, need not prohibit his/her tenant from using his/her fax line or from appearing before other judges of the inquiring judge’s court, but is disqualified, subject to remittal, when the tenant/attorney appears before the judge.

Opinion 11-90 May a judge permit their Principal Law Clerk to run for and serve as a Trustee for a village which is a part-time, paid elected position?

(Inquiry 11-91 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-92 (1) A part-time town judge may perform administrative duties normally assigned to a court clerk and may be separately compensated for performing those duties, to the extent it is legally permissible for the part-time town judge to do so, and subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. (2) Whether a part-time town judge [in a court with one judge and two court clerks] may also be appointed to serve as a co-court clerk is a question of law that is beyond the Committee’s jurisdiction. [Note: Footnote 2 states: “If there were two judges in the inquirer’s court, this Committee’s prior Opinions would unquestionably preclude him/her from serving as their court clerk.” See also e.g. Opinions 17-58; 16-53.]

Opinion 11-93 A judge may review a proposed bar examination question for the National Conference of Bar Examiners and accept an honorarium for performing such work

Opinion 11-94 After a judge’s child’s employment with a law firm as a summer student associate ends, the judge must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, when the law firm appears, if the judge’s child was involved in the case. In all other cases in which the law firm appears, the judge need not disqualify him/herself or disclose his/her child’s former association with the law firm as a summer student associate.

Opinion 11-95 For two years following resolution of criminal charges against a judge’s child, the judge must disclose the prior prosecution of his/her child when a prosecutor who was personally involved in the matter appears before the judge, but the judge may preside provided that all parties are represented by counsel and the judge can be fair and impartial. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule, and by Opinion 14-60 with respect to when the disqualification should end.

Opinion 11-96 May a judge discuss a criminal matter, which the judge prosecuted over ten years ago, with the current prosecutor assigned to the re-trial?

Opinion 11-97 A judge may provide a quote for use in the annual report of a not-for-profit organization which offers a program to which the judge makes referrals, where the quote highlights the need for such programs generally without naming or promoting the specific organization, provided the judge takes reasonable steps to ensure the judge’s judicial position is not exploited by others for fund-raising or promotional purposes.

(Inquiry 11-98 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-99 What are a judge’s obligations in matters involving attorneys from the respective law firms of the judge’s law clerk’s sibling and the law clerk’s sibling’s spouse?

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Opinion 11-100 A part-time judge may be employed full-time as a news reporter, subject to certain limitations. As for subject matter, a reporter/judge may not cover cases pending or impending in the United States or its territories nor cover politically sponsored events.

Opinion 11-101 May a judge attend the wedding of an assistant district attorney who appears before the judge occasionally?

Opinion 11-102 May a part-time town justice work during the winter months as a safety/security manager at a ski resort?

Opinion 11-103 A judge need not recuse at the request of an attorney whose adversary in an unrelated “very litigious case” is the judge’s attorney spouse, unless the judge cannot remain fair and impartial or has a personal bias against the attorney.

(Inquiry 11-104 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-105 At the Office of Court Administration’s request, an administrative judge may permit a for-profit video production company to film arraignment proceedings for a documentary, as long as the arraigning judge will merely perform his/her regular judicial duties while being filmed, without any further participation by him/her, and will not allow the filming process to interfere with the proper conduct of the proceedings.

Opinion 11-106 May a judge preside over certain Family Court cases if the judge’s child is appointed to the position of part-time county attorney?

Opinion 11-106(A) May a judge preside over certain cases if the judge’s child is appointed to the position of part-time county attorney, in the event that outside counsel is hired to represent the county’s legal interests?

Opinion 11-107 As long as a judge’s presence and role as presenter of an award are unadvertised prior to an event, the judge may introduce and present an award to an honoree at a not-for-profit organization’s fund-raising dinner and may also permit his/her name, title, and biography to be included in materials distributed at the event.

Opinion 11-108 A judge may not act as a lawyer in a divorce proceeding against a defendant whom the judge previously arraigned on certain alleged sexual crimes that are likely to be raised in the context of a divorce and may not share in any fee resulting from such representation. Under the circumstances presented, in order to prevent the appearance that the judge’s personal knowledge of the defendant resulting from presiding over the arraignment is being used to the advantage of the defendant’s spouse in the divorce proceeding, the judge also should not permit his/her firm to undertake the representation.

(Inquiry 11-109 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-110 A judge may sign a statement of support for a school district's campaign to promote good school attendance.

(Inquiry 11-111 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-112 May a judge acquiesce in the District Attorney’s proposed plea bargaining procedure, which provides that the defendant or defendant’s counsel should mail the completed plea agreement to the court to await signature by the assistant DA at his/her next court appearance?

Opinion 11-113 Must a judge disqualify from matters involving an attorney against whom the judge filed a disciplinary complaint?

(Inquiry 11-114 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-115 A judge may be profiled in a magazine targeting the legal community where the article will contain photos, a brief biography and the judge’s comments about his/her judicial duties, provided he/she abides by the generally applicable limits on judicial speech and does not permit the article to be used to market or promote the magazine’s sales.

Opinion 11-116 A judge who is aware of facts concerning an individual’s performance as a prosecutor may voluntarily disclose those facts to the legislative body which appoints the prosecutor if the judge concludes the prosecutor’s conduct constitutes a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or otherwise affects the administration of justice. The judge may not, however, volunteer a recommendation as to whom the legislative body should appoint or how it should exercise its appointment power.

Opinion 11-117 On these facts, may a full-time judge serve as co-trustee of a testamentary trust?

Opinion 11-118 A judge may host a community screening of a documentary about the effects of a long-term prison sentence on the relationship between incarcerated mothers and their children and may moderate a discussion of the film, provided the judge does not discuss pending or impending cases and avoids any appearance of partiality or predisposition to decide matters a certain way. He/she may not permit fund-raising at the event but a community group may sell refreshments, as long as the sale of refreshments is un-advertised and de minimis. This program should not be at the courthouse without administrative approval.

Opinion 11-119 A full-time judge who is a member of a homeowners’ association may not write an article for the association’s newsletter advising members of their legal obligation to obtain a specific type of insurance for their home pursuant to the offering plan and the association’s rules.

Opinion 11-120 A part-time judge who is permitted to practice law may appear before administrative agencies and boards, state and local legislators and staff, and executive branch officers and staff on behalf of bona fide legal clients, but may not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance his/her own private interests or those of his/her legal clients.

Opinion 11-121 May a judge moderate a debate of a local college debating team, wherein the proposed topics are matters of current local interest in the judge's town?

Opinion 11-122 A full-time judge may appoint court staffers or other qualified persons to a standing advisory committee for a Unified Court System’s Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Court Improvement Program mediation program.

(Inquiry 11-123 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-124 A judge may preside in a proceeding in which his/her administrative judge’s spouse appears as an attorney, in the absence of any other disqualifying factor and assuming he/she can be fair and impartial, even if a party or counsel objects. The judge is not required to disclose the attorney’s marital relationship but may do so if he/she wishes without incurring any obligation to disqualify him/herself.

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Opinion 11-125 Whether a judge must disclose the relationship or disqualify him/herself when the judge and an attorney appearing before the judge are acquaintances, friends, or otherwise interact socially depends on such factors as the nature of the relationship with the attorney, the inter-relationships among their respective immediate family members, the frequency and context of their contacts, and whether they or their respective family members share confidences.

(Inquiry 11-126 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-127 Absent any other disqualifying factor and assuming the judge can be fair and impartial, a full-time judge who last engaged in the private practice of law more than four years ago need not disclose his/her prior association with a law firm now appearing in the judge’s court. The judge may, in his/her discretion, make such disclosure, even if a party is unrepresented, without incurring any obligation to disqualify him/herself.

Opinion 11-128 Under the circumstances presented, a full-time judge may not teach a continuing legal education program for an organization that is sponsored by and closely affiliated with a law firm, where the judge would be compensated based on the number of attendees.

(Inquiry 11-129 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-130 A judge may not permit law students participating in a law school clinical program to sit at the bench while the judge arraigns criminal defendants as preparation for representing criminal defendants on behalf of the clinical program before the same judge.

Opinion 11-131 May a judge preside in criminal matters prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office, in light of the judge’s child’s recent employment as an assistant district attorney?

(Inquiry 11-132 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-133 May a judge attend a school orientation in order to explain to the students and their families the consequences of continued school absences?

Opinion 11-134 Under the circumstances presented, a judge may address a local school board’s suspension policy committee regarding court procedures and ways in which the court’s orders could intersect with a school’s suspension policy but may not give the committee legal advice nor accept an appointment as a committee member or advisor.

Opinion 11-135 A judge who served on an ad hoc committee that advised court administrators on the proposed wording of a form need not disqualify him/herself in a case where a litigant has challenged the court administrators’ authority to issue rules pertaining to use of the form.

Opinion 11-136 A judge who is a director of a not-for-profit organization may permit his/her name to be listed along with the other directors on the organization’s website, even if the border of each page of the website contains links that solicit donations.

Opinion 11-137 A judge may be an officer of a not-for-profit civic or fraternal organization, may appoint existing members of the organization to serve on fund-raising committees, and may keep track of memberships and dues collected by local branches of the organization, as long as the judge is not personally involved in the solicitation of funds and does not use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising or membership solicitation.

Opinion 11-138 A judge may participate in an interview with a graduate student in connection with the student’s dissertation research on a particular legal issue, and answer questions about the judge’s judicial experience with a form of court-ordered treatment, provided the judge does not comment on a pending or impending proceeding, does not disclose any non-public information acquired in a judicial capacity and does not express any predisposition to decide matters in a certain way.

Opinion 11-139 (1) Where a public defender’s office represents a judge’s child, the judge need not disclose the representation every time an assistant public defender appears before the judge once the assistant public defender advises the judge that he/she does not represent the judge’s child and is not otherwise involved in the judge’s child’s representation. (2) A judge should not intervene in a Public Defender’s staffing decisions.

Opinion 11-140 May a judge serve on a church committee which will address economic development and job creation on church supported projects?

Opinion 11-141 May a town justice also work for the Town Department of Public Works as a truck driver and laborer?

(Inquiry 11-142 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-143 A full-time judge may serve on the Bylaws Committee of a not-for-profit athletic club, provided that the club’s outside counsel handles legal matters for the club and further provided that the judge will not give legal advice or engage in decisions likely to lead to litigation.

Opinion 11-144 A judge should not agree to meet only with the state police to discuss what the state police perceive to be excessive overtime expenses for their troopers who appear in the judge’s court, but the judge may meet with representatives from law enforcement and members of the criminal defense bar for this purpose and may consider law enforcement’s needs and interests as factors along with those of defendants, their attorneys, witnesses and the court’s limited resources when considering any requests for administrative changes.

(Inquiry 11-145 did not result in a published decision.)

Opinion 11-146 May a judge make a political contribution to a presidential candidate or to a congressional candidate outside of New York State?

Opinion 11-147 A judge need not disqualify him/herself solely because of the familial relationship when the judge’s second cousin who is a law enforcement officer appears as a witness in the judge’s court but has the discretion to disclose the relationship and to grant or deny any resulting request for recusal, unless the judge’s relationship with his/her relative/law enforcement officer is so close that it would cause the judge’s impartiality to reasonably be questioned.

Opinion 11-148 A full-time court employee who has been assigned to serve part-time as a special referee while continuing to fulfill the full-time non-judicial and administrative responsibilities of his/her actual job title may serve on a municipal community board that is concerned with fact or policy issues in matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.

Opinion 11-149 A Family Court judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from any PINS petition filed by or on behalf of a high school where the principal is the judge’s personal friend and the judge’s spouse is a teacher.

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Opinion 11-150 A part-time judge who is permitted to practice law may not permit an attorney who is “of counsel” to the judge’s professional limited liability company law firm to appear before the judge or any co-judge of the court in which the judge presides but may permit the attorney to appear on behalf of the firm before the full and part-time judges of other courts in which the judge does not preside.

Opinion 11-151 A full-time judge, who presides in criminal cases and whose law clerk’s spouse is an assistant district attorney in the same county where the judge presides, must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal when the spouse has had any involvement in a case. If the judge’s disqualification is remitted and the judge is willing to preside, he/she must insulate the law clerk from the case. Remittal is not available if a party appears without representation. Note: Modified by Opinion 13-26, which calls for insulation of the law clerk rather than disqualification of the judge, and Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 11-152(A) What are a judge’s ethical obligations in light of the transcription services the judge’s secretary provides to local law firms and local government offices on non-court time?

Opinion 11-153 A judge should not, even on an interim basis, volunteer to drive defendants, who are convicted in the judge’s court and sentenced to perform community service, to locations where the community service is to be performed.

Opinion 11-154/11-155 Subject to appropriate administrative approvals, a full-time trial court judge may permit a for-profit video production company to film regular court proceedings for a documentary, and may permit a local public access television channel to video selected court hearings for broadcast at a later time, as long as the judge will merely perform his/her regular judicial duties while being filmed, will not receive compensation from the filming company or broadcaster, and will not allow the filming process to interfere with the court’s proceedings.

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Numerical Listing of 2012 Opinions

[Jump to 20092010, 20112013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 201820192020, 2021, 2022]

Opinion 12-01 A judge is not required to disclose that he/she consulted with court security personnel about possible security threats arising from a document admitted into evidence in a pending matter; and the judge may continue to preside over the matter as long as the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 12-02 A judge is not disqualified from presiding in cases involving the county or its agencies or departments, solely because that judge’s court attorney is married to the county treasurer, provided the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial. Where the treasurer is a party, however, the judge should insulate his/her court attorney and disclose the relationship.

(Inquiry 12-03 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-04 May a Family Court judge presiding over abuse and neglect cases give a seminar on educational law to Department of Social Services caseworkers, Deputy County Attorneys who appear in Family Court, Legal Aid Attorneys and any other attorneys interested in attending?

Opinion 12-05 A judge who is a former law clerk is disqualified, subject to remittal, when his/her former supervising judge appears as an attorney, for one year after the employment relationship ended. Thereafter, for one additional year, the judge must disclose his/her former employment relationship with the former judge, but has the discretion to grant or deny a resulting motion for recusal. Moreover, during this two-year period, the judge may not preside over matters in which his/her former judge or supervisor appears if any party to the matter is proceeding without legal representation. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 12-06 May a town justice who previously served as a road deputy in the county sheriff’s department and, in that capacity, arrested an individual, preside in another, unrelated matter involving that same individual?

Opinion 12-07 A judge who is a respondent in an Article 78 proceeding directed to the judge’s official role may preside in unrelated cases commenced by the same law office, unless the judge doubts his/her ability to be fair and impartial in the unrelated matter.

Opinion 12-08 May a part-time attorney judge preside in a matter involving an attorney from a firm to which the judge’s firm referred a criminal matter and which firm referred several civil matters to the judge’s firm, where these matters were all completely resolved more than two years ago and there are no outstanding fee claims?

Opinion 12-09 What are a judge’s ethical obligations now that the deputy chief clerk’s sibling is counsel for the local housing authority, which brings summary proceedings in the judge’s court?

Opinion 12-10 A judge may witness and authenticate a relative's signature on a foreign pension document, where the document lists "judges" as one of several categories of acceptable witnesses.

(Inquiry 12-11 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-12 A town justice who, in his/her official capacity, consulted the town attorney about a subpoena the judge received is not disqualified from presiding when the town attorney appears in his/her court once the subpoena is no longer outstanding and the representation is concluded.

Opinion 12-13 Must a judge disqualify or disclose their prior landlord/tenant relationship and possible associate relationship with an attorney, which ended more than 16 years ago, when that attorney is currently representing the plaintiffs in a civil action brought against a pro se defendant?

Opinion 12-14 A part-time judge may serve as president of a not-for-profit organization which promotes athletic involvement by raising funds for athletic programs at local schools and may assist the organization with planning fund-raising, provided that the judge does not personally solicit funds, does not permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising, and does not permit his/her name to appear as the author on any fund-raising letter or as spokesperson in other solicitations.

Opinion 12-15 May a judge permit their principal law clerk to continue on the board of directors of a charitable organization whose mission is "to connect, inspire and empower peacebuilders through education and the arts"?

(Inquiry 12-16 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-17 A full-time judge, who presides in a court devoted to cases involving a particular municipality and who previously was a member of a law firm that litigated cases in the same court against the same municipality, is not required to disclose his/her prior association with the law firm or to disqualify him/herself from cases against the municipality where the judge's prior law firm is not involved.

Opinion 12-18 A Family Court judge may not, as an extra-judicial activity, request Department of Social Services case files for truant children; meet with agency caseworkers, educators, attorneys, and parents to advise them about specific rights and services that may be available to these children under the Education Law; and collaborate with them on ways to improve the children's school attendance.

Opinion 12-19 A part-time judge may personally market a software product that includes course materials the judge develops for continuing legal education programs to attorneys or law firm staff, provided that the judge does not exploit his/her judicial position in marketing the product. Absent other factors, the judge is not disqualified from presiding over matters involving law firms that have purchased the judge's software product unless the judge doubts his/her ability to remain impartial.

Opinion 12-20 Must a town or village justice object to their spouse (who is also their court clerk) serving as the secretary for the local political party whose support the justice will be soon be seeking for re-election?

Opinion 12-21 A judge may offer his/her private law library for free to members of a local bar association on a "first come, first serve basis," and need not disclose or disqualify him/herself from matters in which an attorney recipient appears.

Opinion 12-22 A part-time judge (1) may be one of the original organizers of a not-for-profit organization that will educate students about the law; (2) may serve as the organization's Executive Director and as a member of its board of directors; (3) may not personally solicit volunteers to serve on the organization's board, but may permit any non-judge among the original organizers of the entity to do so on the judge's behalf, provided that the judge does not use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for this purpose; (4) may not personally solicit volunteer guest teachers, except from among existing members of the organization; and (5) may accept a grant or fellowship for any permissible purpose, provided that the grant or fellowship is awarded on the same terms and criteria applied to other applicants.

Opinion 12-23 A judge may organize a non-fund-raising social golf outing for the local legal community and their friends.

Opinion 12-24 A judge paid to be a sports referee for certain educational entities, as an independent contractor selected and retained by the board of education's subcontractor, from a list of independently certified referees, may preside when the board appears, if the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial.

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Opinion 12-25 A judge who is disqualified from presiding over matters where a particular attorney appears may not "so-order" stipulations entered into by that attorney.

Opinion 12-26 A judge may not provide an endorsement of a book that would appear on the book's back cover and identify him/her - although not by name - as a New York State Judge.

Opinion 12-27 May a judge attend an awards ceremony for caseworkers in the Department of Social Services when county attorneys, legal aid and 18B attorneys have also been invited to attend?

Opinion 12-28 Assuming a judge can be fair and impartial, the judge need not disqualify him/herself when a campaign advisor who was appointed by a county political committee to advise several candidates during a recent election, including the judge, appears before the judge as an attorney, where the advisor did not play an active, significant or pivotal role in the judge's campaign.

Opinion 12-29 Must a judge report an attorney the judge previously sanctioned, who is now engaging in conduct the judge believes to be unethical?

Opinion 12-30 A part-time judge may be employed as clerk to the county legislature and may, in that capacity, attend the year-end majority caucus solely to seek the nomination for reappointment as clerk for the following year.

Opinion 12-31 May a judge author an article in which the judge will (a) disagree with court holdings in an area of federal law that does not apply in New York; (b) suggest alternative ways to construe such federal law; and (c) propose reforms to current doctrine?  May the judge use judicial stationery and/or email to submit the article for publication?

Opinion 12-32 A part-time judge may operate a business as a certified forensic science expert provided that (1) the judge does not perform such services in any case in the judge's court's jurisdiction; (2) he/she undertakes no assignments for the New York State Police or other agencies that frequently appear in his/her court; and (3) the judge disqualifies him/herself whenever an attorney for whom the judge is performing or has performed such services or from whom the judge has recently solicited such work, appears in the judge's court and for two years after any such services conclude and all fees are paid.

(Inquiry 12-33 did not result in a published opinion.)

(Inquiry 12-34 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-35 If a judge of a local justice court concludes that his/her court is not adequately included on either the Unified Court System's website or on the local municipality's website, the judge may create and maintain an independent website for the justice court itself, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 12-36 (1) While child support obligations continue between a judge and his/her ex-spouse, who is a local prosecutor, the judge is disqualified when either the ex-spouse or other attorneys subject to the judge's ex-spouse's supervision appear before the judge. Disqualification during this period is subject to remittal unless a party appears without counsel. (2) (a) After the financial obligations between the ex-spouses are discharged, the judge must disclose the former marital relationship when his/her ex-spouse appears before him/her, but need not make any disclosure when other prosecutors subject to the ex-spouse's supervision appear before the judge. (b) During this period, the judge must disqualify him/herself from a matter in which the judge's ex-spouse appears if any party is self-represented. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 12-37 (1) A former judge of a court, other than an Appellate Division or the Court of Appeals, may practice law in his/her former court immediately upon leaving the bench. (2) A former judge is ineligible for appointments governed by Part 36 of the Rules of the Chief Judge for two years after the judge leaves judicial office in any court within the jurisdiction where the judge served. (3) A judge is not necessarily disqualified from presiding when a former judge of the same court appears before him/her. (4) Support magistrates, judicial hearing officers, and referees are disqualified, subject to remittal, when a former judge of the court in which they serve appears, for two years after the former judge's term of office ends.

Opinion 12-38 Must a recently elected judge disqualify in a proceeding where close relatives of their election opponent appear as party litigants?

Opinion 12-39 A judge who serves on a hospital's board of trustees, and who, on learning of an ongoing investigation of the hospital and a proposed resolution of certain impending charges, has taken affirmative steps to avoid any participation in the matter, need not resign from the board.

Opinion 12-40 A judge may participate in an athletic event that is organized as a charitable fund-raiser and may donate his/her personal funds to the organization or cause, but the judge must not (a) personally solicit funds from any person, including colleagues, relatives and long-time friends, (b) solicit contributing sponsors, or (c) allow the fact of the judge's participation or his/her judicial title to be utilized to raise funds for the organization or the event. [Note: This opinion has been modified in part by Opinions 15-171 and 16-153, with respect to family members and “judicial colleagues over whom he/she has no appellate or supervisory authority.”]

Opinion 12-41 May a part-time attorney judge continue to commence or defend civil actions as a self-represented litigant in various justice courts in the same county where the judge practices law and presides?

Opinion 12-42 Where the judge's spouse is employed as the confidential secretary to the Public Defender, what are the judge's obligations when a party is represented by the Office of the Public Defender?

Opinion 12-43 May a town justice permit the town supervisor to transport court funds to the bank for deposit?

Opinion 12-44 A judge may not preside at and offer a critique of a mock trial to be held during a trial skills training program for prosecutors.

Opinion 12-45 Disclosure is not mandatory where a retired appellate judge's former principal law clerk appears before the court, provided that the matter is not one in which the attorney personally participated and the presiding judges conclude that they can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 12-46 A judge may not permit his/her law clerk to serve on the board of directors of a social services agency that appears frequently in the judge's current court and is also involved in the majority of cases in a court over which the judge expects to preside in the near future.

(Inquiry 12-47 did not result in a published opinion.)

(Inquiry 12-48 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-49 A judge may preside over a mock video arraignment for educational purposes during a county executive's state of the county speech.

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Opinion 12-50 Must a judge disqualify from hearing and deciding a contempt application against a defendant, where (1) the application was brought two days before the judge's scheduled visit, pursuant to court mandate, to the correctional facility in which the defendant was incarcerated and (2) the superintendent who conducted the tour was called as a witness against the defendant at the contempt hearing?

(Inquiry 12-51 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-52 (1) A judges' association may make a charitable donation to a private school's athletic program; (2) members of the association may thereafter attend a sporting event at the school, which is being held to raise funds for medical research, and accept public recognition for their contribution to the school's athletic program both as an association and as individual judges, provided that such recognition is unadvertised and ancillary to the event; and (3) the association's logo may be displayed at the school's playing fields, where, under the circumstances presented, it appears that the display is meant to recognize the association's support of the school's athletic program, rather than for fund-raising purposes.

Opinion 12-53 It is inconsistent with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct for a town justice court clerk to also serve as deputy supervisor in the same town.

(Inquiry 12-54 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-55 An attorney's refusal to make potentially incriminating statements, standing alone, does not rise to the level of a "substantial likelihood" that the attorney has committed professional misconduct.

(Inquiry 12-56 did not result in a published opinion.)

(Inquiry 12-57 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-58 A judge serving as president of a fire company organized as a not-for-profit may not engage in fund-raising activities, including the encouraging of members of the legislature to appropriate funds for the organization.

Opinion 12-59 May a judge serve as Master of Ceremonies for an annual community parade sponsored by a non profit organization?

(Inquiry 12-60 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-61 What should a judge do on learning, after the fact, that a local bar foundation had placed an advertisement for a now-concluded fund-raising event using the judge's name and judicial title without the judge's knowledge or consent?

Opinion 12-62/12-69 A judge who agrees to lecture at a continuing legal education program and thereafter learns that the sponsoring organization is using the judge's name and title to solicit attorneys to attend the program, in a manner that clearly and improperly implies that attendance will put the attorneys into a special position to influence the judge, should withdraw from the program and object in writing to the sponsoring organization.

(Inquiry 12-63 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-64 A judge who refers defendants convicted of certain crimes to attend victim impact panels may, for purposes of judicial education, observe a victim impact panel in operation in a county other than the one in which the judge presides; although the judge should, to the extent feasible, arrange to observe anonymously without being identified as a judge.

(Inquiry 12-65 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-66 May a town justice serve as the elected Fire Commissioner of a Fire District for a hamlet within the town?

(Inquiry 12-67 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-68 (1) It is ethically impermissible for a judge or the judge's court clerk to distribute an informational packet the District Attorney has prepared to inform defendants how they may request a reduction of an alleged Vehicle and Traffic Law violation pending in the judge's court. (2) Whether a judge must review the affidavit a defendant must submit to the District Attorney when requesting a reduction of an alleged Vehicle and Traffic Law violation before ruling on the proposed plea agreement is a question of law that is beyond the Committee's jurisdiction.

(Opinion 12-69 is part of Opinion 12-62/12-69, above.)

Opinion 12-70 May a sitting town or village justice serve on a local criminal justice council whose mission is to "engage[] in a collaborative process of information sharing to maximize resources resulting in an enhanced criminal justice process"?

Opinion 12-71 An administrative judge, whose law clerk does not have a quasi-judicial title nor functions, may permit that law clerk to engage in political activity, subject to the applicable Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and Part 50 of the Rules of the Chief Judge governing the political activities of non-judicial employees. The judge should instruct his/her law clerk not to create the impression that the judge is engaged in political activities and should advise him/her that political activities are not permitted in the courthouse or during the law clerk's working hours.

Opinion 12-72 A part-time judge need not disqualify him/herself where the emancipated adult child of a town board member or village trustee, who participates in setting a judge's salary, appears as a witness.

Opinion 12-73 A part-time judge may serve as a school tax collector in the municipality where the judge presides.

Opinion 12-74 A judge may participate in a panel discussion about preventing and reducing underage drinking, where the program is educational in nature and is unlikely to be perceived as a law enforcement program.

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Opinion 12-75 Provided that the judge can remain fair and impartial, and absent any other factor requiring disqualification, a trial court judge may preside in a matter that involves legal issues similar to those the judge's attorney spouse is litigating before other judges in unrelated matters.

(Inquiry 12-76 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-77 May a town justice serve as assigned counsel for the county court in the same county in which they preside?

Opinion 12-78 A judge who granted a criminal defendant's post-trial motion to set aside a jury's guilty verdict need not disqualify him/herself from presiding over the new trial, unless the judge questions his/her own ability to be impartial.

(Inquiry 12-79 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-80 A full-time judge who presides over matters involving the county police department and its officers may not serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit "Law Enforcement Exploring" program which is designed to promote law enforcement careers and is jointly administered with the county police department.

Opinion 12-81 A quasi-judicial employee who is required to belong to a labor union that represents Unified Court System employees may participate in union activities to the extent permitted by law, the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and prior Opinions.

(Inquiry 12-82 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-83 May supervising judges in the Family Court attend a series of internal meetings of a local social services agency, as part of a program at which “individual child protective cases for which [the agency] has responsibility both pre-litigation and in litigation are discussed in detail"?

Opinion 12-84/12-95(B)-(G) (1) A judicial candidate must not be a speaker, guest of honor, or award recipient at a politically sponsored event, unless either (a) the event is not a fund-raiser, or (b) the candidate's participation is unannounced prior to the event. (2) To the extent legally permissible, a judicial candidate may use campaign funds to attend bar association functions or other events that are not hosted by political organizations throughout his/her window period, provided that his/her attendance is in furtherance of his/her campaign for judicial office and the candidate determines that he/she will receive fair value for the expenditure. (3) A judicial candidate may list the name of a sitting judge as a reference for a political party's screening panel but must not ask a sitting judge to write the panel directly on the candidate's behalf. (4) A judicial candidate may permit other individuals to attend his/her fund-raiser without charge, regardless of whether such individuals are currently seeking election to public office. (5) A judicial candidate may include a link from his/her campaign website to a political organization's website which contains information promoting the judicial candidate's campaign.

Opinion 12-85(A) What is a judge's ethical obligation when an attorney with whom the judge has a social relationship submits papers in a matter assigned to the judge?

Opinion 12-85(B) What is a judge's ethical obligation when law firm colleagues of an attorney with whom the judge has a social relationship are involved in cases before the judge?

Opinion 12-86 Under the circumstances presented, a judges' association may permit non-judicial co-sponsors of an educational conference to raise funds from foundations, bar associations, law schools, and members of the bar.

Opinion 12-87 May a judge serve as chairperson of a committee of a not-for-profit organization which is dedicated to providing safe drinking water, where the committee is charged with taking positions on legislative and regulatory bills, rules, and actions that affect public water supplies?

Opinion 12-88 May a judge sitting in a criminal part be an honorary member of a local sheriff's association and/or attend the association's annual dinner?

Opinion 12-89 While it is not inherently unethical for a town justice to use a bonded armored car service to transport court funds to a bank for deposit, the judge must comply with applicable laws and regulations.

Opinion 12-90 May a judge attend the wedding of a former colleague who regularly appears before them in court as an attorney?  What will the judge's ethical obligations be in matters involving the attorney if the judge attends the wedding and gives a gift?

Opinion 12-91 A part-time judge may, to the extent legally permitted, authorize his/her restaurant to promote sales by advertising that the restaurant will contribute part of its sales to a not-for-profit organization, provided that the judge's name and judicial office are not associated with the promotion.

Opinion 12-92 Under the circumstances presented, a part-time attorney-judge may represent the board of directors of a large homeowners' association which is located within the geographic jurisdiction of the judge's court. The judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when individual board members or the association itself appear before the judge, but not when individual homeowners or community residents appear before the judge.

Opinion 12-93 May a judge accept an appointment to sit on both the plaintiffs' counsel and defense counsel insurance and negligence committees of their local bar association?

Opinion 12-94 A judge who is named as defendant/respondent in a federal proceeding in his/her official capacity may preside over an unrelated criminal matter wherein the plaintiff/appellant appears as complainant, provided the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 12-95(A) Unexpended campaign funds totaling less than $1,000 need not be returned to contributors on a pro rata basis but may be expended for any lawful non-political purpose connected to judicial office, such as the purchase of office supplies, computer software or books. [Note: Opinion 16-29/16-50 raises the threshold for treating unexpended campaign funds as de minimis to "$2,500 or less."]

Opinion 12-96 A judge charged with violating the vehicle and traffic law may negotiate with the prosecutor for reduction or dismissal of the charged violation, either pro se or through an attorney but must not use or invoke his/her judicial title/status in the negotiations.

Opinion 12-97 A judge or non-judge candidate for election to town or village justice may fully participate as a candidate in a local bar association's screening process, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial campaign speech. Thereafter, the judge may preside in a matter in which a member of the panel appears as an attorney, absent any disqualifying factor and assuming the judge can be impartial.

(Inquiry 12-98 did not result in a published opinion.)

(Inquiry 12-99 did not result in a published opinion.)

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(Inquiry 12-100 did not result in a published opinion.)

(Inquiry 12-101 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-102 A judge, disqualified from hearing a matter because one party is a first-degree relative of the judge, need not inform his/her co-judge of this relationship and should not make any unnecessary, voluntary disclosure of the relationship while the litigation is pending. 

Opinion 12-103 May a judge preside in cases where their cousin's child, a law enforcement officer, is likely to appear before them in traffic court?

Opinion 12-104 A judge (1) may solemnize the marriage of an attorney who regularly appears before the judge; and (2) will not, on that sole basis, incur any new or additional disclosure obligations.

Opinion 12-105 A judge must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, when the manufactured home park that employs the judge's child appears in the judge's court as a party

Opinion 12-106 A trial judge may invite other trial judges, who are not subject to his/her supervision, to make voluntary donations to a relief fund set up for a judicial colleague who suffered devastating losses to his/her home and personal possessions. The funds may then be given as a gift to the receiving judge, subject to any applicable reporting requirements.

Opinion 12-107 A support magistrate is not precluded from negotiating the purchase of an expensive leisure item from a seller who recognized the support magistrate's name and spontaneously expressed gratitude for the support magistrate's prior decision, where the decision was rendered two years ago and there are currently no pending or open issues in the matter, but the support magistrate must take certain precautions to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Opinion 12-108 A judge may join a board of directors of a charitable entity that receives, reviews and determine requests to fund arts and education projects.

Opinion 12-109 A judge may write a letter in support of a municipality's application for a grant to improve the overall safety and accessibility of the municipal facility that houses the court and the court clerk's office.

Opinion 12-110 May a part-time judge (1) be a restaurant owner and have their name on a liquor license; and (2) preside over cases in which the assistant public defender is an attorney who previously represented the judge?

Opinion 12-111 (1) A judge, whose parent has retained a private law firm to represent him/her as an executor in an estate proceeding, is disqualified from all matters in which the law firm appears until the estate proceeding is fully concluded. The disqualification is subject to remittal as set forth herein. (2) For two years after the estate proceeding is fully concluded, if all parties who have appeared and not defaulted are represented by counsel, the judge may preside over matters in which the law firm appears after making full disclosure of the prior representation. If any party is appearing pro se, or if the judge does not wish to make disclosure, the judge may not preside. (3) After the two-year period, neither disclosure nor disqualification is required. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.  In addition, Opinion 13-132 has modified this opinion "to reflect that disqualification does not extend to attorneys in the law firm who are not involved in representing" the judge's first-degree relative.

Opinion 12-112 (1) May a judge be a guest of honor or honoree at a small local newspapers' non-fund raising event and accept the newspaper's Award in Political Leadership? (2) May a judge assist a not-for-profit entity in organizing a non-fund raising community event honoring successful women?

Opinion 12-113 Under the circumstances presented, a full-time judge may serve on an advisory council to help develop a community-based approach for improving school attendance and thereafter advise the school's site-based decision-making board.

Opinion 12-114 A judicial candidate may not use a photograph taken at a social event with an elected local public official who is not part of the candidate's slate and who has not endorsed the candidate, unless the official consents to use of the photograph in the judicial candidate's campaign.

Opinion 12-115 May a judge who is a retired Law Enforcement Officer carry a concealed firearm in accordance with the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act?

Opinion 12-116 A judge may continue to refer cases to a court-sponsored mediation center on the consent of all parties and counsel, and need not disclose his/her spouse's service on the center's board of directors, where the director position is uncompensated and the judge's spouse will not be involved in any mediations.

Opinion 12-117 A judge, who determined that the only remaining issues in a civil matter should be heard in another part of the court and advised the parties that it must be re-filed as a new action, need not disqualify him/herself from thereafter presiding in the new action where the judge has no personal bias or prejudice concerning a party and the judge's participation does not otherwise create an appearance of impropriety.

Opinion 12-118 May a judge represent their county bar association at the signing of a "co-operation agreement" with a sister European city's district bar council for the exchange of mutual professional, social and cultural interests?

Opinion 12-119 Where a judge was previously a supervising attorney in the indigent defense law office civil division in one county, and now serves as a judge assigned to a criminal term in another county, what are the judge's ethical obligations when an indigent defense attorney appears before him/her?

Opinion 12-120 May a judge participate in a non-fund-raising event to promote literacy among children in the judge's county?

Opinion 12-121 Is there an ethically permissible way for attorneys, who represent a certain category of petitioners in name change proceedings, to share their clients' concerns with members of the bench?

(Inquiry 12-122 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-123 Unless prohibited by law, a former judge who is designated as a judicial hearing officer in a particular court may also accept an appointment as a special referee to supervise discovery in a matter pending in the same court and may accept compensation for the fair value of services rendered. [Note: Opinion 20-79 states "Significantly the 2019 amendment to Section 122.10(c) effectively modifies Opinion 12-123 with respect to compensation. Although a JHO in a particular court may still accept an appointment as a special referee to supervise discovery in a matter pending in the same court, his/her compensation is now limited by Section 122.8."]

Opinion 12-124 A judge may attend a retirement party for an elected official who has announced his/her retirement and is not seeking re-election, where the event is being paid for by the retiring official's campaign funds but is not otherwise sponsored by a political organization.

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Opinion 12-125 Must a judge disclose their social relationship with an attorney appearing before them and/or disqualify themselves from presiding because of that relationship?

Opinion 12-126 Is there a "proper basis" for a judge to address a college class at their alma mater on a topical, controversial issue which is the subject of a recent trial court decision the judge authored and is currently on appeal?

(Inquiry 12-127 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-128 A judge need not disclose that a party to pending litigation has filed an ethics complaint against a court-appointed expert, where the judge learned of the complaint when an investigator from the disciplinary authority requested a copy of the expert's confidential report.

Opinion 12-129(A)-(G) (1) A judicial candidate may not hire a professional fund-raising consultant who will be paid on a percentage or commission basis. (2) A judicial candidate may hold a free "meet and greet" event at which modest and reasonable refreshments are served. (3) A judicial candidate may attend and participate in a politically sponsored golf tournament during his/her window period, subject to limitations on price and number of tickets, and may also purchase campaign advertisements at such events, subject to the fair value rule. (4) A judicial candidate may comment on an opponent's conduct, subject to certain limitations. (5) A judicial candidate who is defeated in the election may use a de minimis amount of unexpended campaign funds for an extremely modest social event to thank persons who significantly volunteered on the candidate's campaign.

(Inquiry 12-130 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-131 Must a judge report an attorney to the Grievance Committee for submitting false affidavits of actual engagement?

Opinion 12-132 May a judge provide a list of all defendants represented by a certain attorney during a two year period pursuant to a request by the District Attorney?

(Inquiry 12-133 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-134 May a judge continue to serve as town justice if the town retains the judge's firm to represent the town in a state or federal court action?

Opinion 12-135 A judge who is participating in a not-for-profit religious institution's outreach trip to interact with children in a foreign country (1) may participate in discussions about the trip, provided that the judge is not involved in fund-raising; (2) must instruct those raising funds for the trip not to use his/her judicial title in soliciting funds; (3) may solicit children's drawings that will be distributed during the trip; and (4) may permit his/her judicial title to appear in an information booklet for parents of the children they will meet during the trip.

Opinion 12-136 Under the facts presented, a judge may accept free admission to a modestly priced community event from the sponsoring local not-for-profit organization, provided the donor and its interests have not come, and are not likely to come before the judge.

(Inquiry 12-137 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-138 A part-time judge who is knowledgeable about commercial truck driving, because of the judge's education, experience, employment, and credentials as a commercial truck driver and instructor, may accept employment as an expert witness on the subject of commercial truck driving in a Supreme Court case, provided that the party and/or attorney who retains the judge does not regularly appear before the judge. The judge must disqualify him/herself whenever the party or attorney appears in the judge's court, during the course of the employment and for two years after his/her services conclude and all fees are paid.

Opinion 12-139 May a judge serve as a member of an Alternatives to Incarceration advisory board?

Opinion 12-140 May a judge deliver remarks at a luncheon for associates of a private law firm?

Opinion 12-141 May a judge display on the judge's vehicle a license plate that is issued by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and that indicates the vehicle registrant is a judge?

Opinion 12-142 A judge who is president of a not-for-profit religious organization may help plan the organization's fund-raising event, and may attend the event, but must not speak or participate in any substantial or prominent manner during the event.

Opinion 12-143 An individual subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct may attend criminal proceedings involving a 4th degree relative by blood or marriage, including a step-relative.

Opinion 12-144 A judge may not comment on a judicial candidate rating system created by a political organization's district leader.

(Inquiry 12-145 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-146 A judge may submit the judge's decision in a criminal case to a local newspaper for publication, subject to any applicable statutory provisions concerning sealed records, after the judge files the decision with the clerk of the court and without commenting about the decision in any way.

Opinion 12-147 Where the New York State Attorney General is the attorney of record in a case involving a state agency, a judge who has both an ongoing social relationship and a prior professional relationship with the state agency's general counsel is not required to disqualify him/herself, provided that the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial.

(Inquiry 12-148 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-149 A trial judge may critique a trial attorney's performance, subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, provided the judge offers the trial attorney's adversary the same or similar learning opportunity.

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(Inquiry 12-150 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-151 What are a judge's obligations when a fellow member of their golf club, that member's partners or associates, appear before the judge?

(Inquiry 12-152 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-153 A judge may not permit a bar association to award scholarships in the judge's name when, under the circumstances, doing so would lend the prestige of judicial office to advance private interests.

Opinion 12-154 A judge need not disclose that an attorney appearing before him/her is a first-degree relative of the judge's co-judge or disqualify him/herself, as the judge's impartiality cannot reasonably be questioned solely on that basis.

Opinion 12-155 (1) A judge must disclose facts that create an appearance that the judge's law clerk, during his/her former employment, was involved in representing the plaintiff in a matter currently before the judge, and must insulate the law clerk from the matter. (2) The judge has no obligation to disclose the law clerk's prior employment or insulate the law clerk in other, highly similar cases involving the same defendant, where the cases do not involve the law clerk's former client or prior employer and in which the law clerk has had no previous involvement. (3) The judge is not disqualified from presiding over any of these cases due to his/her law clerk's former employment.

Opinion 12-156 May a judge participate in a not-for-profit organization's training academy planning group, which wishes to educate lawyers on all sides of a criminal case about mental illness and the mental health system?

(Inquiry 12-157 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-158 May a part-time judge serve as a County's Veterans' Counselor?

Opinion 12-159 May a judge accept a position on the board of directors of an organization which raises and administers funds for college scholarships for graduating seniors of a local high school?

Opinion 12-160 (1) A town/village justice who learns that the bank did not credit a deposit to the court's account, and who believes there was no malfeasance on the part of court personnel entrusted with the deposit, may reimburse all or part of the missing court funds from personal assets, and also may accept the court clerk's voluntary offer to do so. (2) The judge need not report that the missing funds were personally replenished, unless he/she is legally required to do so. (3) To the extent that the missing deposit included money orders or checks tendered by individual defendants, the judge may permit the court clerk to ask them to issue replacements.

(Inquiry 12-161 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-162 Under the circumstances presented, where a judge believes in good faith that certain municipal employees have deliberately sought to interfere with the judge's ability to perform his/her judicial duties and such alleged conduct has caused the judge to file a Notice of Claim against the municipality, the judge may continue to preside in matters involving the municipality, provided that the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial in such matters. However, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, if one of the municipal employees identified in the Notice of Claim as allegedly engaging in offending conduct appears before the judge as a witness or an attorney.

Opinion 12-163 A support magistrate whose spouse is employed by the local Department of Social Services in a high level, purely administrative capacity may continue to preside over matters in which the Department of Social Services appears, where the Commissioner has provided written assurance that the support magistrate's spouse will be completely insulated from Family Court matters.

Opinion 12-164 (1) For two years after the election, a judge must disclose that an attorney appearing in the judge's court participated in the judge's prior judicial election campaign, where the attorney's participation was more than minimal, but not at the formal leadership level. The judge retains full discretion to disqualify him/herself or remain on the case if after any such disclosure, a party objects to the judge's continued involvement in the matter. (2) The disclosure obligation is personal to the individual attorney who participated in the judge's campaign and does not extend to his/her partners or associates.

Opinion 12-165 May a town justice  publicize, in a variety of forums, a memo which states the judge's position on the town board's upcoming budget with respect to pay raises for the town court's employees?

Opinion 12-166 Must a judge report another judge's conduct occurring during a private dispute with a court employee which took place on court premises?

Opinion 12-167 A judge may speak, without compensation, at a free continuing legal education program, which is co-sponsored by a local hospital and a corporate sponsor, and will be held at the corporate sponsor's offices. However, the judge must not endorse or otherwise advance the private interests of the corporate sponsor, and the judge should not participate if the corporate sponsor is a party in a contested, adversarial proceeding that is presently being litigated before the judge.

(Inquiry 12-168 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 12-169 Under certain circumstances, a judge who is not a candidate for election to judicial office within his/her window period may attend a post-election reception in honor of the judge's child.

Opinion 12-170 May a judge attend the non-fund-raising retirement/birthday party of a non-judicial, elected official who is also a close friend and serve as the master of ceremonies?

Opinion 12-171 May a part-time attorney judge request the transfer of a client's case to another court in order to avoid the prohibition set forth in 22 NYCRR 100.6(B)(2)?

Opinion 12-172 A judicial candidate may not use funds raised for his/her Supreme Court race to make purchases which are exclusively related to his/her campaign for a different judicial position, but may use those funds to make generically useful purchases which could be used for either judicial campaign, assuming that the judicial candidate believes in good faith at the time of making the expenditures that his/her campaign for Supreme Court has not ended.

Opinion 12-173 (1) A judge's law firm may not represent a client in a criminal case that originated in the judge's court, even if the matter is transferred to the Integrated Domestic Violence court. (2) A judge's law firm may not continue to represent a client in Family Court cases that are intertwined with a criminal case that originated in the judge's court, once all the intertwined cases are transferred to the Integrated Domestic Violence Court. (3) Although a judge's associates may not appear before any judge of the judge's court, they are not barred from practicing in other courts and thus may appear before part-time judges in other courts who are permitted to practice law

Opinion 12-174 Must a judge disclose that their sixth degree relative is a high ranking official in a county agency, or disqualify, when caseworkers subject to their relative's oversight appear in cases before them?

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Opinion 12-175  An individual who is a part-time judge and has a co-judge may not also serve in the same court as a part-time court attorney.

Opinion 12-176 Must a judge recuse in a negligence action because an attorney who represented one of the defendants prior to the trial has been hired as a law clerk in the judge's court?

Opinion 12-177 A newly elected full-time judge may continue to participate in a variety of extra-judicial activities subject to the limitations set forth in the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and may accept gifts of a gavel or judicial robe from members of his/her family.

Opinion 12-178 Under the circumstances presented, a judge need not disclose a clerical court employee's familial relationship, or insulate the court employee, when the attorney who employs the court employee's non-lawyer relative appears in the judge's court.

Opinion 12-179 A judge, who has waived or renounced his/her interest in any and all fees that may be earned from cases that, more than ten years ago, the judge's former law firm referred to a law firm that will appear in the judge's court and that remain on a "deferred" calendar, need not disqualify him/herself when the law firm appears on other, unrelated cases.

Opinion 12-180 Must a judge report a litigant and/or the litigant's attorney where the litigant asserted in an affidavit that he/she lied to the court and that his/her counsel advised him/her to do so, and in subsequent papers denied perjuring him/herself or intentionally lying to the court?

Opinion 12-181/12-186 A judge may accept an appointment to serve on a domestic violence fatality review team, subject to certain limitations, but may not accept an appointment to serve as a member of a STOP-DWI planning board.

Opinion 12-182 A part-time judge presiding in a municipality may not consent to his/her law firm's proposed representation of claimants in an Article 78 proceeding against the municipality, where the outcome of the proceeding would directly affect the municipality's court facilities, particularly if the judge would share equally in the earned legal fee.

Opinion 12-183 A part-time lawyer/judge in a town, village, or city court may accept assignments from a full-time county court judge to represent prison inmates in their initial administrative appeals before the parole board.

Opinion 12-184 A quasi-judicial employee who has independently researched and developed a plan for national economic recovery may send the plan to the President of the United States, provided that he/she does so as a private citizen and does not in any way refer to his/her quasi-judicial office or use official stationery.

Opinion 12-185 A judge may accept an invitation to be the dinner guest of attorneys who have regularly appeared in the judge's court, if the dinner qualifies as ordinary social hospitality.

(Opinion 12-186 is part of Opinion 12-181/12-186.)

Opinion 12-187 A judge may not be the keynote speaker, honoree or awards recipient at a for-profit awards banquet sponsored by a commercial legal publisher, but may attend the event.

Opinion 12-188 May a town/village justice continue to serve as treasurer and service provider for a not-for-profit organization that provides services to the municipality in which the judge presides, where the services involve feral and abandoned animals and the municipality compensates the organization on a per animal basis?

Opinion 12-189 May a part-time judge be employed as an Indian Nation police officer?

Opinion 12-190 May a new full-time judge continue to use the e-mail address the judge previously used for their law practice and personal e-mails?

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Numerical Listing of 2013 Opinions

[Jump to 20092010, 201120122014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 201820192020, 2021, 2022]

Opinion 13-01 May a town justice permit a town employee to perform work in the court office when a regular court staff member is absent due to a vacation or illness?

Opinion 13-02 Where a part-time judge’s former client has filed a criminal complaint in the judge’s court relating to an alleged violation of an order issued by another court, the judge may not represent his/her former client in the other court, as the representation involves the same parties and the same or related facts as the pending criminal matter.

Opinion 13-03 A town justice may permit the court clerk to serve simultaneously as the town clerk for the same town in which the court is located.

(Inquiry 13-04 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 13-05 May a judge write a letter of nomination on behalf of a high school senior for a college scholarship?

Opinion 13-06 A court attorney referee may write and edit the pocket part update for a commercially available for-profit legal publication and receive reasonable compensation in accordance with 22 NYCRR 100.4(H).

Opinion 13-07 A part-time judge may accept appointment as a volunteer member of a legislatively established statewide council which reviews inmate grievances, provided that service on the council is not unduly controversial, but the judge must abstain from participating in the review of any grievance originating from the county in which he/she serves as a judge.

Opinion 13-08 May a full-time judge be credited as an author of an appellate brief, where the judge represented the defendant just prior to assuming the bench and briefed six points raised on appeal before another attorney assumed the representation?

Opinion 13-09/13-52 (1) A judge may respond to media inquiries about military law and justice issues, and participate in educational programs on such topics, subject to the public comment rule. (2) A part-time lawyer/judge who is acting on behalf of a client (a) may respond to media inquiries concerning issues addressed in an amicus brief that the lawyer/judge submitted on behalf of the client and (b) may attend military proceedings as a non-governmental observer on behalf of his/her client and prepare reports for his/her client, solely in his/her capacity as a lawyer representing a client, provided that the judge does not refer to or use his/her judicial status. (3) A judge may publicly explain and comment on the structure and procedures of certain types of military proceedings, subject to certain limitations. (4) A judge may publicly offer opinions on proposals for the improvement of military justice at public education programs, news panels, and Congressional briefings.

Opinion 13-10 What are a judge's obligations concerning an attorney the judge believes has an alcohol abuse problem?

Opinion 13-11 A part-time judge may permit his/her name and likeness to be used in advertising his/her law practice, provided there is no reference to the judge’s judicial status. The judge may not indirectly disclose his/her judicial status in such advertisements by stating that the law firm does not undertake representations in the judge’s court.

Opinion 13-12 A Family Court judge may not serve on the advisory board of the children’s rights division of a not-for-profit organization.

Opinion 13-13 A judge may participate in a focus group of “key leaders” in the community convened by a school district’s consultant, who is preparing a report analyzing local truancy and possible solutions, where the focus group will not establish or carry out policy or hear or determine any individual cases.

Opinion 13-14 May a part-time judge accept employment with a not-for-profit organization or a law firm to perform services that would include meeting with state and local governmental officials, providing the employer with legal and policy analysis of pending legislation, appearing at hearings before executive agencies and legislative bodies, advocating for and seeking the passage of legislation that advances the policies and interests of the not-for-profit organization or law firm clients, and performing trainings on policy, legislation, and laws to educate the constituencies of the not-for-profit or to promote the interest of the law firm’s clients?

(Inquiry 13-15 was withdrawn.)

(Inquiry 13-16 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 13-17 A judge may not sign a legislator’s petition regarding a proposed change in the law, where the petition is framed as a partisan political initiative designed to garner statements of public support for the individual legislator.

Opinion 13-18 A judge may make a charitable donation and permit the charity to acknowledge the donation by displaying a sign bearing the judge’s name and judicial title during the charity’s fund-raising golf outing.

Opinion 13-19 May a judge accede to a local law enforcement agency’s request to produce a list of vehicle and traffic defendants his/her court has reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend their drivers’ licenses for failing to pay a fine or failing to appear in court?

Opinion 13-20 May a judge serve as chair of a bar association committee that nominates association members for various professional and community awards?

Opinion 13-21 May a part-time judge accept an invitation from a not-for-profit fraternal organization to become a member of its national board?

Opinion 13-22 A judge who is not in his/her window period for election may not participate in a politically sponsored sporting event in which one local political party’s team will compete against another local political party’s team, where the purpose of the event is to improve both parties’ public image.

Opinion 13-23 A part-time town justice may accept appointment to the compensated part-time position of historian for the same municipality in which he/she presides.

Opinion 13-24 (1) A judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when commercial tenants of the judge’s children or stepchildren appear before the judge as attorneys or parties, but not when they appear as witnesses. (2) A judge is not disqualified from presiding over matters in which account-holders at the judge’s spouse’s bank or financial services company appear before the judge. (3) If a judge knows that an attorney, party or witness appearing before the judge has significant business dealings with the judge’s spouse’s bank, the judge must consider all the circumstances and thereafter must decide, in his/her discretion, whether to disclose or recuse. (4) A judge is not disqualified from presiding over matters involving not-for-profit entities that have received charitable gifts from the judge’s spouse or the spouse’s businesses.

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Opinion 13-25 May a part-time judge accept employment as an Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator at a correctional facility?

Opinion 13-26 A judge is not required to disqualify him/herself when an attorney, who represents the judge’s law clerk or secretary or who is a relative of the judge’s law clerk or secretary within the fourth degree, appears in the judge’s court. The judge must disclose the relationship and that he/she will insulate the law clerk or secretary from the attorney’s and the attorney’s law firm’s cases. After such disclosure, if a party objects to the judge’s continued participation in the case, the judge has the sole discretion to decide whether to exercise recusal.

(Inquiry 13-27 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 13-28 It is inconsistent with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct for a town supervisor to also serve as a security officer for the town court.

Opinion 13-29 A full-time judge may accept an invitation to speak at the annual conference of a not-for-profit association of legal and financial professionals involved in the structured settlement payment transfer process, and may permit the association to pay the judge’s reasonable travel and lodging expenses.

Opinion 13-30 May a judge preside in matters involving the local housing authority after formally interviewing with the trustees of the housing authority for the position of executive director, where the judge has already notified the chairperson that he/she no longer wishes to be considered for the position?

Opinion 13-31 May a judge agree to be interviewed for an article in the local weekly newspaper about the judge's background as a police officer, prosecutor and judge?

Opinion 13-32 A judge may obtain the advice of a disinterested expert on the law with respect to a legal issue that is not currently before the judge but which the judge anticipates may come before him/her in the future.

Opinion 13-33 Although a court should not simply advise a defendant of a police department’s procedures for seeking a plea reduction, the court may develop a form, without the police department’s or other prosecuting agency’s involvement, listing all of a defendant’s options, including the right to plead not guilty and proceed to trial and distribute the form to defendants or to advise a defendant orally of all his/her options

Opinion 13-34 A judge who presides in a criminal part may not lecture at an anti-violence program at a local correctional facility, where the attendees are persons who are incarcerated while either awaiting disposition of an unresolved case or awaiting sentence, and could appear before the judge as criminal defendants.

Opinion 13-35 Must a judge advise the police that a prospective tenant the judge interviewed has an open bench warrant from the court where the judge presides?

Opinion 13-36 A judge presiding in a criminal part may seek post-retirement employment with a not-for-profit organization that provides training and support services to prosecutors. Provided that the judge can be fair and impartial, the judge’s employment application will not by itself require disclosure or disqualification in a criminal matter unless the prospective employer is appearing or participating in the matter.

(Inquiry 13-37 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 13-38 A judge may, in his/her capacity as a parent, express his/her concerns about the conduct of his/her child’s public school teacher by (a) signing a petition addressed to the principal, along with other parents; (b) speaking directly with the teacher; and (c) writing to the principal about the teacher, provided the judge does not invoke his/her judicial status in doing so.

Opinion 13-39 Does the mere status of being "Facebook friends," without more, require a judge's disqualification in a case?

Opinion 13-40 A judge may serve on an award selection committee for an award ceremony and reception for members of the legal profession, where the event is hosted at a law school and is co-sponsored by certain bar associations and local business entities.

Opinion 13-41 A judge who is a defendant in federal court in his/her official capacity based on his/her prior judicial acts in a particular case (1) may continue to preside over any additional proceedings which come before him/her in the particular case, (2) may preside over other matters in which the judge’s federal court co-defendants or their counsel appear, and (3) is not precluded from appointing an attorney to Part 36 or other appointments merely because the judge and the attorney are co-defendants in the federal action.

Opinion 13-42 The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit a justice court from advertising for local not-for-profit organizations willing to accept court placements of defendants to serve community service sentences.

Opinion 13-43 May a part-time judge permit a part-time assistant court clerk to also work as the assistant to the Chief of the police department that regularly appears in the judge's court?

Opinion 13-44 A judge who previously served on a few occasions as a part-time prosecutor by designation is not required to disclose in criminal matters that his/her designation by the local district attorney was revoked without explanation following unrelated media criticism of the latter prosecutor

Opinion 13-45 A judge may attend and be honored at a reception organized by a bar association and underwritten by one or more commercial sponsors, including a law firm that will host the reception at its offices and provide all refreshments, where the event is publicized and open generally to members of the bench and bar, unless the host law firm is actively engaged in litigation in the judge’s court.

Opinion 13-46 A judge is not disqualified from presiding over a matter wherein the county is a party, solely because the county is a tenant of a judge’s first-degree relative, provided the case does not involve matters directly pertaining to the tenancy or the landlord-tenant relationship.

Opinion 13-47 Absent additional factors, a judge is not disqualified solely because one of the litigants, in his/her capacity as a secretarial employee of a political party, answered the telephone when the judge called the political party’s headquarters to discuss his/her own candidacy during the applicable window period.

Opinion 13-48 Must a village justice enforce a local law which he/she believes to be lacking in legal standing and precedent"?

Opinion 13-49 If the judge determines that he/she can be impartial and that neither disclosure nor disqualification is required under Opinion 11-125, whether to disclose the social connection the judge has to an assistant district attorney who is the future spouse of the judge’s law firm colleague is solely within the judge’s discretion. 

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Opinion 13-50 If it is legal for an administrative law judge of a traffic bureau to accept a guilty plea from a pro se defendant that includes incarceration, then it is also ethical for a part-time judge to do so in his/her separate capacity as an administrative law judge.

Opinion 13-51/13-169 A judge is disqualified, subject to remittal where available, from presiding over matters involving a governmental entity that administers the judge’s tenant’s rent subsidy. However, the judge is not disqualified for that reason when other municipal departments appear in the judge’s court. 

(Opinion 13-52 is part of Opinion 13-09/13-52, above.)

Opinion 13-53 May a judge give a statement or affidavit requested by an assistant district attorney concerning a criminal case, adjudicated more than 20 years ago, in which the judge represented the defendant?

Opinion 13-54 A part-time judge who has adopted reasonable procedures to avoid presiding over matters in which current and recent former clients of his/her law firm appear, and then learns that he/she has nonetheless inadvertently presided over a matter in which one party was a recent former client, has no obligation to disclose that the defendant is a former client of the judge’s law firm or to take any further action.

Opinion 13-55 Is a judge required to report the alleged misconduct of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to the Commission on Judicial Conduct and/or to the department that employs the ALJ?

(Inquiry 13-56 was withdrawn.)

(Inquiry 13-57 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 13-58 May a part-time lawyer town justice appear as counsel in a city court which is located in the same county as the town court over which he/she presides, when he/she has accepted temporary assignments to sit in the same city court?

Opinion 13-59 May a judge who has never been professionally associated with a law firm, but either has or has had social or professional relationships with two attorneys who are partners in the firm, preside when other members of the firm appear in the judge's court?

Opinion 13-60 A judicial candidate who has inadvertently overpaid for an upcoming political event by purchasing a sponsor-level ticket rather than a general admission ticket, and who has requested a refund of the excess payment, need not take any further action.

Opinion 13-61 A judge who concludes that an attorney has threatened to file a complaint against the judge in an effort to unduly influence the judge’s judicial decision should report the attorney to the appropriate disciplinary committee.

Opinion 13-62 Where a prospective witness in a criminal case is the presiding judge’s former client and a jury will hear the evidence and render a verdict, the judge may preside after full disclosure of the prior representation to all sides, including the pro se defendant and his/her standby counsel. If a party objects to the judge’s continued participation in the case, the judge has the sole discretion to recuse or continue to preside.

Opinion 13-63 May a judge meet privately with the judge's state legislator to discuss pending legislation that proposes judicial upgrades for certain New York State courts?

Opinion 13-64 Although a judge is disqualified from presiding over matters involving his/her campaign treasurer’s law firm during the judge’s election campaign, the disqualification is subject to remittal.

Opinion 13-65 (1) Must a judge disqualify him/herself from all cases involving the [County] Sheriff's Office because the judge’s spouse is a Sergeant with the [County] Sheriff's Office Road Patrol? (2) Must a judge disqualify him/herself from certain "dangerous dog" cases and "civil cases involving damage from dogs" as a result of the judge’s outside employment with a health department's rabies prevention and treatment program?

Opinion 13-66 A part-time judge may not conduct a management study for the police department that appears in the judge’s court.

Opinion 13-67 May a judge speak at a luncheon sponsored by a local substance abuse treatment facility and attend an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony commemorating the opening of a new residence operated by the same treatment facility?

Opinion 13-68 May a full-time judge accompany his/her ailing, elderly parent to an eviction proceeding within the same courthouse where the judge presides?

Opinion 13-69 When is a judge required to report another part-time lawyer/judge for engaging in misconduct?

Opinion 13-70/13-74 A judge’s request that local authorities further investigate a crime that allegedly occurred in the court office, standing alone, does not rise to the level of a “substantial likelihood” that the judge has violated the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 13-71 The inquirer has become aware that another judge presided over a matter in which that judge's own current disciplinary counsel appeared; is reporting mandatory?

Opinion 13-72 A part-time attorney/judge who occasionally performs arraignments for a neighboring municipality’s court, but is not an “acting” member of that court and continues to sit as a judge of his/her own court when performing such arraignments, may be included on a list of attorneys who are willing to serve as compensated arbitrators in that municipality.

Opinion 13-73 A not-for-profit foundation whose members are almost exclusively attorneys, and which is devoted to improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice, is a “bar association” for purposes of the rule permitting judges to be speakers and guests of honor at bar association fund-raising events.

(Opinion 13-74 is part of Opinion 13-70/13-74, above.)

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Opinion 13-75 Must a judge disqualify him/herself in a criminal case on learning that the defendant filed a complaint against the judge with the Commission on Judicial Conduct?

Opinion 13-76 May a town justice include his/her judicial status: (a) in his/her law firm's advertisements; (b) in the biography he/she provides when speaking to or participating in bar association meetings; or (c) in the biography he/she provides when speaking to or participating in other groups, not related to the practice of law?

Opinion 13-77 An attorney has stated under oath that he/she falsely advised a client that the client's lawsuit was settled, and paid the client the purported settlement amount from the attorney's own personal funds; is reporting mandatory?

Opinion 13-78 May a judge permit his/her law clerk to continue working on cases prosecuted by the District Attorney's office while the law clerk is the District Attorney's opponent in the upcoming election?

Opinion 13-79 A judge may not participate as a presenter at a victim impact panel in the jurisdiction where the judge presides, but may participate in such a panel in another jurisdiction.

Opinion 13-80 A judge may preside over matters in which the judge’s summer intern’s parent’s law firm appears but must disclose the intern’s employment and insulate the intern from such matters.

Opinion 13-81 May a judge's spouse run for and hold the office of secretary for a county political party committee?

Opinion 13-82 A judge may not teach a law school course on the prosecution of a highly publicized local criminal case, where the criminal trial recently occurred in the judge’s jurisdiction and a related civil case is pending.

Opinion 13-83 A judge, who has obtained an Order of Protection against an individual based on the individual’s conduct during a recent appearance before the judge, must disqualify him/herself from matters involving the individual until the Order of Protection expires. Once it expires, the judge may preside over matters involving the individual, provided the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 13-84 A full-time judge may be a shareholder in a closely held consulting business owned by the judge’s non-attorney spouse, and may also be included in a family photograph that will be posted on the website or other advertisements for that business, provided that no reference is made to the judge’s judicial title or position and the judge does not appear in a judicial robe or setting.

Opinion 13-85 A part-time judge, retained as an expert witness, may include his/her judicial status in a curriculum vitae to be exchanged during discovery.

Opinion 13-86 Subject to certain limitations, a judge may provide head note style information about a judicial decision when submitting it to a law journal for possible publication.

Opinion 13-87 A judge may be one of several board members honored at a not-for-profit organization’s fund-raising event, provided that the judge’s participation is not advertised before the event. The judge may also provide names of individuals for the organization to invite to the event and may identify contacts who may be interested in a fund-raising leadership role, provided the judge instructs the organization not to use or refer to the judge’s name in the solicitation.

Opinion 13-88 Under the circumstances presented, a judge may not attend a party to celebrate the retirement of an individual who is currently a litigant in a matter pending in the judge’s court.

Opinion 13-89 May a judge include a photograph of him/herself, taken while wearing a judicial robe, on the back cover of a bench book the judge has authored?

Opinion 13-90 To what extent is a judge’s ability to preside in a county department’s cases affected where the judge’s second degree relative is the only attorney in the department who handles a certain class of cases?

(Inquiry 13-91 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 13-92 A judge must not meet privately with a local political party regarding the inner workings of the court, including its procedures, personnel or decisions.

Opinion 13-93 May a part-time judge obtain a "Watch Guard Patrol License" and operate his/her own security agency?

(Inquiry 13-94 did not result in a published opinion.)

(Inquiry 13-95 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 13-97 Must a judge exercise recusal in those cases in which the judge’s opponent in the upcoming election appears as an attorney?

Opinion 13-98 Under the circumstances presented, a part-time judge may accept paid employment as an assistant staff counsel to the Minority Conference of a county legislature, provided that (1) his/her actions are clearly identifiable as those of an attorney representing a client and not as partisan political activity; (2) he/she interacts directly with Minority Counsel in the performance of his/her duties, rather than with individual legislators or their constituents; and (3) he/she does not attend legislative sessions or Minority Caucuses or other political gatherings.

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Opinion 13-99/13-100/13-101/13-102 (1) Subject to certain limitations as set forth herein, a judicial candidate may pay to attend a political fund-raiser for which no tickets are sold and no standard admission price has been set. (2) A judicial candidate may purchase the lowest priced full-page campaign advertisement in a journal that will be distributed at a political party’s fund-raiser during the candidate’s window period, but may not pay a premium over that price for a more prominently displayed advertisement.

(Inquiry 13-103 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 13-104 What are a judge’s ethical obligations when attorneys from the law firm of the judge’s law clerk's relative's spouse appear before the judge?

Opinion 13-105  Is it ethically permissible for a judge to work as a bartender in a town that adjoins the town where the judge presides?

Opinion 13-106 Must a judge disqualify him/herself when an attorney with whom the judge has a social relationship appears in the judge’s court?

Opinion 13-107 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to serve as an officer for a club for alumni of the judge’s college?

Opinion 13-108 A judge whose spouse is a supervisor in the county probation department may preside over criminal matters in which the department participates, except that the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when probation officers under the direct supervision of the judge’s spouse participate in a matter.

Opinion 13-109 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit organization founded to raise money for scholarships and to purchase certain items for law enforcement purposes in honor of a deceased relative?

(Inquiry 13-110 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 13-111 May a full-time judge who is a candidate for re-election, witness signatures on the judge’s own nominating petitions as a Notary Public?

Opinion 13-112 What are a part-time judge’s ethical obligations with respect to his/her co-judge practicing law in the village court where the judge also presides?

Opinion 13-113 A full-time judge may accompany his/her close friends to a small claims proceeding in which the friends appear as parties, provided the judge sits in the audience, does not act as an attorney in the matter, does not have any ex parte contact with the judge presiding in the matter, and does not refer to or invoke his/her judicial office or otherwise lend the prestige of judicial office for the benefit of his/her friends. Under the circumstances presented, where the parties are unusually close friends whom the judge has known and treated as family for many decades, the judge may also provide them with uncompensated legal advice outside the courtroom.

Opinion 13-114 A judge need not disqualify him/herself when a litigant who is the niece/nephew (by marriage) of the judge’s first cousin (by marriage) appears in the judge’s court.

Opinion 13-115 Under the circumstances presented, a judge may attend and speak during a memorial service for a close personal friend who recently died, even though the friend is the judge’s former district party leader and the decedent’s county committee and party club will sponsor the memorial service.

Opinion 13-116 A Housing Court judge may speak at a meeting of a property owners’ organization about court procedures in landlord-tenant matters but must not discuss pending or impending cases; must not provide trial strategy or legal advice; and must otherwise ensure that his/her presentation does not compromise his/her apparent or actual impartiality and does not manifest a predisposition to decide a particular type or class of case a certain way. Before accepting this particular speaking engagement, the judge should also carefully consider whether he/she would also be willing, schedule permitting, to provide a similar lecture to a tenants’ organization on request.

Opinion 13-117 Is it ethically permissible for a Town Court to allow a Town Board member, who is involved in setting the judge’s salary and the court budget, to serve as a security officer in the court?

Opinion 13-118 Is a judge ethically obligated to further investigate allegations of impropriety by an attorney and report the alleged misconduct?

Opinion 13-119 Is it ethically permissible for a non-lawyer/town justice to accept a full time civil service position with the county Department of Motor Vehicles?

Opinion 13-120 Must a judge disqualify him/herself in matters involving two attorneys and their law firm because the judge testified, pursuant to a subpoena, at their disciplinary hearing eight years ago?

Opinion 13-121 A part-time judge may accept appointment as an arbitrator in a mandatory arbitration program established pursuant to the Rules of the Chief Judge in another local court of broader jurisdiction.

Opinion 13-122 The judges’ division of a specialized bar association that is dedicated to fighting a serious illness may approve a grant to a not-for-profit charitable organization which does not engage in lobbying, even if some of the money may be used to help train individuals to lobby for increased funding and improved health care.

Opinion 13-123 A judge may not use a title for his/her law-related book which suggests that the book is a partisan guide for law enforcement. However, the judge may lecture on legal topics covered in his/her book for audiences that consist primarily or exclusively of law enforcement personnel, provided that the judge does not manifest a predisposition to decide cases in a certain way, does not provide partisan advice on litigation strategy or how better to obtain convictions, and does not discuss the topic in a manner that would compromise the judge’s apparent or actual impartiality.

Opinion 13-124/13-125/13-128/13-129 (1) A judge may not meet privately with the public defender concerning implementation of a new counsel-at-arraignment program for indigent defendants unless the district attorney consents, but may meet jointly with the public defender and the district attorney to discuss such matters, and may attend an open forum concerning implementation of the program, provided that the district attorney is expressly invited to attend. (2) A judge may speak ex parte with a defendant on topics relevant to determine the defendant’s financial eligibility for the counsel-at-arraignment program, where the program is, by its terms, restricted to indigent defendants. (3) Provided that the district attorney is on notice that the counsel-at-arraignment program is in effect, the district attorney’s failure to send, designate or otherwise reasonably make available a representative to attend or participate in such arraignments, may be treated as implied consent for the judge to conduct such arraignments ex parte. (4) A judge may not accede to a public defender’s request that the judge should contact the defender’s office for representation under the counsel-at-arraignment program only in cases where bail may be imposed and incarceration is a possibility.

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Opinion 13-126 During the applicable window period, a judicial candidate may use an email signature block on his/her personal email which requests non-financial support from voters and provides links to the campaign committee’s social media page and campaign website.

Opinion 13-127 A court attorney referee who heard testimony in a matrimonial matter about an attorney’s personal use of client funds must determine whether he/she has substantial knowledge that the attorney committed a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and, if so, must take appropriate action.

(Opinion 13-128 is part of Opinion 13-124/13-125/13-128/13-129, above.)

(Opinion 13-129 is part of Opinion 13-124/13-125/13-128/13-129, above.)

Opinion 13-130 A part-time judge may not maintain simultaneous employment as a pistol permit clerk in the local sheriff’s department.

Opinion 13-131 A town or village justice may permit a local constable to serve as a part-time court security officer, but not as a court interpreter 

Opinion 13-132 (1) A judge whose sibling, grandparent, or grandchild is a criminal defendant need not advise the District Attorney of his/her relationship to the defendant and should not make any unnecessary, voluntary disclosure of the relationship while the litigation is pending. (2) When a private attorney who is currently representing the judge’s sibling, grandparent, or grandchild appears before the judge, the judge is disqualified subject to remittal while the representation is ongoing. For the first two years after the representation is fully concluded, disclosure is mandatory when that attorney appears before the judge but disqualification is in the judge’s sole discretion. 

Opinion 13-133 Principal law clerks who are appointed to serve part-time as SCAR hearing officers during regular court hours as part of their job responsibilities are subject to the same restrictions as sitting judges with respect to political activities.

Opinion 13-134 (1) A judge who regularly presides over criminal matters in which members of the local Fraternal Order of Police appear must not be a member or officer of the organization; must not attend the organization’s monthly dinner meetings; and must likewise prohibit his/her personal appointees from being members or officers of the organization and attending the organization’s monthly meetings. (2) The judge may, as he/she proposes, attend fund-raising events held by the local Fraternal Order of Police in support of a charity as a paying guest; contribute financially to the organization without joining as a member; and contribute to the organization’s charity drives. The judge need not prohibit his/her personal appointees from undertaking similar charitable efforts in connection with the organization, if they wish to do so.

Opinion 13-135 A judge whose room reservation was dishonored by a hotel and who accepted the hotel’s routine offer to re-book him/her elsewhere at the hotel’s expense, is not ethically obligated to take any further action.

Opinion 13-136 (1) Judges who attend an educational program sponsored by the Office of Court Administration and hosted by a law school may accept reimbursement from the law school host, if offered, for the actual and reasonable costs of travel, food and lodging associated with attending the program. (2) Judges may attend an education program sponsored by the Office of Court Administration and hosted by a law school that is financed by donations the law school host solicits from law school alumni, law firms, and businesses or business groups.

Opinion 13-137/13-152/13-153 (1) A judicial candidate’s participation in a joint advertisement, prepared on behalf of a slate of judicial and non-judicial candidates, is not rendered impermissible merely because the advertisement characterizes the slate as a “team” and urges voters to vote for particular row(s) on the ballot on which the slate appears. (2) Use of disclaimer language indicating that the judicial candidate is not publicly endorsing other candidates is not mandatory for any judicial candidate.

Opinion 13-138 (1) A judge should not appoint as his/her personal law clerk an individual whose police officer spouse supervises an investigative unit that is involved in half of the criminal cases on the court’s calendar; (2) a judge formerly employed by the Department of Social Services as an attorney may preside over cases in which the agency appears, provided that the judge was not previously involved in the case.

Opinion 13-139 A judge may attend a non-political retirement celebration for an elected official, even if there is a charge for admission.

Opinion 13-140 A judge may address a civilian complaint review board on the law of search and seizure and arrest procedures, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 13-141 A full-time judge must not serve as a friend’s health care agent unless he/she obtains the Chief Administrative Judge’s approval under Section 100.4(E)(1).

Opinion 13-142 A judge who presides in a collaborative problem-solving court may, on behalf of his/her court, accept an award and associated monetary grant to the court from a not-for-profit organization at a non-fund-raising event and may make appropriate remarks to express appreciation for the award.

Opinion 13-143 A judge who is not in his/her window period may attend a victory party for a newly elected co-judge, even though the party is separate and distinct from the co-judge’s swearing-in ceremony, provided that the party is paid for solely with personal funds.

Opinion 13-144 The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit a court attorney-referee from running for and, if elected, also serving as a part-time town or village justice.

Opinion 13-145 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to present a continuing legal education program in the judge’s courtroom in conjunction with a local Bar Association where the for-profit co-sponsor is potentially a fiduciary in one of the judge’s cases?

Opinion 13-146 A judge who learns that his/her co-judge has provided professional assistance to one side in connection with an ongoing matter that originated in the judges’ court, and over which the co-judge personally presided at an earlier stage, must report the co-judge to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 13-147 A judge may proctor a friend’s engineering certification exam, where the certifying organization lists “government official” as one of several categories of acceptable proctors.

Opinion 13-148 A full-time judge may serve as Supervising Judge of the criminal trial courts in the same judicial district where the judge’s adult emancipated child is a non-supervising felony prosecutor.

Opinion 13-149 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to co-author an op-ed article, which will include the judge’s name and title, supporting the passage of certain legislation?

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Opinion 13-150 When a part-time judge is appointed to a full-time judicial position in the same court, is there a waiting period before part-time lawyer judges who preside in other courts in the county may appear before him/her? Once the judge discontinues his/her law practice, is there a waiting period before the judge's former law firm colleagues may appear before his/her co-judges?

Opinion 13-151 Under the circumstances presented, the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit a court attorney-referee from accepting a gift from long-time former clients who live overseas and have divested themselves of their New York real estate holdings and with whom the court attorney-referee established a warm personal rapport during their prior professional relationship.

(Opinion 13-152 is part of Opinion 13-137/13-152/13-153, above.)

(Opinion 13-153 is part of Opinion 13-137/13-152/13-153, above.)

(Inquiry 13-154 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 13-155 Is it ethically permissible for a full-time judge to serve on a community college advisory board which is being created to assist the college's paralegal and police science programs?

Opinion 13-156 May a judge appear in a family video which will be presented in the judge’s sibling's honor at the annual meeting of a social welfare action organization which engages in lobbying?

Opinion 13-157 May a judge preside over cases brought by the county agency where the judge previously served as a high ranking county attorney for the agency?

Opinion 13-158 Subject to certain limitations, a judge may participate in creating and producing a video to provide information about the history and “current capabilities” of the court where the judge serves. He/she may also invite other judges to appear in the video.

Opinion 13-159 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to serve on a committee that "reviews, interprets, and advises on Church matters and doctrines"?

Opinion 13-160 Is it ethically permissible for a part-time judge to serve as a town justice in one county and a part-time clerk in a village court in a different county?

Opinion 13-161 A judge may serve as a deacon in his/her church and may stand at designated locations with other deacons and hold a plate or basket for the collection of tithes and offerings, provided the judge does not participate in the actual solicitation of funds.

Opinion 13-162 A judge who co-owns a rental building with an attorney may not preside over matters in which his/her co-owner appears, unless there is remittal of disqualification. 

Opinion 13-163 May a judge preside over matters involving code violations when the Village Code Enforcement Officer also serves as a Town Board member?

Opinion 13-164 A newly elected full-time judge, who was involved in two final accountings as a court-appointed fiduciary before assuming the bench, may respond to requests from the appointing court for additional information or revisions and may contact the appointing court to determine the status of a previously requested order, but must complete his/her service or secure a substitute within one year after assuming the bench, if possible.

Opinion 13-165 A part-time judge, who is a member of a bank’s advisory board, may publicize the bank’s current promotion, in which customers who are referred by a member of the advisory board will receive $100, provided he/she does not identify him/herself as a judge or otherwise use his/her judicial title in connection with this commercial activity.

Opinion 13-166/13-166(A) (1) A judge may serve on a special act school district’s board of education, where the district is not a taxing authority, its budget is not subject to public referendum, its members are not subject to public election, and the judge’s court does not make referrals to the district’s facilities. (2) A judge may serve on the board of trustees of a not-for-profit entity which is the parent organization of a residential treatment center whose child residents attend a special school district, provided that the judge’s court makes no referrals to the organization.

Opinion 13-167 A part-time lawyer judge may refer potential clients to his/her tenant, who is also an attorney, subject to certain limitations.

(Inquiry 13-168 was withdrawn.)

(Opinion 13-169 is part of Opinion 13-51/13-169, above.)

Opinion 13-170 Is it permissible for a full-time city court judge to preside over all aspects of the civil part of the court in light of his/her spouse's recent election to the city council?

Opinion 13-171 Because the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not require an administrative judge to inform another judge that he/she has received a copy of a disciplinary complaint filed against the other judge, that decision is left entirely to the administrative judge’s discretion.

Opinion 13-172 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who is the spouse of a broker that the judge's spouse has engaged to sell a home?

Opinion 13-173 Does a judge have an ethical obligation to report an unidentified, unlicensed law school graduate who allegedly assisted, for remuneration, a pro se litigant in preparing a memorandum of law in support of a motion (also known as "ghostwriting")?

Opinion 13-174 What are a judge's obligations when his/her former law clerk, who is now employed by an agency which regularly appears before in the judge's court, appears before him/her?

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Opinion 13-175 A judge is not disqualified from presiding over petitions prepared and filed by his/her successor in the County Attorney’s office, merely because these petitions rely on documents filed by another government official or department while the judge was employed as County Attorney.

Opinion 13-176  In a case where the attorney for the child is the judge’s personal appointee’s spouse, the judge must disclose the relationship and insulate his/her personal appointee. Provided that no party is appearing pro se and assuming the judge concludes that he/she can be fair and impartial, the judge may preside in the case, except that the judge may not approve any payment voucher the attorney for the child submits. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 13-177 Provided the judge can remain fair and impartial and absent any other factor requiring disqualification, a part-time town or village justice who also serves as a county court judge’s law clerk may continue to preside in matters that involve legal issues the county court judge has addressed in an appellate capacity.

Opinion 13-178 A judge who owns a home in a multi-unit building may publicly express his/her views on a proposal by building maintenance employees to unionize, provided the judge does so in his/her capacity as a private citizen and does not use judicial stationery or otherwise refer to his/her judicial office.

Opinion 13-179 A judge may swear in an attorney to another state’s bar, where the other state’s board of bar examiners lists judges as one of several categories of acceptable witnesses.

Opinion 13-180 May a part-time town justice serve as town attorney in a different town from the one in which the judge presides?

Opinion 13-181 May a judge continue to receive health insurance benefits temporarily from his/her former employer to cover the gap in coverage before his/her new health benefits commence?

Opinion 13-182 A part-time judge who also serves as a full-time principal law clerk to Judge B (1) may preside in cases where another part-time attorney judge, other than a co-judge, appears; but (2) is disqualified, subject to remittal, from cases where Judge B’s sibling appears.

Opinion 13-183 A judge may permit the local prosecutor to access court files in the same manner as all other attorneys and members of the public, in accordance with applicable law.

(Inquiry 13-184 did not result in a published opinion.)

Opinion 13-185 May a judge purchase tickets and attend a fund raising dinner for an organization which supports victims of child abuse and helps prepare them for court appearances?

Opinion 13-186 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney whose child practices law in association with the judge's child?

Opinion 13-187 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to participate in and critique a mock settlement conference to be held as part of a private law firm's associate training program?

Opinion 13-188 A judge may permit his/her court attorney to commence a special proceeding to remove a public officer, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 13-189/14-02 May a judges' association publicly support repeal of a controversial gun control law in its entirety, or the repeal or amendment of specific statutory provisions which affect the administration of justice? May an individual judge publicly support the repeal or amendment of provisions of a controversial gun control law that directly affects the judge’s own personal interests?

Opinion 13-190 May a full-time judge be a director of a foreign timeshare cooperative association, in which the judge owns a fractional interest?

Opinion 13-191 May a judge refer a defendant, as part of his/her sentencing, to the “Alive at 25" program?

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Numerical Listing of 2014 Opinions

[Jump to 20092010, 201120122013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022]

Opinion 14-01 Whether a judge may preside over an arraignment, in which a defendant is not represented by counsel, raises primarily legal questions; however, if a judge acts in conformity with governing law the judge will not violate the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

(Opinion 14-02 is part of Opinion 13-189/14-02, above.)

Opinion 14-03 A full-time judge may serve as the executor of a parent’s estate, and may give uncompensated legal advice to his/her parent, but may not serve as the attorney for the estate.

Opinion 14-04 May a judge who was previously employed at a local high school in a small community preside in matters in which former students or their family members appear?

Opinion 14-05 It is impermissible to host a court website on a social network that will display third-party advertisements in connection with the court’s page.

Opinion 14-06 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to apply and interview for the position of town attorney for the town where the judge presides without first resigning his/her judgeship?

Opinion 14-07 A judge who formerly served in a high-ranking supervisory position in the county attorney's office, and thus frequently represented a county agency in neglect and abuse proceedings, either personally or through assistant county attorneys subject to his/her supervision: (1) is disqualified from presiding over any proceedings commenced or prosecuted by the county attorney's office during the judge's employment in a high-ranking supervisory capacity, and remittal is unavailable, but (2) may preside over other matters involving individuals who were previously respondents in neglect and abuse proceedings brought by the judge or assistant county attorneys subject to the judge's supervision, subject to certain limitations. Where the judge's current law clerk was also an assistant county attorney in the same office, the judge must insulate the law clerk from certain matters. 

Opinion 14-08 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to participate in a local public radio station's on-air fund drives?

Opinion 14-09 Under the specific circumstances presented, a judge who issued a decision on a novel legal issue may not attend a presentation at a bar association function at which the judge’s decision will be singled out for discussion by an individual associated with one side of the case, while the case is pending or impending. Once the case is no longer pending or impending, however, the judge may attend such a program.

Opinion 14-10 A judge who formerly served as the District Attorney for the county where the judge presides (1) is disqualified from presiding over any cases that were pending in the District Attorney's office during the judge's term as District Attorney and remittal is unavailable, but (2) may preside over matters involving individuals who were previously investigated or prosecuted by the District Attorney's office during the judge's term as District Attorney, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 14-11 A judge who has sued the Public Defender is disqualified, subject to remittal, in matters where the Public Defender personally appears, but may preside in matters where assistant public defenders subject to the Public Defender’s supervision appear. [Note: Modified by Opinion 20-63 re: judge’s obligation with respect to adverse party or counsel after the litigation terminates.]

Opinion 14-12 Although a judge may advise a defendant orally of all his/her options, including the right to plead not guilty and proceed to trial, and may permit the prosecutor to offer the defendant any plea agreement that the prosecutor considers appropriate under the circumstances, the judge may not sua sponte advise defendants of a specific plea agreement the judge anticipates the prosecutor will offer and explain its purported advantages.

Opinion 14-13 Under the unique facts presented, a judge who sold his/her former law office telephone number to an attorney for a lump sum must disclose the business transaction when the purchasing attorney appears before the judge, for a one-year period following receipt of payment.

Opinion 14-14 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to preside when members of the Public Defender's office appear before the judge when the Public Defender and the judge are co-counsel in another court?

Opinion 14-15 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to serve as a volunteer advisor and member of a special and planned gifts committee of a community college foundation?

Opinion 14-16 Is it ethically permissible for the Board of a County Bar Association, which includes several judges, to send a letter to the Chief Judge of the State of New York, voicing the Association's opinion about a proposed change in the Chief Administrator's rules governing attorney registration?

Opinion 14-17 A judge may, to the extent permitted by law, amend his/her prior order to correct an error or omission that has been brought to the judge’s attention and may send the amended order to all parties entitled to a copy of the order, along with an appropriate cover letter.

Opinion 14-18 Is it ethically permissible for a part-time judge to be employed as a zoning code official in a town 30 miles away from the town in which the judge presides as town justice?

Opinion 14-19 A judge may not collect DNA samples from convicted defendants.

Opinion 14-20 A supervising judge should not permit a local medical professional, who is an expert in child abuse and who regularly consults with and testifies as an expert on behalf of the District Attorney and/or the Department of Social Services, to present a judicial training on child abuse to Family Court judges who preside in the supervising judge’s district.

(Inquiry 14-21 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 14-22 May a judge preside over cases in which the judge's former colleagues at a public law office appear as counsel once the judge becomes a full time judge and resigns his/her position in that office?

Opinion 14-23 A full-time judge who has independently written, published, marketed, and sold a bench book online is not prohibited from also selling the book directly to the Unified Court System’s Office of Court Administration.

Opinion 14-24 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to be an advertised guest of honor at a law school fund-raising event?

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Opinion 14-25 Is it ethically permissible for a judge, the Public Defender, assistant district attorney, various defense attorneys and certain court personnel to dine together approximately three to six times a year to celebrate birthdays?

Opinion 14-26 Under these specific, limited circumstances, a judge may attend a CLE education program where the judge’s decision on a novel legal issue will be discussed, even if the matter remains pending or impending, but the judge may not write a law review article in which he/she discusses the rationale behind the decision as well as its potential impact on future decisions.

Opinion 14-27 (1) Ordinarily, for a period of one year after a judge’s personal law clerk leaves the judge’s employ to join a private law firm, the judge must fully disclose the former relationship when the former law clerk’s current law firm colleagues appear in the judge’s court. After disclosure, the judge has the discretion to grant or deny any subsequent request for recusal based on all the facts of the relationship and the particular case. However, if any party is proceeding without legal representation in the case, the judge must not preside. (2) Where the former law clerk is a salaried, non-equity employee of the law firm, however, if the law firm demonstrates to the judge’s satisfaction it has taken steps to ensure the judge’s former law clerk is completely insulated from all of the firm’s cases litigated in the judge’s court for a period of one year from the date the law clerk’s court employment with the judge ended, the judge may thereafter preside in matters involving the law firm without incurring any obligation to disclose the former law clerk’s employment with the firm. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 14-28 A part-time judge may serve as counsel to a nearby town and, in such capacity, provide legal advice to the town board, attend town board meetings, and defend the town in tax certiorari proceedings brought in Supreme Court.

Opinion 14-29 A judge may not hold a leadership role in a “non-partisan feminist coalition” which advocates for and influences legislative and social policy affecting women and children but may be a regular member of the organization and may also, subject to certain limitations, attend meetings or events and make contributions to the organization.

Opinion 14-30 A judge who listed an attorney as a reference in the judge’s application for appointment or re-appointment need not disclose that fact and is not thereby disqualified from cases in which that attorney appears or that attorney’s partners and/or associates appear, provided the judge can be fair and impartial. The judge is not prohibited from appointing the attorney or his/her partners and/or associates to positions for which the attorney is eligible or his/her partners and/or associates are eligible, provided the judge exercises the power of appointment impartially and on the basis of merit

Opinion 14-31 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to lecture, as part of a training program for appellate and trial prosecutors, on effective and ineffective techniques when litigating in the Appellate Division, when only prosecutors and law enforcement personnel will be in attendance?

Opinion 14-32 (1) Where a prospective witness and alleged victim in a criminal case is the presiding judge’s former client on a single unrelated misdemeanor case that concluded more than five years ago, and the case currently before the judge will be tried by a jury, the judge has no obligation to disclose the former representation or disqualify him/herself from the criminal case. (2) Where a prospective witness and alleged victim in a criminal case was formerly a respondent in a case the judge prosecuted in his/her former capacity as a government attorney, and there is no substantial connection between the circumstances underlying the prior case and the facts and legal issues of the criminal case, the judge has no obligation to disclose the former adversarial relationship or disqualify him/herself from the criminal case.

Opinion 14-33 A judge may not, at the request of a friend who is seeking permission from a government agency to enter a foreign country, provide a letter of recommendation for submission to the government agency.

Opinion 14-34 Under the circumstances presented, where the judge has made a good-faith interpretation of governing law concerning the appointment of counsel for indigent defendants, it would be inappropriate for the judge to defer to an inconsistent legal interpretation offered by another branch of government which would require the judge to participate in conduct the judge has concluded is unlawful.

Opinion 14-35 A full-time judge may discuss the Bill of Rights at a public school teachers’ conference, and accept an honorarium from a not-for-profit organization.

Opinion 14-36 A town/village justice may not preside during an arraignment at which a town or village board member, who participates in setting the judge’s salary, appears as the prosecution’s sole representative.

Opinion 14-37 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to write articles about legal procedure for quarterly publication in a local newspaper with limited circulation?

Opinion 14-38 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to accompany his/her sibling, a pro-se litigant, to court in another state?

Opinion 14-39 (1) A judge, having learned that an attorney on a case is under indictment, but having no personal knowledge of the underlying circumstances, is not required to report the attorney to the attorney disciplinary authority. (2) As the judge has concluded he/she can decide the case before him/her without reference to this information, the judge need not make any disclosure to other attorneys on the case.

Opinion 14-40/14-43 A judge who is a member of a bar association’s judicial section may permit non-judge members of the bar association to ask law firms and other private entities to underwrite certain events which the bar association sponsors each year for the judicial section.

Opinion 14-41 A judge may purchase tickets and attend a fund-raising dinner for a not-for-profit organization that provides assistance and advocates for victims of domestic violence, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct.

Opinion 14-42 What is a judge’s ethical obligation when a local Medical Center, which employs a member of the judge’s family who resides in the judge’s household, appears before the judge?

(Opinion 14-43 is part of Opinion 14-40/14-43, above.)

Opinion 14-44 May a part-time town justice also maintain employment as an investigator for the county Department of Social Services?

Opinion 14-45 A judge may accept an unannounced award at a college’s fund-raising event; may be identified during and after the event as an award recipient, including on the brochures or programs distributed at the event; and may be listed as a past award recipient on the college’s website once the event is concluded.

Opinion 14-46 A full-time quasi-judicial official may serve as a coach for a local public school’s sports team and accept the reasonable compensation offered, subject to applicable reporting requirements.

Opinion 14-47 May a judge preside in problem-solving court cases when the judge’s former client, from the judge’s prior service as a public service attorney, appears? 

Opinion 14-48 May a judge permit his/her third-degree relative to serve as an unpaid summer intern in the judge’s chambers?

Opinion 14-49 A judge, quasi-judicial official, or candidate for election to judicial office may not attend a not-for-profit organization’s fund-raising event, where the theme of the event, as promoted by the organization, is an exhortation for attendees to “repeal or disregard” a particular statute.

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Opinion 14-50 A judge is not required to take any action in furtherance of his/her disciplinary responsibilities merely because a law enforcement officer has, in the course of testifying about possible criminal activity on the part of a criminal defendant, mentioned the names of one or more attorney(s) and judge(s).

Opinion 14-51 (1) For two years after entry of judgment in the trial phase of a judge’s second-degree relative’s criminal proceedings, provided the judge determines he/she can be fair and impartial, disclosure is mandated in lieu of disqualification when any prosecutor or defender who was personally involved at the trial phase appears before the judge on unrelated matters. If, after disclosure, a party objects to the judge presiding, the judge has discretion whether to recuse after considering all relevant factors. After the two-year period ends, the judge is not ethically required to disclose or recuse when these attorneys appear, provided he/she can be fair and impartial. (2) The judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when an attorney who is personally involved in handling the judge’s relative’s appeal of the conviction appears, until entry of judgment on the appeal. For two years after entry of judgment on the appeal, disclosure is mandated in lieu of disqualification for the specific attorneys involved. After the two-year period, the judge has no further obligation, provided he/she can be fair and impartial. (3) The judge need not disclose or recuse when the assistant public defender who was initially appointed to represent the judge’s relative on appeal appears, as the attorney’s involvement in the judge’s relative’s case was brief and preliminary in nature. 

Opinion 14-52 A judge may permit an author to observe proceedings in the judge’s courtroom and write about them and about the individuals involved, and may respond to the author’s general questions about the court and its legal procedures; provided the judge does not comment on pending or impending cases or otherwise act in a manner that causes the judge’s impartiality to reasonably be questioned.

Opinion 14-53 An attorney who is a part-time town judge may practice law as partner of an attorney who is a part-time village prosecutor, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 14-54 May a judge be honored at his/her law school's Alumni Association Golf Outing which is held to raise money for the law school's scholarship fund?

Opinion 14-55 A judge who is called as a witness in a criminal case concerning threats allegedly made against the judge may continue to preside over unrelated matters involving the attorneys who are prosecuting or defending that criminal case, provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial in the matters before him/her.

Opinion 14-56 May a town judge preside over a matter involving an individual who is a former domestic partner of an official of the town in which the judge presides?

Opinion 14-57 May a part-time lawyer judge ask the clerk of a village justice court to assign all cases in which the judge represents a client to the non-lawyer acting village justice?

Opinion 14-58 When a pro se criminal defendant files a multi-million dollar lien against a judge’s property and the sole basis for the lien filing is the judge’s performance of his/her official judicial duties: (1) the judge may take all lawful steps necessary to clear his/her title and may pursue all lawful avenues to put an end to the vexatious lien filing; (2) it is not unethical for the judge to use the court’s clerical and other resources to assist in preparing a pro se expungement proceeding; and (3) the judge may continue to preside in the criminal case, provided the judge determines he/she can be fair and impartial, a matter confined solely to the conscience of the particular judge.

Opinion 14-59 A judge need not disclose that his/her minor children work part-time as babysitters for the children of an attorney who appears in the judge's court and need not disqualify him/herself when the attorney appears.

Opinion 14-60 (1) A judge whose first-degree relative has been arraigned on criminal charges is disqualified, subject to remittal, when a prosecutor who is personally involved in the criminal case appears before the judge. This obligation persists until entry of judgment. For two years after entry of judgment, disclosure is mandated in lieu of disqualification when a prosecutor who was personally involved in the trial phase appears before the judge on unrelated matters. If, after disclosure, a party objects to the judge presiding, the judge has discretion whether to recuse after considering all relevant factors. After the two-year period ends, the judge is not ethically required to disclose or recuse when these attorneys appear, provided he/she can be fair and impartial. (2) The judge need not disclose or recuse when other prosecutors from the same office appear before the judge, provided they are not personally involved in the criminal case against the judge’s relative and further provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial. This result does not change merely because the assistant district attorney appearing before the judge is subject to the supervision of a more senior prosecutor who is personally involved in prosecuting the judge’s first-degree relative. (3) The same principles apply at each stage of the criminal proceedings: the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, for all attorneys who are personally involved in that stage of the proceedings, until entry of judgment for that stage of the proceedings; and disclosure is mandatory for two years after entry of judgment when the attorneys involved in that phase appear before the judge.

Opinion 14-61 (1) A town or village judge who until recently was employed as a secretary in the local prosecutor’s office: (a) must not preside in any case that was pending in the local prosecutor’s office during the period of his/her employment and (b) is disqualified, subject to remittal, when his/her former supervisor appears, for one year after the employment relationship ends. During this one-year period, the judge may not preside over matters in which his/her former employer appears if any party to the matter is proceeding without legal representation. (2) A town or village judge who was employed as a secretary in the District Attorney’s office more than four years ago must not preside in any case that was pending in that office during the period of the judge’s employment but, otherwise, has no obligation to disclose or recuse as a result of the former employment. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 14-62 A judge may preside over a case where a party currently appearing before him/her is also an attorney who regularly appears before the judge, provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial. The judge does not thereby incur any obligation to disclose or disqualify him/herself in other matters in which the attorney or his/her law firm appears.

Opinion 14-63 A city court judge who is appointed by a body of city officials that includes the mayor may preside in a case where the mayor, or the mayor’s relative, appears as an attorney representing a private party, provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 14-64  An appellate judge whose first-degree relative is a law enforcement officer with supervisory responsibilities within the jurisdiction of the judge’s court may preside over cases in which the law enforcement agency appears, provided that he/she can be fair and impartial, and the judge need not investigate whether any officer involved in an arrest was the relative’s subordinate. If the judge becomes aware that an officer involved in the case reports to the judge’s relative, the judge should exercise his/her discretion in determining whether disqualification is required in the specific case before him/her.

Opinion 14-65 May a town justice preside in a case involving the Town Highway Superintendent?

Opinion 14-66 A part-time judge who is also a high-level employee of the county government: (1) may allocate funds annually to the probation department’s probation employment program, provided it does not result in the judge’s frequent disqualification; (2) must not personally participate in the solicitation of funds, but may manage other county employees who will engage in such solicitations on behalf of the county office or department for which the judge works; and (3) may meet with elected officials to advocate for maintenance of services to a particular category of individuals, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 14-67 A full-time judge is not required to file a report under Section 100.4(H) with respect to interest income, investment income, or compensation for legal work performed before he/she became a full-time judge.

Opinion 14-68 A town or village justice need not prohibit the court clerk from engaging in charitable fund-raising on his/her own time and away from court premises.

Opinion 14-69 It is ethically permissible for a judge to suggest that his/her wedding guests consider contributing to a charity of the guests’ choice in lieu of giving a wedding gift where the judge also asks the guests to omit any reference to his/her judicial title when sending the donation.

Opinion 14-70 May a judge continue as a member of the advisory board of a hospital and as a member of the Rotary Club?

Opinion 14-71 Is it ethically permissible for a part-time judge to lease certain real property the judge owns to a business entity, where the entity's proposed use of the judge’s property will require obtaining certain approvals from the municipality where the property is located and could also lead to public hearings concerning the proposal?

Opinion 14-72 Where the town board does not participate in setting the village court’s budget or its justice’s salary, and when members of the town board appear in the village court, a village justice’s impartiality cannot reasonably be questioned simply because the town board pays a portion of the village court’s clerical expenses.

Opinion 14-73 A judge may write an unsolicited letter to a federal executive branch employee expressing appreciation for the employee’s professionalism, based on the judge’s personal knowledge, and may use his/her judicial stationery marked “personal and unofficial.”

Opinion 14-74 A full-time judge may accept free admission to a continuing legal education seminar offered by a private legal training organization that is owned and/or operated by an attorney who has not appeared, and is not likely to appear, in the judge’s court, subject to a reporting requirement if the value of the gift exceeds $150. In the event that the attorney later appears in the judge’s court, the judge’s obligation is to disclose the gift for a reasonable period of time following the seminar, and the length of such period of time is left entirely to the judge’s discretion after consideration of all relevant factors.

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Opinion 14-75 Must a town justice disqualify him/herself when a law partner or associate attorney from a town board member's law firm appears in the judge’s court?

Opinion 14-76 May a full-time judge perform additional, unexpected duties as the receiver for a matter the judge thought had been concluded before the judge assumed the bench?

Opinion 14-77 A judge may volunteer for a not-for-profit organization devoted to honoring fallen police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel, where the judge’s proposed volunteer work will relate only to firefighters and medical personnel, and not to police officers.

Opinion 14-78 If a Surrogate determines that an interested party is legally in default, remittal of disqualification may be achieved without informing the defaulting party of the basis of the disqualification, and without obtaining the consent of the defaulting party.

Opinion 14-79 May a judge adopt a policy requiring parties to an action to appear before the judge for allocution and explanation before entering into an out-of-court stipulation, when one of the parties is unrepresented?

Opinion 14-80 A part-time lawyer/judge may not assist a long-time client and family friend with a case pending before another part-time lawyer/judge in the same county.

Opinion 14-81 Neither disqualification nor disclosure is required solely because a party appearing before the judge is the judge’s judicial colleague’s spouse.

Opinion 14-82 A part-time judge may join a law firm, even though two of the judge’s prospective partners or associates also practice law part-time with a second law firm that provides indigent defense services in the same county where the judge presides, provided the attorneys (a) will not practice law in the judge’s court and (b) will not share fees earned for their indigent defense work with the judge’s prospective law firm.

Opinion 14-83 What avenues of relief may a judge ethically pursue in response to actions the judge believes to be harassing and bullying?

Opinion 14-84  A town justice is disqualified, subject to remittal where applicable, in cases involving a store owned by a town board member who participates in setting the judge’s salary and the court’s budget.

Opinion 14-85 (1) A judge may not provide a testimonial for the judge’s former campaign manager to use in advertisements, but may permit the former campaign manager to provide the judge’s name as a reference to prospective clients, subject to certain limitations. (2) A judge who serves as a director of a not-for-profit organization may not allow the judge’s name to be listed with the names of other directors on the organization’s fund-raising brochure. The judge may, however, allow the organization to acknowledge the judge’s donation on the brochure by listing the judge’s name along with the names of other similarly situated donors. Note: This opinion has been modified to the extent it suggests “the formatting must be ‘identical’ to the organization’s regular letterhead” in order for section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(iv) to apply (Opinion 15-219).

Opinion 14-86 A judge who, in the course of presiding over a criminal case, learns that the judge who arraigned the defendant and signed a securing order had also signed the underlying criminal complaint, must report the arraigning judge to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 14-87 May a judge provide criminal defendants, who resolve their cases at arraignment with a disposition that does not include jail time, with a card that lists multiple resources for help with alcohol and drug addiction, along with the Internet address for a public library website that lists a variety of social services available to the formerly incarcerated?

Opinion 14-88 A judge who learns an attorney appearing before him/her pro se has testified under oath that he/she used a fictitious bank account to shield his/her law firm income from court-ordered child support payments, must report the attorney to the attorney grievance committee. Thereafter, the judge must disqualify him/herself from any case in which the attorney appears during the pendency of the disciplinary proceeding and for two years thereafter. Remittal is unavailable unless the attorney waives confidentiality or the grievance committee issues a public disciplinary decision.

Opinion 14-89 A judge may form a general partnership with his/her first cousins that will operate as an investment club, where the club will invest solely the financial resources of the judge and his/her cousins.

Opinion 14-90 A judge’s social relationship with the deputy director of a legal services organization does not, alone, require disqualification or disclosure when the deputy director’s subordinates appear before the judge.

Opinion 14-91 A judge may preside in matters involving a local prosecutor who maintains office space in the same building as the judge, where neither of them owns the building, they are not associated in the practice of law, and they have no landlord/tenant or other business relationship with each other.

Opinion 14-92/14-94 For purposes of calculating the start of the applicable Window Period, a candidate for elective judicial office may count back nine months from the date of the earliest official party meeting at which a candidate will be informally designated or endorsed for the position.

Opinion 14-93 A judge (1) may be honored as a distinguished alumnus/alumna at a college’s fund-raising event, provided the judge’s participation is not advertised prior to the event and the judge’s name is not listed in advance on invitations or announcements; (2) may permit the college to include information about the judge in a journal that will be distributed to guests during (but not before) the event; (3) may participate in the college’s recruitment efforts by participating in a video recording in which the judge will discuss his/her memories of the college and its impact on his/her career and provide a message to this year’s graduates; (4) may permit the college to play the video recording during the gala fund-raising event and thereafter post it on the college’s website, provided the video is used for general promotion of the college and/or recruitment of students, but not fund-raising.

(Opinion 14-94 is part of Opinion 14-92/14-94, above.)

Opinion 14-95 A judge who is a candidate for judicial office may attend an event sponsored by a not-for-profit political organization only during his/her Window Period, but may not make donations, attend meetings, become a member, hold a leadership position, or participate in the organization in other ways.

Opinion 14-96 May a judge preside in a particular uncontested matter, in which the parties are a judge and his/her spouse with whom the judge has had very limited social interaction over the years?

Opinion 14-97 A judge who is a retired law enforcement officer may join a national not-for-profit fraternal organization for retired and active law enforcement officers to take advantage of discounted medical and life insurance and retirement benefits for which the judge is eligible due to his/her former employment.

Opinion 14-98 Under the circumstances presented, a part-time lawyer judge may enter into an agreement with a private company to provide security and marketing services as a subcontractor, even though the private company has a separate contractual relationship with a not-for-profit organization whose counsel regularly appears before the judge.

Opinion 14-99 What topics is a judge ethically permitted to discuss on a local radio station and public access shows?

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Opinion 14-100 Under the circumstances described, a Surrogate may, in his/her discretion, participate in meetings with the local public administrator and court personnel to the extent he/she deems necessary to discharge his/her statutory oversight functions.

(Inquiry 14-101 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 14-102 A judge may preside in matters involving an attorney who was initially appointed as Attorney for the Child in the judge’s relative’s custody proceeding, as the attorney’s involvement in the judge’s relative’s case was brief and preliminary in nature. The judge may also appoint the attorney to positions for which the attorney is eligible, provided that the judge does so impartially and on the basis of merit.

Opinion 14-103 (1) A judge is not ethically required to take any action in discharge of his/her disciplinary responsibilities, where the judge’s sole source of knowledge of wrongdoing on the part of an attorney is the fact that the attorney has agreed to an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal of certain charges against the attorney. (2) A judge may attest to and affirm facts within his/her personal knowledge and observation, including the judge’s recollection of witnessing the execution of a family member’s testamentary instrument, and the judge’s recognition of certain signatures or handwriting on the instrument.

Opinion 14-104 A judge who is also employed as an adjunct law school professor and co-director of a law school program may participate in a promotional video that will be displayed on the program’s website.

Opinion 14-105 May a judge continue to preside over a criminal case, where the defendant, who identifies him/herself as a member of the Sovereign Citizens group, has commenced a lawsuit against the judge and other public officials and agencies?

Opinion 14-106 An administrative judge who is required to transmit the name of an individual recommended for a particular appointment to the appointing authority, but has ethical or administrative concerns about the suitability of the appointment, should advise the appointing authority of his/her concerns when transmitting the individual’s name.

Opinion 14-107 A full-time city court judge who presides outside the City of New York may become a notary public.

(Inquiry 14-108 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 14-109 Will the Committee reconsider Opinion 03-129, which states that a judge who is constitutionally barred from holding "another public office or trust" (NY Const art VI §20[b]) may not serve as a notary public; and, therefore, may not carry petitions to be designated by other parties in his/her re-election efforts?

(Inquiry 14-110 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 14-111 A town justice whose spouse is a village trustee may preside over arraignments for the village court when the village justice and acting village justice are unavailable, and need not disclose the relationship or offer to disqualify him/herself solely on this basis.

Opinion 14-112 A judge may participate in a culturally mandated celebration and burial ceremony in honor of the judge’s deceased parent, which will take place in another country. During one portion of the ceremony family, friends and other well-wishers shower the judge and his/her siblings with local currency.

Opinion 14-113 The mere fact that a newly formed political party will be limited to the single issue suggested in the party’s name does not, without more, preclude a judicial candidate’s acceptance of the party’s endorsement or nomination.

Opinion 14-114 How must a town judge respond when he/she believes certain charges allocated to the justice court line in the town's budget are not proper court expenditures?

(Inquiry 14-115 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 14-116 An Appellate Division judge need not disclose that his/her spouse serves on the Committee on Character and Fitness in the judicial department in which the judge presides. However, the judge may not participate on any panel of judges assigned to consider an individual application for admission if the judge’s spouse was involved in reviewing the application.

Opinion 14-117 May a judge make financial contributions to certain categories of not-for-profit organizations, such as (a) Common Ground Community, Community Solutions, Heifer International, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and GMHC; (b) Highlander Research and Education Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the NAACP; and/or (c) MoveOn.Org and Emily's List?

Opinion 14-118 Is a judge ethically required to grant defense counsel’s motion for disqualification in a criminal matter, which the District Attorney’s office prosecutes, solely because the judge’s spouse is the District Attorney’s personal secretary, given the judge's spouse's "limited role" as secretary and "his/her lack of involvement in any criminal matters"?

Opinion 14-119 Under the circumstances presented, judge may use official court stationery for correspondence in the judge’s pro se proceeding to expunge a frivolous multi-million dollar lien which a litigant appearing before the judge filed against the judge’s property.

Opinion 14-120 A village justice may preside in a criminal case where the defendant and the alleged victim are attorneys who practice in the village court, and the prosecutor is the town attorney for a neighboring town, provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 14-121 A judge who chose to recuse him/herself in one case after a litigant filed a complaint about the judge may nonetheless preside over other cases in which that litigant appears, provided the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 14-122 Is a judge required to report certain conduct of a notary public which may violate the Executive Law, when the notary is not a judge or an attorney?

Opinion 14-123 May a judge publicly advocate for passage of a constitutional amendment regarding legislative redistricting and serve as a moderator for a program on the redistricting amendment?

Opinion 14-124 May a judge accept an invitation to become a member of the Board of Directors of the local Police Athletic League?

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Opinion 14-125 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to write an article in a local quarterly magazine on the workings and jurisdiction of the local justice courts?

Opinion 14-126 A judge whose formal complaint against another judge resulted in public discipline more than two years ago may preside over matters in which the disciplined judge appears as an attorney, provided he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 14-127 May a judge conduct a book drive or solicit publishers or book sellers to donate books for use as a sentencing tool in certain cases?

Opinion 14-128 May a judge continue to preside over a criminal case where the defendant has previously caused a mistrial by telephoning the court purporting to be a trial juror; caused a delay in the trial by feigning a heart attack; and now has indicated his/her intention to commence an action against the judge, apparently in an effort to secure the judge’s disqualification before the judge can impose sentence?

Opinion 14-129(A) A Judicial Hearing Officer may serve as a hearing officer for the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics, provided such service is legally permissible.

Opinion 14-129(B) A judicial hearing officer (JHO), designated to the JHO panel for certain courts, may nonetheless prepare and argue appeals from decisions in those courts, subject to the limitations of Part 122.

Opinion 14-130 When a candidate’s fund-raising publication uses a photograph that includes a judge’s image, and the related verbiage does not imply the judge is endorsing or soliciting funds for the candidate, the judge does not have an affirmative obligation to object, but may do so

Opinion 14-131 (1) A judge who has received an unsolicited inquiry from a law firm’s recruitment director concerning post-judicial employment, but does not wish to explore the possibility of employment with the firm, may continue to preside over the firm’s cases and has no obligation to disclose the communication. (2) If the judge concludes that the law firm was not thereby attempting to unduly influence the judge’s judicial decisions and that the conduct does not otherwise seriously call into question an attorney’s honesty, fitness, or trustworthiness as a lawyer, the judge need not report the conduct to a disciplinary authority.

Opinion 14-132 A judge must not participate in a not-for-profit charitable organization’s fund-raising challenge, where each participant is required to publicize his/her own participation and publicly solicit other participants. However, a judge may make contributions to the organization, provided that he/she does so without personally soliciting funds or otherwise promoting the fund-raiser.

Opinion 14-133/14-134 A candidate for Supreme Court who is under consideration for a major political party’s nomination may contribute proportionally to the cost of a pre-primary mailing asking minor party voters to vote for a slate of minor party judicial nominating convention delegates who have pledged to support the candidate if he/she ultimately earns a place on the major party’s ballot line, provided that the mailing makes clear that the judicial candidate’s endorsement is being made solely for the purpose of furthering the judicial candidate’s own candidacy and is otherwise consistent with applicable limitations on judicial speech.

Opinion 14-135 May a judge engage in certain extra-judicial activities in support of the passage of a bond to fund a City project to upgrade the local court facility where the judge presides?

Opinion 14-136 A part-time judge may not accept employment as a staff attorney with Legal Aid in the same county where the judge presides, where the proposed employment would unduly disrupt court operations.

Opinion 14-137 A judge may ethically delegate to a court clerk the function of researching whether or not a litigant’s address is located within a particular geographic boundary. However, the determination that the court does not have jurisdiction over a matter and that the filed papers may be refused or dismissed on jurisdictional grounds is a non-delegable judicial function.

Opinion 14-138 A judicial association that is hosting an event to celebrate the life and work of a now deceased judge may permit a not-for-profit civil rights law firm which formerly employed the honoree to co-sponsor or underwrite the event, absent any factors creating an appearance of impropriety.

Opinion 14-139 A judge may publicly express his/her views on how certain proposed transit changes will affect indigent court users and their ability to comply with court-ordered training, treatment, and probation, as these issues directly implicate the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.

Opinion 14-140 Must a judge report his/her co-judge after learning from his/her court clerks that they overheard the co-judge engaging in ex parte, off-the-record communications with a prosecutor and his/her witness, advising them how to present certain evidence at the next phase of the case?

Opinion 14-141 A judge who is currently a defendant in a criminal case involving domestic violence charges should not preside over other domestic violence cases during the pendency of his/her own case and, if convicted, during the term of any sentence that may be imposed. If the judge is acquitted or if the judge completes his/her sentence and/or probation, the judge may preside over other domestic violence cases provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 14-142 May a judge serve as a hearing officer for the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics?

(Inquiry 14-143 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 14-144 Under the specific circumstances presented, where a judge (a) concludes that a prosecutor’s proposed plea bargain in a case before the judge contradicts the People’s prior statement on the record in another pending criminal case where the judge was the alleged victim, and (b) believes that non-disclosure of the apparent contradiction may constitute a fraud on the court and/or Brady/Giglio violations in the other criminal case, the judge must disclose the contradiction to the judge and lawyers in the other criminal case, and must disqualify him/herself from all cases involving the individual at issue.

(Inquiry 14-145 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 14-146 A judicial candidate may not permit his/her campaign committee to solicit or accept items for donation to a local charity.

Opinion 14-147 Although a judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when his/her uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, great-grandparent, or great-grandchild appears before the judge as an attorney, this obligation does not extend to the relative’s law firm colleagues. The judge may preside in contested or uncontested cases involving other attorneys from the law firm of a relative within the fourth degree but beyond the second degree of relationship, provided the judge can be fair and impartial; and may also appoint such attorneys as fiduciary, impartially and on the basis of merit. The judge has no affirmative duty to disclose the familial relationship in such matters.

Opinion 14-148 A judge whose window period for his/her unsuccessful 2014 Supreme Court campaign will overlap with the window period for his/her upcoming 2015 Supreme Court campaign (1) may not roll over funds from one campaign to the next but must establish a new campaign account for the 2015 campaign; (2) may use the remaining 2014 campaign funds for all permissible purposes relating to his/her 2014 campaign during the remainder of his/her 2014 window period, including generically useful purchases which could be used for either campaign; and (3) at the conclusion of his/her 2014 window period, must dispose of any remaining 2014 campaign funds in accordance with applicable rules and opinions.

Opinion 14-149 A judge may allow his/her real property to be used for a festive seasonal ceremony, regardless of whether the ceremony is associated with a particular religion.

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Opinion 14-150 A judge who reported an attorney to a grievance committee is thereafter disqualified from signing a proposed order the same attorney submitted in an unrelated matter, unless the judge determines the proposed order is perfectly identical to the judge’s oral order in the case, which was issued a year before the judge reported the attorney. If so, the judge may sign the proposed order without amendment provided there are no legal issues for the judge to consider or resolve in connection with the proposed order. The judge is otherwise disqualified in all cases in which the lawyer appears, including cases that were pending at the time the judge reported the attorney, during the pendency of the disciplinary complaint and for two years after the disciplinary complaint is resolved.

Opinion 14-151 A judge may not serve as a reference for an individual who has recently appeared before the judge as a defendant/participant in a treatment-oriented problem-solving court.

Opinion 14-152 Where legally permitted, a judge may decline to approve plea bargains that would require defendants to contribute money in an amount set by a district attorney to programs the district attorney chooses.

Opinion 14-153 A judge may not permit a bar association to place collection bins for a charitable clothing drive within a courtroom. If the court is located inside a multi-use building, the judge may permit the bar association to place such bins in the building’s common area.

Opinion 14-154 Absent a legal requirement, a judge may not create, maintain and/or produce information about cases specifically and exclusively for a prosecutor’s benefit.

Opinion 14-155 What are a judge's ethical obligations should the judge's spouse accept employment of a clerical/administrative nature with a local attorney who frequently appears before the judge as a criminal defense attorney?

Opinion 14-156 May a judge and/or the judge's court attorneys attend a Continuing Legal Education program offered by a private legal training organization founded by an attorney, as the founder's guest, where the founder is an attorney who has not appeared, and is not likely to appear, in the judge's court?

Opinion 14-157 A part-time judge who provides advice to certain municipal attorneys on municipal issues in the judge’s capacity as counsel to a nongovernmental association, but who has no attorney/client relationship with such attorneys, may preside in unrelated cases when such attorneys appear on behalf of private clients.

Opinion 14-158 May a judge who is permitted to practice law include the designation "Hon." preceding his/her name in the heading of his/her attorney profile on his/her law firm's website, or otherwise display his/her judicial title in the firm's list of attorneys?

Opinion 14-159 Whether a judge may use his/her official court mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address to conduct bar association business is primarily a question of administrative policy.

(Inquiry 14-160 was withdrawn.)

(Inquiry 14-161 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 14-162(A) Must a judge report to the Commission on Judicial Conduct another judge’s misconduct which he/she personally witnessed and has concluded is a substantial violation of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, when the judge also has credible information the other judge has self-reported the conduct to the Commission?

(Inquiry 14-163 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 14-164 May a judge appear and comment during a public legislative budget hearing regarding proposed cutbacks at the Sheriff's Department in the judge's county and the negative impact that would cause to the County Diversion/Drug Court?

Opinion 14-165 May a judge publish an article about ongoing litigation involving discovery sought from a social media company?

Opinion 14-166 May a judge preside over an arraignment in which his/her first-degree relative by blood or marriage was the arresting officer?  May a judge issue a search warrant where his/her first-degree relative by blood or marriage signed the supporting affidavit?

Opinion 14-167 A judicial candidate, who has received a political organization’s statement of costs incurred on behalf of his/her campaign, has no affirmative duty to investigate the accuracy of the statement. However, where the statement is plainly an unreliable, advance estimate of the actual costs ultimately incurred on the candidate’s behalf, or is otherwise clearly inaccurate on its face, the candidate must request a revised statement of actual costs incurred by the organization.

Opinion 14-168 May a judge preside in two family court matters involving the same parties?

Opinion 14-169 A judge may preside in matters involving the law firm that employs the spouse and first-degree relative of a principal court attorney who works exclusively for the judge, but must insulate the court attorney from the firm’s cases and disclose the insulation. Where the judge determines that a party is legally in default, the judge need not disclose such insulation to the defaulting party, and need not attempt to discern whether a defaulting party is represented by counsel. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 14-170 May a judge agree to be honored by a local chamber of commerce for service as a civic leader during the Chamber's annual fund-raising dinner?

Opinion 14-171 A judge is not disqualified from presiding when the court clerk’s second degree relative appears as an attorney but must insulate the court clerk from his/her relative’s cases.

Opinion 14-172 May a judge preside in cases involving the municipality where the judge presides, and specifically, in building and zoning violations when the judge served as the municipal attorney immediately prior to assuming the bench, and prosecuted building and zoning violations?

Opinion 14-173 A village justice may not consent to hire a village court clerk who would concurrently be employed as an Admissions Officer in the County Sheriff’s office

Opinion 14-174 May a judge preside in a foreclosure case where the law firm representing the bank employs the Principal Law Clerk's fourth degree relative who is not involved in the case?

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Opinion 14-175 Town or village justices, either individually or as magistrates’ association members, must not participate in the design or implementation of a county-wide traffic diversion program.

Opinion 14-176 May a part-time justice also be employed as Head Automotive Mechanic for the County Department of Public Works?

Opinion 14-177 A full-time judge may not accept employment as part-time treasurer of the board of directors of a special district library financed by the local municipality.

Opinion 14-178 When a sitting judge is elected to higher judicial office, prospective candidates may presume the judge-elect’s current position will be filled at the next general election, as soon as the election results are certified. Thereafter, once the window period for the position is open, they may declare their candidacy, establish campaign committees, and otherwise publicly campaign for the position to the extent legally and ethically permitted.

Opinion 14-179 Is it ethically permissible for a part-time judge to accept employment as counsel with a local labor union while continuing to preside as a part-time judge?

Opinion 14-180 A judge who regularly refers litigants to a residential substance abuse treatment facility may write a letter supporting the facility’s application to become a participating service provider for insurance purposes.

Opinion 14-181 A judge may not serve as a mentor to a teenager who has recently appeared before the judge as the respondent in a Persons in Need of Supervision truancy proceeding

Opinion 14-182 A judge may permit a newly elected state official to use a ceremonial courtroom for his/her swearing-in ceremony.

Opinion 14-183 A judge fluent in a foreign language may serve as an uncompensated interpreter for a friend during a business meeting where the judge will not be identified as a judge and will not provide legal advice.

(Inquiry 14-184 was withdrawn.)

(Inquiry 14-185 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 14-186 A judge whose second-degree relative is the municipality’s deputy dog control officer is disqualified, subject to remittal, from dog ticket cases.  Note: Modified with respect to availability of remittal by Opinion 17-150 and a subsequent amendment to Section 100.3(E)(1)(e) & 100.3(F).

Opinion 14-187 Under the specific circumstances presented, where a Surrogate entered into a contract to purchase real property in good faith, but, thereafter, learned the property was part of a decedent’s estate, it is sufficient for the Surrogate to disqualify him/herself from any further involvement in the probate proceeding and the Surrogate need not also repudiate the contract.

Opinion 14-188 A part-time judge who is represented by a union in his/her full-time extra-judicial employment, may preside in a small claims proceeding involving another local of the same union.

Opinion 14-189 Under the specific circumstances presented, where a judge has issued a written decision indicating the judge’s impartiality has been compromised in a new case involving a particular litigant, based on the litigant’s recent disparaging remarks about the judge in connection with a recently concluded case, the judge must disqualify him/herself from all cases involving the litigant, including in any post-judgment proceedings in the recently concluded case, and the disqualification is not subject to remittal.

(Inquiry 14-190 was withdrawn.)

(Inquiry 14-191 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 14-192 A supervising judge, who handles a trial assignment part and is disqualified from presiding in cases where certain attorneys appear, must disqualify him/herself from assigning those cases if the judge must exercise his/her discretion in making the assignment.

Opinion 14-193 A court attorney-referee who is being ordained as a local religious leader may permit the religious institution to hold a non-fund-raising event in his/her honor, attend the event, and accept congratulatory proclamations and resolutions from executive and legislative officials.

Opinion 14-194 May a part-time judge preside when the attorney with whom the judge shares office space appears in the judge's court?

Opinion 14-195 Whether a part-time judge may continue to practice law, while he/she is serving temporarily as a full-time judge pursuant to Uniform City Court Act §2104(e)(2), depends on whether the judge is legally a full-time judge during that period. It thus presents a legal question beyond the jurisdiction of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics.

Opinion 14-196 It would be improper for a judge who presides in medical malpractice cases to accept a private, “in-house” speaking engagement for the board of trustees of a medical facility that regularly appears before the judge.

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Numerical Listing of 2015 Opinions

[Jump to 20092010, 201120122013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 20202021, 2022]

Opinion 15-01 A non-judge who is seeking election or appointment to judicial office may remain employed as a police officer until he/she takes and files his/her oath of office as a judge.

Opinion 15-02 A judge is disqualified in DWI cases involving blood drawn at a hospital where, in the judge’s capacity as a physician, he/she is responsible for regulatory compliance with the hospital’s emergency department phlebotomy services.

Opinion 15-03 A judge may not chair a committee which informs members of a religious congregation of their membership fees, and may not permit his/her name to be listed as committee chair in certain associated written materials that describe such fees.

Opinion 15-04 An incumbent judge’s public announcement that he/she will retire from the bench on a specific date, when coupled with an additional significant and reliable affirmative step to effectuate his/her retirement, is sufficient to create a known judicial vacancy for the purpose of determining when the window period opens and individuals may publicly announce their interest in seeking election to the position.

Opinion 15-05  A judge need not disclose that his/her spouse works for a municipal councilperson as an administrative assistant even though the spouse schedules constituent appointments with a pro bono attorney who provides assistance and advice to litigants who appear in the judge’s court.

Opinion 15-06 A town or village justice whose first-degree relative is a social worker without supervisory responsibilities in the local probation department’s domestic violence division (1) is disqualified, subject to remittal where available, from all cases in which his/her relative is personally involved, but (2) need not disclose the familial relationship in other matters involving the probation department and/or allegations of domestic violence, provided that his/her relative is not personally involved in the matter.

Opinion 15-07 To the extent permitted by law, a town judge may voluntarily undertake to clear snow from the driveway of an abandoned property near his/her home as a public service, even if doing so may also inadvertently aid local law enforcement activities.

Opinion 15-08 During the pendency of a judge’s matrimonial action, and while any associated financial obligations continue between the judge and his/her spouse or former spouse, and for two years thereafter: (1)(a) The judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, in cases involving his/her ex-spouse’s law partners and associates. (b) The judge may nonetheless preside in such cases if the ex-spouse’s law firm demonstrates to the judge’s satisfaction that it has taken steps to ensure that the judge’s ex-spouse is completely insulated from the firm’s cases before the judge, so that the judge’s ex-spouse will have no participation in any such cases and will not share in the legal fees. (2) The judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from cases involving attorneys who are or were personally involved in the judge’s matrimonial proceeding. (3) The judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from cases involving experts who were retained or appointed in the judge’s matrimonial case. After this period has elapsed, the judge must continue to fully disclose the former attorney/client relationship with respect to attorneys who were personally involved in representing the judge or the judge’s ex-spouse in the matrimonial action, but otherwise has no further obligation provided the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 15-09 A part-time City Court judge may concurrently serve in the non-supervisory position of full-time deputy county attorney, provided he/she is not required to perform quasi-prosecutorial duties, such as handling juvenile delinquency and persons-in-need-of-supervision cases.

Opinion 15-10 May a judge preside in cases involving a local county agency where the judge was previously employed as a supervising attorney?

(Inquiry 15-11 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-12 A judge may accept a gift valued under $150 from a local sports team, where neither the team nor its interests have come before the judge and are not likely to do so.

(Inquiry 15-13 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-14 An appellate judge who learns that his/her law clerk is seeking post-clerkship employment: (1) should advise him/her to keep the judge fully informed of the status of his/her applications; (2) must internally insulate the law clerk from all cases involving a prospective employer once the judge learns the prospective employer offered employment to the law clerk or that the law clerk and prospective employer are actually discussing or negotiating a position; (3) must internally insulate the law clerk from all cases involving the law clerk’s future employer once the judge learns the law clerk has accepted a job offer; (4) may discontinue insulating the law clerk from a prospective legal employer once the judge learns that the law clerk will not join that law office after the law clerk’s court employment ends. The judge need not affirmatively disclose to parties or counsel that he/she has insulated the law clerk, but may explain the procedures voluntarily if he/she wishes to do so.

Opinion 15-15 Subject to certain limitations, a full-time judge may serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit local development corporation.

Opinion 15-16 A village justice may preside when village police officers appear in the village court..

Opinion 15-17 May a judge play in a band, which usually performs without pay, at charitable events, block parties and parties for friends?

Opinion 15-18 A judge may preside in cases of protestors, arrested on the same charges as the judge’s second-degree relatives, where the judge’s relatives are not parties and are unlikely to be material witnesses, provided the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 15-19  A full-time judge who asked his/her former law firm in writing to immediately remove the judge’s name from the firm’s signage, letterhead, and other materials need not take any further action.

Opinion 15-20 A town justice should not simultaneously serve as County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator, since its duties involve various law enforcement functions.

Opinion 15-21 A judge need not object to the county executive’s proposal to mention, during an upcoming state of the county address, that the judge is a satisfied user of a county-run public transportation system.

Opinion 15-22 What action, if any, is a judge required to take when the judge believes an attorney who is running for judicial office made an improper political contribution in violation of 22 NYCRR 100.5?

Opinion 15-23 A judge who teaches at a law school, and has no role in a pro bono clinical program organized as a separate legal entity from the law school, may appoint the clinic and its qualified participants to fiduciary positions, and may award appropriate fees as the applicable rules and law permit.

Opinion 15-24 May a judge agree to be profiled in a local, bimonthly publication and featured on its cover where the resulting article would address the judge's legal career, current judicial position, personal life and possibly prior public service?

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Opinion 15-25 Under these circumstances, a Family Court judge may permit his/her court attorney to serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit organization which provides certain services to low-income residents in the region.

Opinion 15-26/15-44 (1) A judge may attend an annual fund-raising event for a not-for profit organization that provides services and support to victims of domestic abuse and child abuse. (2) A judge may attend a non-fund-raising breakfast organized by a consortium of domestic violence agencies to promote discussion of current issues related to domestic violence, including recent and pending domestic violence legislation, where the event and participants are not so imbalanced as to cast doubt on the judge’s impartiality. (3) At either event, the judge should absent him/herself if there is any discussion of a case the judge knows is pending before him/her or another judge in the same court.

(Inquiry 15-27 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-28 May a judge designate different areas of his/her courtroom for the seating of particular groups of individuals, i.e., defendants, witnesses, police/peace officers, attorneys, and agency members who provide court-related services?

Opinion 15-29 May a judge adopt and implement a particular policy on conducting "after hours" arraignments?

Opinion 15-30 A judge should not affirmatively assist a newspaper in improving the accuracy of its reporting by regularly supplying factual information to the newspaper about cases in the judge’s court.

(Inquiry 15-31 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-32 A judge who is a resident shareholder and proprietary lessee in a cooperative housing corporation is disqualified, subject to remittal, from tax certiorari cases involving the judge’s own building or housing corporation, but may preside in other tax certiorari cases brought by the same law firm on behalf of other clients. [Note: Modified by Opinion 19-144, which states: “Consistent with this opinion, we hereby modify Opinion 15-32 to require disclosure when a law firm representing the judge’s building or housing corporation appears on behalf of other clients.”]

Opinion 15-33 A judge need not disqualify him/herself or disclose the spousal relationship (1) when the judge’s spouse’s former law firm appears before the judge on matters in which the spouse had no involvement, even though the law firm maintains a fee interest in eight other matters handled by the spouse, or (2) when attorneys to whom the judge’s spouse has referred occasional, discrete cases, or from whom the judge’s spouse has received such cases, appear in the judge’s court.

Opinion 15-34 A judge may approve a plea agreement that includes a defendant’s participation in a district attorney’s traffic ticket diversion program, provided the judge determines both that the agreement is fair and appropriate with respect to that specific defendant and that the traffic ticket diversion program is legal.

Opinion 15-35/15-75 The fact that a judge’s first-degree relative was killed by a driver who was charged with driving under the influence, or that a judge him/herself was previously a victim of domestic violence, does not, by itself, require disqualification of the judge in cases involving persons charged with the same statutory offenses that caused injury to the judge or the judge’s first-degree relative, provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial.

(Inquiry 15-36 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-37 A judge who has been publicly disciplined as a result of complaints made by the local prosecutor’s office and the local public defender’s office is disqualified from presiding in matters in which attorneys from these offices appear, for two years from the date of the published disciplinary decision.

Opinion 15-38 What is a judge's ethical obligation when the judge's former law firm associate, who is now an assistant district attorney, appears before the judge? 

Opinion 15-39  A judge who knows that the probation department is likely to refer defendants who are convicted of crimes involving domestic violence charges to a program run by the judge’s social worker spouse is disqualified, subject to remittal, from presiding in criminal matters involving domestic violence charges.

Opinion 15-40 May a judge whose spouse is the director of the regional chamber of commerce preside when an entity before the judge is a member of the chamber of commerce?

Opinion 15-41 May a judge preside when his/her co-judge's child appears before the judge as an attorney?

Opinion 15-42 A judge and his/her family may, at a not-for-profit religious organization’s request, share their experience with its summer camp with other families who are considering sending their children to the camp. The judge’s family may thereafter accept the camp’s offer of a discount or a t-shirt or sweatshirt.

Opinion 15-43 A judge whose law clerk was personally involved in a case while employed by a government law office must insulate the law clerk from that case and disclose the insulation. The insulation may not be waived or remitted under these circumstances, but the judge may continue to preside in the case, provided that he/she can be fair and impartial. Conversely, where the law clerk held no supervisory role at the government law office and no personal involvement with a case, no disclosure or insulation is required.

(Opinion 15-44 is part of Opinion 15-26/15-44, above.)

Opinion 15-45 Although a judge must assess his/her current relationship with a lawyer who was formerly a close personal friend in order to decide if disclosure or disqualification is required in cases where the former friend is personally involved, any such obligations do not automatically extend to the attorney’s colleagues or subordinates in a public law office.

Opinion 15-46 A judge, whose real estate purchase contract recently terminated by its terms without a resulting sale, may preside in search warrant applications in which the prospective seller appears, absent any other disqualifying factor and assuming the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 15-47 (1) Whether a judge may require, as a condition of joining a treatment court program that the individual must agree to participate in an exercise program raises primarily administrative and/or legal questions which the Committee cannot answer. (2) Under these circumstances, a treatment court judge should not deliberately attend or participate in an exercise program together with treatment court participants.

Opinion 15-48 A magistrates’ association may publicly support a resolution urging a legislative change to assist local taxpayers in funding their local justice courts.

(Inquiry 15-49 was withdrawn.)

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Opinion 15-50 A judge must not, in order to collect fines or surcharges he/she imposed on a defendant for parking violations, contact another court to ask that payment be made a condition of any disposition of the defendant’s case in the other court.

Opinion 15-51 A full-time judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when a client or former client of the judge’s former law firm appears before the judge. This obligation continues until two years after the financial relationship between the judge and the former firm completely ends, including return of any distributed capital to the judge. After that period, the judge has no further obligation with respect to the former client; the decision of whether to disclose or recuse is confined solely to the judge’s discretion after considering all relevant factors. [Note: Modified by Opinion 18-118.]

Opinion 15-52 A judge may preside over a case where a clerical court employee, not the judge’s personal appointee, has provided freelance transcription services to a private attorney, but must insulate the employee from the case and disclose the employee’s prior involvement and insulation.

Opinion 15-53 A judge need not disqualify him/herself from a civil action after testifying in a separate criminal proceeding, pursuant to a subpoena, about the orders and directives he/she issued in the civil action, even though the judge’s testimony is adverse to one of the litigants in the civil action, unless the judge believes that he/she cannot be impartial.

Opinion 15-54 Is a judge obligated to report two prosecutors to an attorney grievance committee based on what the judge believes to be professional misconduct?

Opinion 15-55 Is disclosure required when an attorney appearing before the judge supported the judge's judicial candidacy at a judicial nominating convention nearly a decade ago?

Opinion 15-56 May a judge post the procedure for resolving a traffic ticket on the Unified Court System's website?

Opinion 15-57 A judge may accept an invitation to attend and participate in an out-of-state conference on women and justice, co-sponsored by a law school, a limited liability company, and a law firm, and may accept the law school’s offer to fund his/her accommodations.

Opinion 15-58 A judge whose court attorney is elected District Attorney must disqualify him/herself for one year, from all matters where his/her office appears. 

Opinion 15-59 A part-time judge who also works for a financial institution need not disqualify him/herself when his/her non-judicial employer’s landlord appears in his/her court.

Opinion 15-60 Under these circumstances, a judge who has taken appropriate and effective remedial steps to mitigate a school’s use of the judge’s name on invitations to the school’s fund-raiser, and will not accept any award or honor at the event, may attend the event.

Opinion 15-61 A judge may not engage in a panel program about his/her recent decision, if the time to appeal has not expired, as the occasion would call for impermissible public comment by the judge; and an attorney who argued the case before the judge is a fellow panelist. 

Opinion 15-62 A full-time judge need not prohibit the judge’s spouse, who is a principal in a real estate LLC, from allowing the spouse’s LLC to rent a storefront to a partisan political organization.

Opinion 15-63 A judge, “of counsel” to a law firm five years ago and its tenant a decade ago, may appoint a partner of the firm to Part 36 fiduciary appointments, provided all the judge’s ties with the firm are completely severed for over two years from the final termination of such business/financial relationships.

Opinion 15-64 May a judge permit two defense attorneys who regularly appear before him/her to include the judge's name as a reference on an application nominating the judge's court attorney for an award from a legal publication?

Opinion 15-65 A judge has no affirmative duty to object to an unauthorized, anonymous, partisan political use of a letter he/she wrote decades ago in the former capacity of a non-judicial official. However, the judge may do so in the judge’s sole discretion.

(Inquiry 15-66 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-67 Under the totality of the specific circumstances presented, a judge who is a former prosecutor should not preside in a case involving a particular individual’s claim of actual innocence.

Opinion 15-68 A judicial hearing officer may not participate in a bar association’s pro bono help desk at a court from which he/she accepts judicial hearing officer assignments.

Opinion 15-69 On these facts, a court attorney referee, who advised and spoke with the referring judge about attorney misconduct that was revealed during proceedings before the referee resulting in a lawyer disciplinary complaint, must be held to the same standard as if he/she had personally filed the complaint.

Opinion 15-70 What is a judge's ethical obligation when he/she learns that another judge appeared in his/her court and attempted to influence the outcome of a relative's case?

Opinion 15-71 A judicial candidate may, subject to certain limitations, participate in a pro-choice or pro-life advocacy organization’s interview process, answer questions during the interview, and, if offered, accept the organization’s endorsement.

Opinion 15-72 MA judge may attend a dispute mediation service’s volunteer recognition dinner, whether it is held at a public venue or a private residence.

(Inquiry 15-73 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-74 A judge, who has been properly subpoenaed, may testify as a character witness based on his/her personal knowledge of a convicted defendant, but must not request leniency in sentencing. The proper format of the judge’s response to a subpoena is a legal or procedural question which the Committee cannot address.

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(Opinion 15-75 is part of Opinion 15-35/15-75, above.)

Opinion 15-76 May a judge participate in a bar association CLE program entitled "Social Media Ethics Guidelines for Attorneys" when the panel includes law partners from various law firms?

Opinion 15-77 A judge may contribute to Planned Parenthood, except if the funds are for a political action committee or other political arm of the organization.

(Inquiry 15-78 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-79 A judge may publicly participate in a non-fund-raising National Day of Prayer event, lead a prayer, and be identified as a judge.

Opinion 15-80 Provided the judge can be fair and impartial, a judge may continue to preside in a case after learning the parties have engaged in occasional, discrete business transactions with the judge’s parents’ manufacturing corporation in matters entirely unrelated to the case, and the judge need not make any disclosure.

Opinion 15-81 May a judge accept a bar association's gift of complimentary admission to an upcoming law-related conference for the judge and a guest, along with food and lodging expenses, where the total value of the gift is approximately $1500?

Opinion 15-82 If all parties were represented by counsel when they and their attorneys agreed the judge should not be disqualified, the remittal remains effective even if a party afterward discharges his/her attorney. [Note: Opinion 21-22(A) abolished the "pro se remittal" rule.]

Opinion 15-83 A judicial candidate may, if permitted by law, personally guarantee to Paypal and credit card issuers that he/she will use his/her personal funds to repay them for “chargebacks” for monies mistakenly or wrongfully paid to the candidate’s campaign.

(Inquiry 15-84 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-85 A judge may review a defendant’s driving history before accepting or rejecting a proposed plea agreement. The judge is not ethically required to disclose the contents of the driving history if he/she has reviewed the document under legally appropriate circumstances.

Opinion 15-86 The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not require disclosure or disqualification solely because an attorney appearing before a part-time lawyer judge is the sibling of the judge’s law firm associate.

Opinion 15-87 May a judge preside in cases involving the District Attorney's office, when a co-judge's spouse is employed as an Assistant District Attorney?

Opinion 15-88 May a judge preside when an attorney appearing in the judge's court is also representing the judge's child in an unrelated, contested matrimonial action?

Opinion 15-89 Where a not-for-profit organization’s regular letterhead does not include the names of the organization’s directors, a judge who learns that all the directors were listed on an invitation to the organization’s upcoming fund-raiser must advise the organization in writing not to list the judge’s name on invitations to fund-raising events. Absent any additional circumstances rendering the judge’s appearance at the event improper, the judge may thereafter attend the event. [Note: This opinion has been modified to the extent it suggests “the formatting must be ‘identical’ to the organization’s regular letterhead” in order for section 100.4(C)(3)(b)(iv) to apply (Opinion 15-219).]

Opinion 15-90 May a judge accept an invitation to attend a bar association's annual dinner as the guest of a law firm, where the cost of the dinner is approximately $500?

Opinion 15-91 May a judge serve as a clothing model at a not-for-profit fund-raising luncheon/fashion show which includes raffles and a silent auction?

Opinion 15-92(A) A judge may serve as an officer of his/her religious institution, and may preach a sermon and make administrative announcements, but may not solicit tithes or contributions. The judge may allow his/her sermons to be broadcast via live streaming on the internet.

Opinion 15-92(B) A judge may write to the American Consulate in a foreign country declaring the judge’s invitation to his/her relatives to visit him/her in the United States, demonstrating the judge is a responsible person, able to meet the material and accommodation needs of the persons invited, detailing the judge’s income and its source. He/she may use judicial stationery which must be marked “Personal and Unofficial.”

Opinion 15-93 A judge may serve as a panelist in a local college’s program on perceptions and realities of the criminal justice system, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct.

Opinion 15-94 A judge who receives reliable information that a more senior judge, who has administrative or supervisory responsibilities, displayed impatient, discourteous, and undignified behavior on the bench, made unprovoked threats to alter another judge's order in the case sua sponte to suit the more senior judge's personal preferences, and repeatedly refused to consider or decide the issues before him/her, must report the more senior judge’s conduct to the appropriate administrative judge.

Opinion 15-95 What is a judge's ethical obligation when the judge's insurance company, which recently represented the interests of the judge or the judge's first degree relative in two civil actions, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-96 (1) The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit a judge from receiving, as part of an equitable distribution, a percentage of the future legal fees earned by his/her former spouse upon the settlement or verdict of any cases deemed part of the former spouse's law practice. (2) When the opposing counsel, from one of the cases which may be subject to the ongoing equitable distribution, appears before the judge in an unrelated matter, the judge may preside after making full disclosure.

Opinion 15-97 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to accept reimbursement for the cost of lodging for two nights in connection with performing an out-of-town wedding for a good friend?

Opinion 15-98 May a magistrates' association send a letter expressing its position on legislation addressing a perceived disparity in the distribution of monies collected by New York's town and village courts, which affects the operation of such courts?

Opinion 15-99 A magistrates association may tour state police headquarters, but should not observe law enforcement training on how to process a DWI arrest at the state police headquarters.

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Opinion 15-100 A judicial association may respond to public criticism of a judge for making statements about a juror in a written decision, provided that the response does not involve comment on a pending or impending proceeding, and subject to certain additional limitations.

Opinion 15-101 Absent an administrative order or rule change allowing judges who preside in treatment-oriented problem solving courts to serve as references for defendants/participants who recently appeared before them, a judge may not be a reference for someone who recently appeared before the judge as a defendant/participant in such a court.

Opinion 15-102 A full-time judge may not participate in the World Series of Poker.

Opinion 15-103 A judge may not write a review of the professional services of his/her divorce lawyer on an online ratings service that displays individual reviews directly to the public, even if the judge’s review were anonymous with no reference to his/her judicial status.

Opinion 15-104 A judge may permit a not-for-profit educational organization to use his/her name and honorific when listing the judge as a volunteer in documents that are circulated within the organization, where other volunteers are also listed with their titles, and the documents will not be used for fund-raising.

(Inquiry 15-105 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-106 Under the circumstances presented, the judge need not disclose a brief and non-substantive conversation with counsel at a bar association function, and both the judge and his/her law clerk may continue to conduct settlement conferences in the case.

Opinion 15-107/15-110 A judge need not make any disclosure or disqualify him/herself from a criminal case solely because a co-judge’s spouse has served, or may serve, as a social worker for the defendant on referral by the probation department, provided the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 15-108 May a judge preside when his/her co-judge's child, or a law firm with which the co-judge's child is affiliated as special counsel, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-109 May a part-time judge who is also employed full-time with a university engage in fund-raising from alumni, parents and friends of the university if such individuals reside outside New York State? 

(Opinion 15-110 is part of Opinion 15-107/15-110, above.)

Opinion 15-111  Provided the judge can be fair and impartial, neither disclosure nor disqualification is required merely because a judge responded to a confidential request from a judicial appointments committee for comments on the character, ability, integrity, and temperament of an attorney who regularly appears before the judge.

Opinion 15-112/15-146 (1) To the extent legally permissible, a judicial candidate may hire responsible persons to pass petitions for his/her campaign and compensate them for the time expended, subject to the fair value rule. (2) A judicial candidate may not agree to pay his/her campaign manager a bonus contingent on the candidate’s electoral victory.

Opinion 15-113 A judge may be the introductory speaker at a program focused on discouraging gun violence, provided the program maintains a balance between speakers representing prosecution or law enforcement perspectives and speakers representing defense perspectives.

Opinion 15-114 May a judge preside over a case involving the law firm of an attorney who represented the judge at a negotiation session in the judge's matrimonial matter, where the attorney now appearing before judge was completely insulated from any involvement in the judge's matrimonial matter? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 15-115 A town judge may permit a court clerk, who was previously employed as the local police chief’s confidential secretary, to meet with the police department and town administration and explain notes the court clerk made during his/her prior employment.

Opinion 15-116 May a part-time town justice accept appointment as the town's tax collector?

Opinion 15-117 On these facts, where a judge encouraged successor counsel to report his/her predecessor and said he/she would personally follow through as necessary to ensure a disciplinary complaint was ultimately filed, the judge must be held to the same standard as if he/she had personally filed the complaint.

Opinion 15-118 May a full-time judge accept an invitation to become a member of a not-for-profit organization which has as its primary purpose the promotion of the culture of a particular religion as well as certain charitable works?

Opinion 15-119 Where a county court judge is aware a town justice presided over an arraignment and then requested the matter be transferred due to a purported conflict, but lacks relevant details of the purported conflict, the judge need not take any further action.

Opinion 15-120 A judge may not join in an advertising campaign intended to lobby political support and funding for union contract renewals for his/her alma mater.

Opinion 15-121 Subject to certain limitations, a judicial candidate may permit his/her campaign committee to establish Facebook connections with the campaign committees of other candidates on the same slate.

Opinion 15-122  A judge may not accept a gift of a food platter from a former judge, now practicing in the judge’s court, or from a bar group on the former judge’s behalf.

Opinion 15-123 A part-time judge may become a member of a governmental advisory committee on services for senior citizens, but may not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or personally request non-members to solicit such funds.

Opinion 15-124 Under the circumstances presented, the inquiring judge must report to the Commission on Judicial Conduct another judge’s attempts to use the prestige of judicial office to influence the outcome of a family member’s criminal case.

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Opinion 15-125 A judge may speak at an academic conference on the topic of international, federal, and state approaches to human rights issues, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct.

Opinion 15-126 (1) A full-time judge may accept compensation for legal or fiduciary services he/she performed before assuming the bench. (2) A full-time judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from matters involving his/her former partners and associates for two years after the relationship completely ends. The judge must also assess any ongoing social relationship he/she may maintain with his/her former partners and associates, which may extend the period for some attorneys. (3) During the disqualification period, the judge may not appoint his/her former partners or associates to fiduciary positions. (4) A full-time judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from matters involving his/her former clients for two years after the relationship completely ends. (5) The propriety of issuing a “blanket” disqualification order to facilitate assignment of certain cases to another judge is an administrative question which the Committee may not address.

Opinion 15-127 A judge may not, by court order, delegate to a court clerk the authority to impose a pre-determined fine for traffic infractions.

Opinion 15-128 A full-time judge whose former law partner is temporarily unavailable for medical reasons may accept and deposit fees, issue checks to clients and the firm and pay expenses as necessary to wind up the law firm’s affairs, until the partner recovers or new counsel is hired but may not use law firm letterhead after assuming judicial office.

Opinion 15-129 A part-time judge may serve on a bar association’s attorney grievance committee.

(Inquiry 15-130 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-131 Under the circumstances presented, a judge who is a party litigant may make a legal argument that relies on the judge’s judicial status.

Opinion 15-132 A judge may hire his/her current law clerk’s spouse as the judge’s secretary, provided the spouse is qualified for such appointment.

Opinion 15-133 A judge may attend a foreign consulate’s reception for its ambassador and may speak at the consulate about the judge’s personal experiences in becoming a jurist, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct.

Opinion 15-134 A full-time principal law clerk who is a part-time SCAR hearing officer (1) may not run for or serve as a delegate to a political party’s judicial nominating convention; (2) may apply for and become a notary public; and (3) may not circulate nominating petitions except during his/her window period as a candidate for election to judicial office, and then only if his/her own name - alone or with others - is on the petition.

Opinion 15-135 Where a judge has received a secondhand report of a casually overheard and possibly privileged conversation and has jumped to the unsupported conclusion that the attorney was, despite his/her actual overheard words, somehow encouraging his/her client to engage in intimidation, threats, or coercion, the judge (1) need not take any disciplinary action with respect to the attorney but (2) must disqualify him/herself from the case to avoid any possible appearance of impropriety. Under these circumstances, the judge should not reveal the reason for his/her disqualification. [Note: In December 2020, the legislature enacted Judiciary Law § 9, which states: “Any judge who recuses himself or herself from sitting in or taking any part in the decision of an action, claim, matter, motion or proceeding shall provide the reason for such recusal in writing or on the record; provided, however, that no judge shall be required to provide a reason for such recusal when the reason may result in embarrassment, or is of a personal nature, affecting the judge or a person related to the judge within the sixth degree by consanguinity or affinity.”] 

Opinion 15-136 May a judge permit a student to make an audiovisual recording of a court proceeding?

Opinion 15-137 Must a judge disclose or disqualify him/herself from cases in which his/her co-judge's spouse has served (or may serve) as a social worker for a defendant on referral by the probation department?

Opinion 15-138/15-144/15-166 (1) Where a judge has no direct personal knowledge whatsoever about purported misconduct of another judge or attorney, he/she has particularly wide discretion to make a threshold decision, based on information the judge has already received, of whether there is a “substantial likelihood” of a substantial violation under all the circumstances currently known to him/her. (2) If a judge believes the information he/she has is mere rumor, gossip, or innuendo, or is otherwise not sufficiently reliable or credible to warrant further consideration, the “substantial likelihood” prong is not met, and the judge is not ethically required to take any action at all. (3) Conversely, if the judge concludes, in his/her sole discretion, that the “substantial likelihood” prong is met, he/she must then consider whether the “substantial violation” prong is met and, if so, must also determine what action is appropriate under the circumstances presented.

Opinion 15-139/15-140 Absent an administrative order or rule change allowing judges who preside in treatment-oriented problem solving courts to serve as references for defendants/participants who recently appeared before them, a judge may not be a reference for someone who recently appeared before the judge as a defendant/participant in such a court.

Opinion 15-141 May a full-time judge co-author a treatise on a specialized area of law and accept royalties from the sales of the book?

Opinion 15-142 A part-time town judge who is also executor of an estate that owns real property within the town may retain counsel and petition the town for approval of the beneficiaries’ requested subdivision of the property. Provided the judge can be fair and impartial, the judge may preside when assistant town attorneys who do not participate in the town’s zoning and subdivision matters appear before the judge, and disclosure is not required.

(Inquiry 15-143 was withdrawn.)

(Opinion 15-144 is part of Opinion 15-138/15-144/15-166, above.)

Opinion 15-145 Although a judicial candidate may not carry or pass petitions for other candidates or request petition signatures for other candidates, he/she may, to the extent legally permitted, attest as a notary public during his/her window period that he/she witnessed signatures on petitions carried or passed by another individual.

(Opinion 15-146 is part of Opinion 15-112/15-146, above.)

Opinion 15-147 A judge who presided over certain cases, and subsequently learned that recusal would have been appropriate in those cases, has no further ethical obligation in cases now concluded.

Opinion 15-148 In these circumstances, a judge, who represented a particular category of litigants in the specialized court where he/she now sits, may not remain on the e-mail list for a former colleague’s summaries, commentary, and compilations of recent cases, if this resource is unavailable to the Bar or public.

Opinion 15-149 May a full-time judge (1) serve as a paid, part-time adjunct professor at a private law school; (2) serve on the board of a private, not-for-profit school that the judge's child attends; (3) serve on the school's audit committee; (4) serve on the school's academic affairs committee; (5) serve on the board of directors of the judge's condominium; and/or (6) serve on a bar association committee?

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Opinion 15-150 A judge whose first-degree relative is a staff attorney for an insurance company is not required to disclose this fact or disqualify him/herself when that company appears before the judge as a party or as a carrier of a party, provided the judge’s relative is a non-supervisory employee with no role in the case.

Opinion 15-151 A village justice may continue as a client of a salesperson whose spouse is the village prosecutor. Unless the relationship is substantially more than an ordinary salesperson-customer relationship, the judge may preside over cases where the salesperson’s spouse appears as village prosecutor without disclosure or disqualification, provided the judge can remain fair and impartial.

Opinion 15-152 May a judge accept a plea conditioned on a defendant writing an essay about traffic safety?

Opinion 15-153  A judge need not report apparent probation violations committed by an individual appearing before him/her.

Opinion 15-154 A judge may not be the guest speaker at a not-for-profit organization’s annual dinner, where the judge knows that the dinner, although itself modestly priced, involves substantial, ongoing and prominent fund-raising as the attendees are strongly urged to upgrade to silver, gold, life, or corporate memberships, and are publicly recognized for making full or partial payment during the dinner.

Opinion 15-155 A judge is not disqualified from presiding in a matter where the judge and his/her spouse own a de minimis interest in large corporations that are parties in the matter, nor need the judge disclose such de minimis interest(s), provided he/she can be fair and impartial. NOTE: Judiciary Law § 14 states: “No judge shall be deemed disqualified from passing upon any litigation before him because of his ownership of shares of stock or other securities of a corporate litigant, provided that the parties, by their attorneys, in writing, or in open court upon the record, waive any claim as to disqualification of the judge.” While we cannot comment on legal issues, please consult the Committee for further guidance concerning a judge’s ethical obligations as a shareholder of a corporate litigant.

(Inquiry 15-156 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-157 Absent a court directive or ethics rule requiring the attorneys to refrain from speaking to a non-party witness during a recess in the midst of a hearing, a court attorney referee need not take any action on learning that an attorney briefly spoke to the witness about subpoenaed materials during the recess.

Opinion 15-158 Although a non-judge who is currently employed as a peace officer in a community college must resign that position if he/she becomes a part-time judge in a nearby municipality, he/she may undertake a new role as a campus security officer after resigning his/her peace officer status.

Opinion 15-159 A town justice may consent to the appointment of his/her first-degree relative as town court clerk and permit his/her relative to continue full-time clerical employment with a private law firm that appears in the court twice a year, provided the town justice disqualifies him/herself from all matters involving the relative’s law firm employer.

(Inquiry 15-160 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-161 The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit a full-time judge’s spouse from acting as a real estate broker on behalf of a trust that is jointly administered by another judge and an attorney who does not appear before the inquiring judge.

Opinion 15-162 May a law clerk who serves as a SCAR Hearing Officer (1) write and publish a children's book with a commercial publisher public and accept royalties and/or (2) personally market and sell the book?

Opinion 15-163 A judge who learns an attorney appearing before him/her made a charitable donation to honor the judge’s deceased relative, as suggested by the relative’s published obituary, has no duty to disclose the donation or recuse him/herself in the matter, where the obituary did not mention the judge’s judicial status and neither the judge nor his/her family used or circulated the obituary to solicit funds.

Opinion 15-164 A judge whose first-degree relative is a part-time attorney for the county department of social services may preside in criminal cases alleging welfare fraud where the agency is the victim or complainant, provided this relative has no involvement in the case.

Opinion 15-165 In these circumstances, a judge may not provide the court’s internal weekly case summaries to a newspaper for publication.

(Opinion 15-166 is part of Opinion 15-138/15-144/15-166, above.)

(Inquiry 15-167 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-168 May a judge preside when an attorney who served as a reference for the judge's judicial appointment appears before the judge more than two years after the appointment?

Opinion 15-169 A judge who receives ongoing restitution installment payments from an individual, payable through a court-ordered intermediary organization, may preside in unrelated cases where that entity’s attorneys appear, if the judge can be fair and impartial. Disclosure of this relationship is not required.

Opinion 15-170 May a judge permit his/her Chief Clerk to serve on an advisory committee charged with helping develop a mediation program for the judge's court in order to represent the court's interests?

Opinion 15-171 Subject to certain limitations, a full-time judge may serve as (1) an officer for a not-for-profit fraternal organization’s local chapter, (2) a non-legal advisor to the organization’s officers, committees, and members on matters of parliamentary procedure, and (3) chair of the organization’s scholarship committee. A judge may not raise funds for this entity by selling raffle tickets to friends, but may sell raffle tickets to family without reference to his/her judicial position.

Opinion 15-172 A judge whose law clerk is the former District Attorney may continue to preside over cases involving the office, but must insulate the law clerk from cases that arose during his/her former tenure, and disclose the law clerk’s prior position and current insulation.

Opinion 15-173 A judge with relevant personal knowledge may write a letter supporting a court officer’s request to be assigned to the judge’s courthouse.

(Inquiry 15-174 was withdrawn.)

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Opinion 15-175 A judge may permit the justice court’s sole court clerk to maintain concurrent clerical employment at a substance abuse facility that may assess and/or treat people who appear before him/her, where the clerk’s duties at the facility are strictly clerical and the court clerk is insulated from patients and their records.

Opinion 15-176 A judge may reveal, discuss and explore his/her interest in receiving an interim appointment to non-judicial office with the public official who will make that decision if the position becomes vacant.

Opinion 15-177 Where a judge has objected to an event that was organized in the judge's name without the judge's authorization, and the event has been canceled at the judge's request, must the judge take any further action?

Opinion 15-178 Housing Court judges who repeatedly receive attempted ex parte communications from elected officials on behalf of their tenant-constituents should set up a screening procedure if possible, so that staff members can return such communications to the sender without exposing the judge to the substance of the communications. (1) If the judge does not review the ex parte communication, disclosure is not required and the judge has no further obligation. (2) If the judge reviews the ex parte communication, it must ordinarily be disclosed to all sides. (3) If the judge believes he/she cannot be fair and impartial after reviewing a particular ex parte communication, disqualification is required.

Opinion 15-179 May a judge give a presentation on recognizing and reducing racial prejudice to an audience consisting exclusively of attorneys who represent a certain category of litigants in a specialized court?

Opinion 15-180 Where a judge has received information indicating a substantial likelihood that an attorney has committed a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and has further concluded that the apparent misconduct seriously calls into question the attorney's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law, may the judge nonetheless refrain from reporting the apparent misconduct to the grievance committee if (a) the misconduct was covered extensively in the media and (b) the judge believes the attorney's former employer may have reported the misconduct?

Opinion 15-181 May a part-time judge maintain concurrent employment with a private company which provides risk and threat assessments to various entities?

Opinion 15-182 Provided the enumerated extra–judicial activities do not interfere with the judge’s regular judicial duties, a full-time judge who has written and published a book may (1) appear throughout the United States to promote his/her book, (2) conduct book signings and speak at bookstores, law schools, and bar associations in New York and elsewhere, and (3) permit copies of the book to be available for purchase at such events. The judge may engage in any such permissible activities in another state or country subject to the laws, rules and regulations for such activities in the subject jurisdiction. Although the judge may permit a commercial television producer to make a television series based on the judge’s book for a commercial television station, the judge may not serve as a host for the series or be interviewed for the series.

Opinion 15-183 What are a judge's disciplinary obligations after learning that a police report contains a defendant's unconfirmed, but also un-denied, claim that an assistant public defender directed a racial/ethnic slur toward the defendant?

Opinion 15-184 May a judge attend a meeting with the local STOP DWI Coordinator and the Sheriff's Department to discuss methods of collecting unpaid fines from defendants sentenced on DWI convictions?

Opinion 15-185 A court attorney-referee need not disclose or recuse from matters involving an attorney who is no more than an acquaintance, merely because the attorney’s sibling is a close personal friend.

Opinion 15-186 Under the circumstances presented, where a judge offered selected attorneys the opportunity to purchase tickets to a local sporting event, and one attorney took advantage of the offer, the judge must disclose the transaction for three months when the attorney appears before him/her.

Opinion 15-187 A judge’s association may hold its annual conference at a hotel resort and casino owned by a sovereign Native American nation.

Opinion 15-188 (1) The Committee cannot suspend the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct or issue legal opinions interpreting the state and federal constitutions. (2) On request for reconsideration, the Committee reaffirms its prior opinions advising that a judge may not take part in certain public activities regarding redistricting.

Opinion 15-189 Under these circumstances, a town justice must report substantial and troubling irregularities in his/her court to an appropriate administrative or supervising judge. The judge may, but is not required to, report the apparent misconduct to other authorities.

Opinion 15-190 A judge may not serve on the board of a not-for-profit agency that offers traffic safety education programs to which the judge may make referrals.

Opinion 15-191 May a judge preside when other attorneys from the firm where his/her niece or nephew is an associate appear?

(Inquiry 15-192 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-193 A judge may write to the director of a federally funded medical facility expressing appreciation for care provided to the judge’s deceased parent, and may use judicial stationery marked “personal and unofficial” for this purpose. The judge may not send copies to federal legislators.

Opinion 15-194 On becoming a part-time village justice, may an attorney (1) continue to practice law as a solo practitioner in the same county where he/she will preside and (2) preside over cases when his/her former law partner appears?

Opinion 15-195 A Family Court judge who ordered a child protective investigation in a case is not disqualified from presiding over other contested proceedings involving the same family.

Opinion 15-196 (1) A law clerk who conferences cases on behalf of a judge may, in his/her capacity as a judicial candidate, film a campaign commercial depicting a simulated conference, provided it is not misleading and there is no connotation of a judicial context. (2) Whether disclosure or disqualification obligations arise out of the relationship between a subsequently elected judge and an attorney who appeared in that judge’s campaign commercial depends also on any other facts that describe the nature of their relationship.

Opinion 15-197(A) Unless legally required, a town justice may not assist prosecutors by (a) arranging meetings with the prosecutor’s prospective witnesses and/or (b) instructing such witnesses to bring lab reports or other possible evidentiary materials to court.

Opinion 15-197(B) (1) A town or village justice may not assist the District Attorney by contacting each prosecution witness, complainant and police officer concerning their upcoming court appearances. (2) Opinion 09-173 is hereby amended so that justice courts should not notify such witnesses for the District Attorney, even if the court is willing to do the same for defendants and defense attorneys on request.

Opinion 15-198 A judge may attend a magistrates’ association meeting held at a local correctional facility, subject to certain limitations.

(Inquiry 15-199 was withdrawn.)

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Opinion 15-200 Whether a full-time judge may serve in the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps raises legal questions the Committee may not address.

Opinion 15-201 A full-time judge who presides in a drug treatment court may serve on the advisory board of a not-for-profit community action organization which educates and assists addicts and their families, provided the judge does not give legal advice to or fund-raise for the organization and does not have the opportunity to make referrals to the organization. While serving on the advisory board, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, in matters where the organization appears. If such service results in excessive disqualifications, the judge must resign from the advisory board.

Opinion 15-202 A full-time judge may not participate in a continuing legal education program that (1) is advertised in a way clearly and improperly implying attorneys attending will be placed in a special position to influence the judge and (2) offers an honorarium designed to maximize the number of paying attendees.

Opinion 15-203 A full-time judge who presides in a treatment court may serve on a legislator’s advisory committee on drug abuse, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 15-204 In general, a judge may preside in a case even though the judge’s secretary once provided freelance transcription services at an earlier stage while it was pending in another court. However, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, if an attorney who is paying for the transcription services appears before him/her. That obligation continues until the work is completed and all fees are paid. Neither disclosure nor disqualification is required when the secretary’s services are paid for by the Unified Court System.

Opinion 15-205 (1) A part-time judge must not serve as Corporation Counsel if the judge personally, or any assistant or deputy corporation counsel under his/her supervision, will prosecute vehicle and traffic law charges, or any other alleged violations of law that involve peace officers. (2) The judge may serve as Corporation Counsel for a city in another county if he/she is completely separated from such prosecutorial responsibilities, for example if the city arranges for special counsel or the district attorney to prosecute such matters so that they are not under the control of the Corporation Counsel. [Note: At its June 17, 2021 meeting, the Committee reviewed two conflicting lines of opinions and determined that a part-time judge may not serve as a code enforcement officer in any jurisdiction, for the reasons set forth in Opinions 00-04, 03-97, 07-75, 09-31, 09-235 and 17-36, even if alleged code violations do not involve peace officers. Accordingly, Opinion 15-205 is modified to the extent inconsistent with this view.]

Opinion 15-206 A judge is not disqualified when an attorney who is the judge’s child’s election opponent appears before him/her, provided the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 15-207 May a judge preside over cases in which the judge's electoral opponent represents the county as prosecuting attorney?

Opinion 15-208 A judge who is disqualified from a case, due to his/her former legal practice, may nonetheless permit his/her unconflicted principal law clerk to conference the case at the request of the presiding judge in the case, provided the disqualified judge does not communicate with the law clerk about the case.

Opinion 15-209 A part-time judge may consult ex parte with court personnel who staff the City, Town and Village Courts Resource Center, and such communications need not be disclosed.

Opinion 15-210/09-56 (1) A judge may join a local chapter of the Shooters Committee on Political Education only if, at the time of joining the entity, he/she is satisfied after reasonable inquiry that the local chapter and the national entity (a) do not align themselves with any political party, (b) do not endorse or promote any candidates for elective office, and (c) have the primary purpose of educating the public about firearm ownership, Second Amendment rights and legislation. (2) Where membership is permitted, the judge may join as a regular member, provided (a) such membership does not involve the judge in organizational litigation or publicly associate him/her with organizational positions on matters of public controversy, (b) the judge does not assume a leadership position in the organization, (c) the judge disqualifies him/herself, subject to remittal, should the organization appear in the judge’s court, and (d) the judge does not contribute to any political action committee or other political arm of the organization. (3) A judge who has joined a local chapter of SCOPE after making reasonable inquiry to ensure it is not a political organization within the meaning of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct may ordinarily rely on that initial assessment. However, if he/she becomes aware of facts suggesting that the entity has become politically active, the judge must either immediately resign or make further inquiries to assure him/herself that the local chapter and the national organization are not political organizations within the meaning of the Rules.

Opinion 15-211 A judge who formerly served as an assistant district attorney is disqualified from presiding over any matters in which he/she was involved in any way, but may preside over other cases involving that office where he/she had absolutely no involvement. The judge must insulate his/her law clerk from any matters in which the law clerk participated as a prosecuting attorney or supervisor and disclose the law clerk’s prior position and current insulation accordingly.

Opinion 15-212 A judge need not disqualify him/herself from cases involving lawyers who sought to contribute to the judge’s spouse’s recent political campaign, provided the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 15-213 May a judge serve as a board member and secretary for a not-for-profit charity that provides services to underprivileged children and families, where the charity does not appear in the judge's court but employs social workers who appear in another court and who meet with that court's resource coordinators from time to time?

Opinion 15-214 A newly appointed judge, who previously ran for a non-judicial elective office, may dispose of the remaining unexpended non-judicial campaign funds by donating them to charity, provided doing so is lawful.

Opinion 15-215 (1) May a village justice provide the local police department with a monthly report cataloging the number of arrests, parking tickets, traffic tickets and calls for service involving various law enforcement entities? (2) May a village justice provide the village trustees with a monthly report indicating the number of cases that have been opened during that period and the total number of cases that remain pending at the end of each month?

Opinion 15-216 A town or village justice may permit a part-time court clerk to accept part-time clerical employment with a law firm which will no longer appear in the judge’s court after hiring the court clerk. However, if the law firm does appear, the judge must disclose and insulate the court clerk.

Opinion 15-217 May a judge fax a copy of the court's weekly calendar to the Department of Homeland Security for their review and determination in what defendants may be potential risks or illegal aliens, for the office to pursue?

Opinion 15-218 A judge is not disqualified from presiding over a criminal case merely because the District Attorney has launched a collateral attack on the judge’s pretrial rulings in another forum.

Opinion 15-219 Where a judge appears on a not-for-profit organization’s regular letterhead as a board member, the judge may also permit the organization to include his/her name along with other board members on the organization’s fund-raising invitations, as long as the content of the list is the same, even if the formatting is not identical, unless the specific formatting reasonably creates an impression that the board members collectively and/or the judge individually are personally soliciting funds or personally inviting people to attend the fund-raiser.

Opinion 15-220 The Committee cannot comment on any legal questions. However, if applicable law permits judges to delegate authority, to accept guilty pleas and set fines, to court clerks who serve in a municipality’s traffic violations bureau, then it would also be ethically permissible for the judges to delegate that authority under the applicable statutory scheme.

Opinion 15-221 What are a judge's obligations where the District Attorney is a former client of the judge's law firm, but the representation completely ended four years ago?

Opinion 15-222 May a judge make a charitable donation to help establish a new mentoring program for at-risk youth, where the program is sponsored by certain county public defenders?

Opinion 15-223 (1) A judge who is co-trustee of a relative’s charitable trust may authorize the trust to make charitable donations to not-for-profit entities that regularly appear before the judge, including legal services providers and agencies to which the judge may make referrals. Provided the judge can be fair and impartial, neither disclosure nor disqualification is required when a recipient of the trust’s charitable donations appears before him/her. (2) A judge as co-trustee of a charitable trust may participate in authorizing donations to not-for-profit organizations that seek to influence social policy, even where the organizations may seek to change the law through litigation, provided the contributions will not readily be perceived as improper political activity.

Opinion 15-224 Where the village police chief is a town board member who may participate in setting the town justice’s salary or the court’s budget, the justice is disqualified, subject to remittal, in any village police case.

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(Inquiry 15-225 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 15-226 It is ethically permissible for a judge to order legally appropriate payment to a former guardian ad litem for services which pre-date the hiring of that attorney by another judge as a principal law clerk.

Opinion 15-227 A judge whose spouse is actively involved in the not-for-profit American Israel Public Affairs Committee may attend a non-political dinner at which the judge’s spouse and other financial supporters will be recognized.

Opinion 15-228 A judge who presides over a re-adoption proceeding involving an attorney with whom the judge has an acquaintance-level relationship has no obligation to disclose the relationship or disqualify him/herself in matters involving the attorney or his/her law firm, if the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 15-229 May a judge serve as president or vice-president of a bar association?

Opinion 15-230 May a judge require defendants seeking re-sentencing under CPL 420.10 to complete a form requesting the same information the judge would otherwise request orally in court?

Opinion 15-231 A judge who has personal knowledge that an estate’s former attorney has failed to turn over estate assets in response to a court order and missed several court appearances must determine, based on the facts and circumstances known to the judge, whether there is a substantial likelihood that the attorney’s actions constitute a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and, if so, must take appropriate action. The judge may, in his/her discretion, wait until the proceeding ends to take any such action.

Opinion 15-232 The Committee cannot comment on legal questions, such as whether a judge may, on his/her own initiative and before the parties’ first appearance, request and review grand jury minutes and/or discovery materials produced to the defense. Should the judge determine such conduct is legally permitted, however, the judge must be careful to avoid any impermissible ex parte communications

Opinion 15-233 A judge must insulate his/her law clerk from all cases in which the clerk was personally involved as a non-supervisory staff attorney, even if the case will end by consent, default, or dismissal. That insulation neither expires, nor may it be waived nor remitted.

 

Numerical Listing of 2016 Opinions

[Jump to 20092010, 201120122013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 20202021, 2022]

Opinion 16-01 A judge who serves on a law school reunion committee (1) may not sign a letter that encourages and solicits alumni donations, but (2) may invite fellow alumni to attend a law school reunion event which is not a fund-raiser, provided he/she does not refer to donations or fund-raising activities.

Opinion 16-02 A judge may not partner with, or commit the court to partner with, entities applying for a grant to create a domestic violence advocacy program. Nor may the judge or the court participate in the ongoing administration of the resulting advocacy program.

Opinion 16-03 A judge need not disclose their relationship or disqualify him/herself in cases involving the state police where his/her spouse is a statewide information security officer for the state police and internally advises that agency on technology issues.

Opinion 16-04 May a judge participate in a bar association’s membership drive and recruit new attorney members with a complimentary one year membership?

Opinion 16-05 A full-time judge may participate in non-commercial podcasts about New York legal issues, or science fiction and comic book characters and legal issues that may arise in fictional works, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct, such as the public comment rule. The judge may be identified as a judge, but his/her participation must not be used to promote or market the podcast.

Opinion 16-06 (1) A full-time judge may generally publicize his/her book and participate in book signing and other promotional events the publisher organizes, but where the work is a children’s book unrelated to the law, the judge may not personally participate in promotions that specifically target attorneys or the legal profession. Thus, the judge may participate in book-signing events at libraries, schools, civic organizations, or shopping centers, but not at bar associations or law firms. The judge may spread news of its publication to friends, family or the general public, but may not aim at attorneys. The judge may read the book at a school, provide complimentary copies to friends, family, libraries, and members of the public and advise, on request, where the book may be purchased. (2) A judge who has written a children’s book may permit the use of his/her judicial title and a photograph, taken while wearing his/her judicial robe, on the book’s back cover.

Opinion 16-07 A judicial candidate may not sign a political organization’s pledge that requires the candidate to support and endorse all other candidates endorsed by the organization and to consult with it on any appointments when in public office.

Opinion 16-08 Whether a full-time City Court judge may accept a temporary appointment as a Family Court judge is a legal issue the Committee has no authority to resolve.

Opinion 16-09 A judge may not send a form letter to defendants who plead guilty by mail advising them sua sponte that they may change their plea to “not guilty” and either conference the matter with the prosecutor or negotiate a reduced plea.

Opinion 16-10 A part-time judge may not place classified ads indicating his/her availability to officiate marriages.

Opinion 16-11 A judge who is a defendant in a bank’s foreclosure action in an individual and fiduciary capacity may nonetheless preside over an unrelated action in which a party has subpoenaed records from the bank, including a party’s motions to quash the subpoena, provided the bank is not a party to the action before the judge but is only a stakeholder which has not appeared or taken a position regarding the subpoena.

Opinion 16-12 May a judge submit a written statement suggesting certain changes to New York’s statutory scheme, in lieu of appearing at a public hearing?

Opinion 16-13  A newly appointed part-time attorney judge may not continue to represent a client on cases which not only originated in the judge’s court, but were previously handled by the inquiring judge’s predecessor on that court, and were transferred to another local court only after the inquiring judge assumed the bench.

Opinion 16-14 What are a judge's obligations with respect to (a) his/her former colleagues at a private law firm, (b) individuals who supported his/her election campaign in various capacities, (c) his/her former subordinates in a government law office, and (d) his/her law clerk's former private law firm employer?

Opinion 16-15 May a full-time judge accept an honorarium for giving the "lesson for the day" at a worship service?

Opinion 16-16 A judge who presided over two related civil actions may preside over the losing party’s subsequent malpractice action against its former counsel, only if the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 16-17 A judge who maintains a leadership role in a religious organization may not promote fund-raising activities or otherwise personally participate in soliciting funds or goods for charity, but may promote a non-fund-raising weekend retreat. A judge may not be a featured speaker at a religious institution’s anniversary banquet or permit use of his/her name in the event’s promotional materials when fund-raising will occur before and during the banquet.

Opinion 16-18 May a judge serve as a character reference for a court intern who has applied for a pistol permit?

Opinion 16-19 An appellate judge, whose former law clerk is now a support magistrate, may serve on an appellate panel reviewing a Family Court judge’s decision to grant or deny objections to the support magistrate’s factual and legal determinations. The appellate judge need not disclose the former law clerk relationship.

Opinion 16-20 May a judge whose prior service as an assistant attorney general ended five years ago preside in matters involving the Attorney General's office?

Opinion 16-21 A part-time judge, presiding without a jury, is disqualified, subject to remittal, if a town board member who votes on setting the judge’s salary is a necessary witness whose credibility the judge must evaluate.

Opinion 16-22 A judge may read passages from scripture at a religious service, but may not participate in a prison ministry program where inmates sentenced by the judge may be present in the program’s group sessions.

Opinion 16-23 A judge is not required to appoint an expert whose competence he/she questions. If the judge believes he/she cannot be fair and impartial in weighing the expert’s testimony, he/she may not preside in cases involving the expert. Conversely, if the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial, the judge may preside, despite the expert’s apparent efforts to pressure the judge into appointing him/her.

Opinion 16-24 A judge must disclose the ongoing relationship when an attorney appearing before the judge is currently holding money in escrow for the judge. If the escrowed funds are released without controversy, the disclosure obligation ends when the escrow arrangement terminates. Should controversy concerning the escrowed funds arise, then the judge must disqualify in matters involving the attorney for the duration of the controversy and for two years thereafter.

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Opinion 16-25 A judge is not required to - but may in his/her discretion - notify a police officer’s commander of the officer’s non-compliance with a legal mandate.

Opinion 16-26 A Court of Claims judge has no duty to disclose or disqualify him/herself from cases involving the Attorney General’s office, based only on media efforts to link the judge and his/her spouse with a person whom the Attorney General is investigating.

Opinion 16-27 A JHO may not write a letter supporting an inmate’s efforts to gain parole and/or clemency.

Opinion 16-28 A Family Court judge whose first-degree relative has a part-time entry-level job with an agency where the county department of social services may place a child (1) is disqualified, subject to remittal, from any cases in which the judge’s relative has been personally involved but (2) has no obligation with respect to other cases involving children placed at the same agency. If the judge is satisfied that the agency has an effective procedure in place to insulate the judge’s relative from any cases that may come before the judge, the judge may rely on that insulation and preside in cases involving the agency without any obligation to disclose the employment relationship or inquire about the judge’s relative’s possible involvement in the case.

Opinion 16-29/16-50 When may a judicial candidate treat his/her remaining unexpended campaign funds as de minimis? What are permissible uses for such funds once the window period expires?

Opinion 16-30 Where the new Public Defender preliminarily and briefly represented a judge in a disciplinary proceeding one year ago as a private attorney, the judge may continue to preside over matters involving assistant public defenders, provided the judge can be fair and impartial. The judge need not disclose the prior, non-substantive representation when the assistant public defenders appear.

Opinion 16-31 A judge need not disclose that his/her attorney spouse is currently litigating an unrelated action in another court, as opposing counsel to one of the attorneys appearing before the judge.

Opinion 16-32 A part-time city court judge who presides over arraignments and other criminal cases should not serve as sheriff’s office part-time in-house counsel.

Opinion 16-33 May a judge write a letter on behalf of a family member who has a criminal case pending in another state? Does it make a difference if the judge does not reveal his/her judicial status but writes solely in his/her personal capacity as the defendant's relative and as an individual who has previous professional experience as a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and a quasi-judicial official?

Opinion 16-34 A full-time judge may participate as one of several panelists and mentors at a free luncheon for young people of a particular minority group, where the event’s philanthropic purposes are clear, the judge’s participation will not be used for promotional purposes, and the commercial sponsor has assured the judge in writing that no commercial activity whatsoever will take place at the event.

Opinion 16-35 May a judge attend, as a guest, a fund-raising event held by a not-for-profit law enforcement organization? May the judge make donations to the entity?

Opinion 16-36 (1) An appellate judge who was formerly an equity partner in a large law firm is disqualified for two years from hearing appeals involving a party the judge recognizes as a current or former client of the law firm, even though a different law firm is representing the client. (2) Where there are ongoing financial connections or obligations between the judge and the firm, the two-year period commences from the date on which the financial relationship between the judge and the law firm completely ends. (3) A judge need not refer to the firm’s conflict databases to determine whether a client relationship exists. [Note: Modified by Opinion 18-118.]

Opinion 16-37 Subject to certain limits, a full-time judge may enter an option/purchase agreement for his/her screenplay.

Opinion 16-38 A judge presiding in a large urban criminal court may write a reference for a police officer seeking to be promoted based on personal knowledge of the officer, which predates the judge’s assumption of judicial office, where he/she can easily recuse him/herself when this officer appears in his/her court.

Opinion 16-39 What are a judge's obligations with respect to reporting attorneys for improper use of their firm's IOLA account?

Opinion 16-40 May a judge who is a member and officer of a specialized bar association sign the association’s certificate of incorporation?

Opinion 16-41 May a judge, at the request of an attorney who recently appeared before him/her as the subject of a Treatment Court proceeding, voluntarily testify in the attorney’s disciplinary proceeding?

Opinion 16-42 Whether a judge may sign a final decree of judicial settlement pursuant to SCPA § 2602(1)(b), following disqualification of the judge who issued the underlying decision, is a legal question the Advisory Committee cannot address.

Opinion 16-43 Provided the judge can be fair and impartial, a criminal court judge who presided over an ex parte search warrant application may later arraign (1) a confidential informant who testified in support of the warrant and/or (2) the target of the search warrant. Neither disclosure nor disqualification is required.

Opinion 16-44 A judge may preside in cases of a global insurance company employing his/her non-lawyer spouse in a mid-level position with no litigation responsibilities, unless the spouse is personally involved in the matter.

(Inquiry 16-45 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 16-46 (1) A judge who concludes that grave inconsistencies at the core of another judge’s sworn testimony concerning his/her performance of judicial duties constitute perjury or intentional deception must report the witness-judge to the Commission on Judicial Conduct. (2) Conversely, if he/she concludes the witness-judge did not deliberately testify falsely or intentionally attempt to mislead the court, then he/she has full discretion to take some other, less severe action appropriate to the circumstances.

Opinion 16-47 A non-judge who is a judicial candidate in his/her window period may not serve on a local bar association’s screening panel evaluating applicants for appointment to state or federal judicial office.

Opinion 16-48 (1) Must a judge who ordered a transcript to be redacted provide an unredacted copy to counsel on request? (2) Is a judge disqualified from presiding in a case where a party and his/her spouse are long-time acquaintances of the judge's spouse and an associate in that party's law firm served as the judge's court attorney more than a decade ago? (3) Must a judge report an attorney if he/she believes the attorney is improperly attempting to include personal information about the judge's family in the record?

Opinion 16-49 How long is a judge disqualified from matters involving an attorney he/she reported to the grievance committee?

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(Opinion 16-50 is part of Opinion 16-29/16-50, above.)

Opinion 16-51 May a full-time judge serve on the board of a not-for-profit community economic development corporation?

Opinion 16-52 The Committee cannot comment on any legal questions. However, if controlling law permits voter registration forms to be made available at court facilities, it is ethically permissible to do so in a strictly neutral, non-partisan and informational manner, subject to any applicable legal requirements.

Opinion 16-53 May a town or village justice permit the court clerk to serve as an acting justice of the same court?

Opinion 16-54 (1) Under the circumstances, a judge need not disclose or disqualify him/herself from a case solely because one defendant (a) is a judge in the same geographic region and (b) previously had some minimal political and professional connections with the judge’s current law secretary. (2) The judge may, in his/her sole discretion, disclose such connections as a purely prophylactic measure without incurring any further obligation.

Opinion 16-55 (1) Absent a legal requirement, a town justice must not sign a statement (a) acknowledging an obligation to comply with a town ethics code, or otherwise agreeing to be bound by such code where it is more stringent than the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, or (b) acknowledging that willful violation of the town ethics code may be a basis for suspension, dismissal, or removal, or otherwise agreeing to allow the town board remove, suspend, or dismiss the judge. (2) A judge who determines in good faith that he/she is legally required to sign such a statement may do so without violating the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 16-56 (1) Unless a judge is required by law or rule to perform marriages, a judge may adopt a policy to decline to perform all weddings. (2) A judge who declines to perform weddings may permit court staff to refer couples to another incumbent public official who is authorized to solemnize marriages.

Opinion 16-57 A judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from matters involving an attorney who has filed employment discrimination charges against the judge’s second-degree relative. The judge may preside in matters involving other attorneys from the same office, provided he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 16-58 A part-time judge may conduct background investigations for the United States Office of Personnel Management.

Opinion 16-59 May a judge who previously served as a local prosecutor for a lightly populated municipality for many years, ending over a decade ago, preside in a case involving high-profile allegations of recent misconduct by the local police?

Opinion 16-60 On these facts, a judge may not join an informal discussion group with politically connected people to develop detailed proposals for redistricting reform, comprehensive election and voting reforms, restructuring the legislature, changes in school funding, and other highly controversial or political matters largely unrelated to the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.

(Inquiry 16-61 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 16-62 A judge who is a respondent in an Article 78 proceeding challenging the judge’s order in an ongoing case may comment on the circumstances surrounding the order in his/her response.

Opinion 16-63 (1) A non-judge appointed to a judgeship is not subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct until her/his term starts and he/she assumes judicial office by signing and filing the oath of office. (2) A part-time attorney judge may publicly display on his/her office building a non-partisan banner stating “Your vote counts in ___ County.” (3) A part-time attorney judge must prohibit his/her attorney tenant from practicing before any judge of his/her court if: they share a fax machine and fax number which is included in their respective stationery, or they cover court appearances for each other, or the judge’s receptionist answers phone calls for the tenant.

Opinion 16-64 (1) A judge ordinarily may preside in matters involving an attorney who is the chair of a political committee on which the judge’s court attorney serves. (2) The judge need not insulate the court attorney or disclose the relationship when the town committee chair appears as an attorney, where committee membership is the only connection between the two attorneys, the proceeding does not involve the committee or related political issues, and the judge is satisfied that the court attorney can be objective.

Opinion 16-65 A judge may appoint a qualified attorney who is also a co-judge’s first-degree relative to handle cases before other judges of the court as a special prosecutor, where the appointment is not governed by Part 36.

Opinion 16-66 Under the circumstances presented, when an attorney appearing before the judge had previously represented the judge’s grandchild’s parent and now has an outstanding judgment for unpaid legal fees, (1) the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, until the judgment is satisfied or vacated; (2) for two years thereafter, the judge must disclose the attorney’s former representation; and (3) thereafter, the judge has no further obligation, provided he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 16-67 A judge whose first-degree relative heads the local probation department is disqualified from matters where the department’s employees appear, subject to remittal.

Opinion 16-68 A judge may not voluntarily comply with guidelines requiring ethically impermissible conduct when deciding a defendant’s eligibility for assigned counsel.

Opinion 16-69 May a judge serve as master of ceremonies for a not-for-profit community organization’s event honoring local religious leaders and a local executive branch official, where “all the proceeds will benefit the youth program”?

Opinion 16-70 A judge may exercise his/her statutory obligation to exercise ongoing administrative responsibilities over a municipal office or agency, even though the judge is currently disqualified from presiding over any proceedings involving the office.

(Inquiry 16-71 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 16-72 A part-time justice, as counsel to an association of local government officials and employees, may advise individual members concerning local justice court operational issues, where such issues do not pertain to any pending cases, nor the court in which the judge presides.

Opinion 16-73 A judge and his/her family may not attend a defensive driving program hosted by the police department exclusively for police personnel and their families and otherwise closed to the public.

Opinion 16-74 A judge whose first-degree relative works for a local hospital may preside over cases in which a party calls witnesses, subpoenas records, or presents exhibits from the hospital which employs the judge’s first-degree relative, provided the relative has had no personal involvement in the matter. Similarly, neither disclosure nor disqualification is required merely because a case involves foster children who have been, or will be, treated in another unit of the hospital that employs the judge’s relative.

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Opinion 16-75 Two judicial candidates, hosting a joint fund-raiser, may permit their campaign committees to accommodate an attendee who supports only one candidate and therefore refuses to pay 50% of the ticket price to each campaign committee, by allowing him/her to pay the full price to one campaign committee. If they choose to so proceed, the candidates must instruct their campaign committees to shield the candidates from the accommodation’s details, including the donor’s identity.

Opinion 16-76 A judge may serve on the advisory board to an academic/clinical unit within a private law school, even though he/she refers litigants to the unit’s treatment programs, provided the judge’s activities on the board are strictly limited to reviewing and evaluating the unit’s educational curriculum.

Opinion 16-77 A judge, whose administrative judge has commenced a lawsuit against certain entities and attorneys for alleged misconduct in the judge’s court, is not disqualified from cases involving those entities and attorneys, provided the judge can be fair and impartial. The judge need not make any disclosure of the administrative judge’s lawsuit but may do so in his/her sole discretion.

Opinion 16-78 May a town judge express his/her views to the town board concerning a proposed change to a local speed limit and its likely effect on public confidence in the courts?

Opinion 16-79 A judicial candidate may not personally distribute campaign materials that, on their face, invite the public to “donate” to his/her campaign, but may permit his/her campaign committee to do so.

Opinion 16-80 A full-time judge may, in an individual capacity and as trustee of a beneficial trust for a family member, hold ownership interests in a limited liability company that owns income-producing property, along with the judge’s spouse.

Opinion 16-81 May a town or village justice preside in matters involving an attorney who (1) is associated in the practice of law with the municipality's attorney and (2) is married to the full-time administrative assistant of a person who participates in setting the judge's salary and the court's budget?

(Inquiry 16-82 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 16-83 A part-time judge may portray a judge in a for-profit film, provided the role does not detract from the dignity of judicial office.

Opinion 16-84 (1) A judge need not disqualify him/herself when an attorney, who previously represented the judge’s recent election opponent in an election law case, appears, provided the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial. (2) The judge’s prior discretionary recusal from a case involving the attorney does not require perpetual disqualification where the recusal was not mandated by the rules or prior opinions.

Opinion 16-85 A judge may not engage anonymously in otherwise prohibited political activity, such as publishing partisan political literature. The Committee cannot answer additional questions about the judge’s public expression, as they are vague, subject to multiple factual variations.

Opinion 16-86 May a judge be ordained as a minister via an online course in order to conduct a wedding in another state?

Opinion 16-87 A town justice may not serve as the workplace ombudsman for aggrieved town employees, as the positions are ethically incompatible.

Opinion 16-88 (1) A quasi-judicial official who is suing the county is disqualified, subject to remittal, when attorneys who are personally involved in defending the county appear before him/her in their private or official capacities. (2) For two years after the lawsuit concludes, disclosure is mandatory when these attorneys appear. (3) Neither disclosure nor recusal is required when other assistant county attorneys, or other attorneys from county-level government law offices appear, provided they are not personally involved in his/her lawsuit.

Opinion 16-89 A judge may write a letter urging a municipality to add court officers’ names to a memorial honoring first responders who died during rescue efforts following a terrorist attack, even though the municipality has previously declined to add those names.

Opinion 16-90 May a judge respond to an inquiry from an Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission regarding the qualifications of a candidate for judicial office in another judicial district? [Note: The IJEQCs have been discontinued.]

Opinion 16-91 (1) A town justice may ask local not-for-profit organizations if they are willing to accept court placement of defendants to serve community service sentences, and thereafter provide their contact information to the alternatives to incarceration program’s administrator. (2) The judge may continue to participate in activities organized by such organizations, provided he/she takes certain steps to minimize any appearance of impropriety.

Opinion 16-92 May a part-time judge participate in a District Attorney's traffic diversion program by (1) adjourning a defendant's case for 60 days at the DA's request so the defendant can take part in the program and then (2) dismissing the charges at the DA's request after successful completion, where defendants are charged a fee to participate in the diversion program?

Opinion 16-93 A judge may place promotional materials for a not-for-profit bar association’s upcoming educational programs on a table in the back of the courtroom.

Opinion 16-94 (1) The Rules do not preclude a part-time judge from running for and serving as delegate to a state constitutional convention, provided governing law permits him/her to do so. (2) A judge may take a public position on whether a constitutional convention should be convened in an upcoming referendum, subject to certain limitations. (3) A judge may lecture on historical constitutional conventions and procedures. (4) As no constitutional convention has been approved or scheduled at this time, questions concerning permissible campaign activities for a judge who wishes to become a constitutional delegate are hypothetical and premature.

Opinion 16-95/16-107 A judge may write a letter on behalf of a not-for-profit organization’s grant application to assist crime victims, provided the letter describes only the judge’s personal knowledge and experience with the organization and is limited to objective facts.

Opinion 16-96 Where a judge has provided a negative evaluation to the Appellate Division about a doctor's work in a case before the judge, thus triggering reconsideration of the doctor’s suitability for an Appellate Division panel, may the judge thereafter continue to preside in other cases in which the doctor appears? Does it make a difference that the doctor knows about the judge's comments?

Opinion 16-97 After one bona fide effort to return unexpended funds pro rata to all contributors, a judicial candidate need not make any further efforts to return the funds, even if some envelopes were returned to the campaign committee as undeliverable. Instead, the remaining campaign funds may be used for any purpose consistent with prior opinions and applicable law.

Opinion 16-98 May a full-time judge serve on (1) the Executive Committee of a private not-for-profit elementary school's board of trustees and/or (2) a search committee to hire a new head of the school?

Opinion 16-99 (1) A judge is not required to disclose or recuse in matters involving the chief clerk’s former private law firm employer. However, the clerk must be insulated from any matters in which he/she was personally involved, including matters where he/she prepared, witnessed or notarized a will now offered for probate. (2) The judge may likewise preside over matters in which the chief clerk’s attorney spouse appears, subject to insulation of the clerk.

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(Inquiry 16-100 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 16-101"Digest: The effective date of Opinion 15-197(B) is September 1, 2016."

(Inquiry 16-102 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 16-103 Where a town or village justice has already reported substantial and troubling irregularities by a co-judge's court clerk to a supervising judge, and taken steps to ensure that the clerk will have no further contact with his/her files, does the judge have any obligation to take further action?

Opinion 16-104 A village justice must prohibit the court clerk from attending the mayor’s regularly scheduled meetings with the village government’s department heads. [Note: This opinion has been partially modified and partially reaffirmed by Opinion 21-26.] 

Opinion 16-105 A judge subject to article VI, section 20 of the state constitution may not sign a separate oath of office for a county legislature’s law-related advisory board without an opinion from OCA’s Counsel’s Office advising the oath’s execution is legally permissible.

Opinion 16-106 May a full-time judge with relevant personal knowledge concerning a neighbor complete a Department of Social Services "Residency Verification" form which (a) requests strictly factual information concerning the names of all adults and children in the home; (b) requires the form be filled out by a professional who knows the applicant and his/her family; and (c) requires the signer to state his/her profession?

(Opinion 16-107 is part of Opinion 16-95/16-107, above.)

(Inquiry 16-108 was withdrawn.)

(Inquiry 16-109 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 16-110 What are a judge's obligations after hearing "confidentially" from another judge about possibly unethical and/or illegal conduct of a local prosecutor, where the inquiring judge has no personal knowledge of such conduct?

Opinion 16-111 May a judge preside in matters involving a law firm that has temporarily hired the judge's child for the purpose of studying law?

Opinion 16-112 A judge may join the Legal and Business Professionals of ____ County, a private social organization consisting of judges, lawyers, businesspeople, and law enforcement professionals interested in making their community a better place to work and live, even though its former name and mission statement inaccurately suggested a law enforcement orientation.

Opinion 16-113 May a judge "participate" in a traffic diversion program where defendants are charged a fee to participate, and the judge is concerned the fee may violate Vehicle & Traffic Law §1804?

Opinion 16-114 Provided he/she can be fair and impartial, a full-time judge may preside in matters involving (1) a government agency where the judge’s former public sector colleague and current social acquaintance has a high-ranking position and (2) a public law department headed by a part-time judge. No disclosures are required in these circumstances.

Opinion 16-115 A judge may permit his/her law clerk to teach a class on the Penal Law to law enforcement personnel, provided he/she does so in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary’s impartiality and integrity and does not suggest a predisposition on any particular matter. The law clerk should also be willing to teach a similar course to a defense-side audience, if requested.

Opinion 16-116 May a full-time judge who presides over criminal arraignments appear at public meetings of the county legislature and other governmental boards or agencies to advocate for: (1) increased staffing for the District Attorney and Public Defender so they can appear at criminal arraignments and perform their other duties and/or (2) "a centralized district court or arraignment court to speed the process and assure that the People and the defendant are represented"?

Opinion 16-117 May a full-time judge teach a fitness class for a not-for-profit educational, charitable or civic organization? May the judge accept the organization's standard per-session compensation for instructors?

(Inquiry 16-118 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 16-119 (1) A JHO may represent clients in uncontested Surrogate’s Court proceedings in any county, even if he/she is designated to serve on the JHO panel for that county’s Surrogate’s Court. (2) A JHO who is designated to serve on the JHO panel for a county’s Surrogate’s Court must immediately withdraw from a proceeding in that court, if it becomes contested with the filing of an answer or objections. (3) A JHO may represent clients in real estate transactions, but must immediately withdraw should the matter result in civil litigation in a court where he/she is designated to serve. (4) A JHO’s law partners and associates are not precluded from appearing on contested matters in a court where the JHO is designated to serve. (5) A JHO may permit his/her law firm colleagues to assume the representation on a contested matter after the JHO withdraws from representation, but the JHO must not participate further in the matter. (6) For any contested matter in a court where the JHO is designated to serve, the JHO must not advise his/her law firm colleagues on the matter, participate in the matter in any way, or receive a fee.

Opinion 16-120 Where a judge learns of a conflict with a witness which precludes him/her from presiding in a criminal defendant’s Outley hearing, the judge is disqualified from the remainder of the criminal case and may not sentence the defendant.

Opinion 16-121 What are a judge's obligations in cases involving a probation officer who is the judge's fifth-degree relative by blood or marriage?

Opinion 16-122 Provided he/she can be fair and impartial, a judge may preside in cases involving an attorney who represented his/her third-degree relative on other matters. Disclosure is not required.

Opinion 16-123 A judge must continue to disclose that prosecutors presently appearing before the judge were personally involved in a proceeding involving the judge’s second-degree relative’s criminal conviction for a two-year period after entry of judgment on that proceeding notwithstanding the relative’s death. If, after disclosure, a party objects to the judge presiding, the judge has discretion whether or not recusal is warranted. The judge need not disclose that his/her relative died but if this fact is disclosed, the cause of death need not be.

Opinion 16-124 A judge may mentor a high school student through a not-for-profit mentorship program, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct.

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Opinion 16-125 May a judge perform a marriage ceremony in another state?

Opinion 16-126 May a judge continue presiding in a criminal trial after the defendant commences a lawsuit naming the judge in his/her "official and individual capacity" for a claimed civil rights violation? Does it matter whether the defendant also sent these legal filings to a high-ranking prosecutor?

Opinion 16-127 A judge serving on an official court-sponsored legislative advisory committee may participate in committee discussions relating to the judge’s recent decision in an ongoing proceeding.

Opinion 16-128 May a judge volunteer to serve as the judge in a mock trial, outside New York State, organized by a private law firm for the benefit of their associates and for in-house attorneys of the law firm's client?

Opinion 16-129 A judge need not disqualify him/herself in a criminal case merely because the defendant, defense witness(es) and/or other individuals connected with the defense have filed complaints against the judge, provided the Commission on Judicial Conduct has not issued a formal written complaint and the judge can remain fair and impartial.

Opinion 16-130 Where a judge’s spouse, as director of government relations, helps select a law firm to handle lobbying and works directly with the law firm’s lobbyists, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from matters involving that law firm. The obligation lasts for the duration of the attorney-client relationship between the spouse’s employer and the law firm, but terminates when the relationship ends.

(Inquiry 16-131 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 16-132 Must a judge report a litigant's former attorney for alleged, unspecified sexual misconduct briefly alluded to in open court and in the attorney's absence?

Opinion 16-133 A judge may preside in matters involving an attorney who hosted a single fund-raiser for the judge’s law clerk’s election campaign, but must insulate the law clerk and disclose the insulation during the campaign. This obligation ends on Election Day.

Opinion 16-134 A full-time court attorney-referee may not work part-time as a real estate agent.

Opinion 16-135 A judge may publicly advocate for a change in the Penal Law by writing to executive and legislative bodies and/or officials, as well as other potentially interested parties, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct. The judge need not inform local prosecutors or defense counsel of these activities.

Opinion 16-136 A judge, about to retire fully from the Unified Court System, may agree to be the guest of honor at a not-for-profit entity’s fund-raising dinner that will take place after his/her retirement, provided the judge’s participation is not announced or publicized until after his/her retirement is effective.

Opinion 16-137 A part-time judge may accept employment as a salaried conflict defender with the county, and as such may accept appointments from full-time judges and non-lawyer part-time judges before whom he/she is otherwise permitted to appear. However, the judge may not accept appointments from, nor appear before, any part-time judge within the county who is permitted to practice law or any judge within the judge’s own court.

Opinion 16-138 A judge who wishes to hire a new personal appointee law clerk may circulate the job notice through a bar association, specialized bar association committees, and attorneys who serve on those committees. The judge may also ask these attorneys to circulate the job notice within their law firms. There is no need for disqualification or disclosure merely because an attorney appearing before the judge, or his/her spouse, agrees to circulate a job notice for the judge.

(Inquiry 16-139 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 16-140 Absent any factors creating an appearance of impropriety and in fulfillment of a defendant’s fundamental right to counsel, a judge may consider a defendant’s written form application for assigned counsel ex parte and make a determination of financial eligibility on an ex parte basis. However, if the judge reviews an ex parte communication relating to the underlying prosecution, he/she must disclose it to all sides.

Opinion 16-141 (1) Where the Commission on Judicial Conduct has formally charged a judge with misconduct in a formal written complaint, based on a complaint from the county District Attorney, the judge is disqualified in all cases prosecuted by the District Attorney’s office while the disciplinary proceeding remains unresolved. (2) The judge may preside in criminal matters where the District Attorney has delegated authority to a private attorney, town attorney, town prosecutor, law enforcement officer, or any other person who is not directly employed in the District Attorney’s office. (3) Once the disciplinary proceeding is resolved, the judge may write in for further guidance on his/her obligations going forward.

Opinion 16-142 A town or village justice may not permit a part-time court clerk to accept outside employment as assistant to the local prosecutor that regularly appears in his/her court.

Opinion 16-143 (1) Where a part-time lawyer judge's law practice associate is representing a client in another court in the same county before another part-time lawyer judge, the judge may not personally participate in the representation by meeting with the client or discussing the case with opposing counsel, even if such activities will take place away from the courthouse. (2) The judge may nonetheless directly supervise a subordinate attorney who is representing the law practice's clients in such matters, provided such supervision takes place in private, without involvement of the client, opposing parties or counsel, or the court in which the matter is heard.

Opinion 16-144 (1) A judge whose law clerk becomes the District Attorney is disqualified, subject to remittal where permitted, from presiding in cases involving the DA’s office for one year, even if the judge is presiding in veterans court. (2) To the extent lawful, practical and appropriate, it is ethically permissible to streamline the remittal process by incorporating the requisite disclosures and consents into the parties’ and their counsel’s written agreement to transfer the case to veterans court.

Opinion 16-145 May a county Magistrates Association, at the request of a bar association and the county executive, comment on the bar association’s proposed assigned counsel plan before it is implemented by the county?

Opinion 16-146 (1) A judge who has filed a disciplinary complaint against the District Attorney is disqualified while the disciplinary proceeding is pending, and for two years after it is resolved, in any case where the District Attorney personally appears. Remittal is not available during this period unless the grievance committee imposes public discipline or the District Attorney waives confidentiality. (2) The judge may preside in cases where assistant district attorneys of the same office appear, even though the District Attorney is counsel of record, provided the judge is satisfied they were not involved in the District Attorney’s purported misconduct and assuming he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 16-147 May a town or village justice accept an invitation from a landlords’ association to participate in a panel discussion and answer questions about summary proceedings, evictions and holdover tenants?

Opinion 16-148 May a full-time judge serve as a director of a local not-for-profit Urban League, which seeks “[t]o provide opportunities for members of all communities in our city to have access to education, employment and a living environment that fosters mutual respect”?

Opinion 16-149 May a judge attend a free, non-partisan “meet the candidates” event, organized by a non-political community residents’ association, where all candidates for a particular office (i.e., both parties' candidates) will attend, speak and answer questions?

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Opinion 16-150 Two judicial candidates may send a joint mailing to voters who request an absentee ballot, provided they avoid any implication of a cross-endorsement.

Opinion 16-151 (1) A judge may establish a judicial mentoring program to help promote diversity in the judiciary, which will pair sitting or retired judges with attorneys who wish to seek judicial office. (2) A mentor judge may review and comment on an attorney mentee’s application to a judicial screening panel, and may share his/her own experience in going through the elective or appointive process to become a judge, but may not contact political party leaders or others on the mentee’s behalf. (3) The mentor judge must exercise particular caution to avoid any perception of involvement in impermissible political activity both before and after the mentee publicly declares his/her candidacy for election to judicial office. Therefore, the mentor judge must not advise his/her mentee on campaign strategy, campaign literature or other outreach to voters or political leaders. (4) A fully retired judge, who is not designated as a judicial hearing officer or otherwise performing judicial functions with the court system, is not subject to these limitations.

Opinion 16-152 A judge may not appear in a videotaped interview on behalf of a re-entry agency, which will be shown at the agency’s fund-raising event.

Opinion 16-153 (1) A trial judge whose minor child is participating in a charitable fund-raiser may personally solicit funds from family members and fellow judges not subject to his/her supervision, provided he/she does not use or invoke his/her judicial title or status in doing so. (2) A judge may not personally solicit funds from friends or neighbors. (3) A judge may, in his/her capacity as a parent, accompany his/her minor child as the child solicits funds from friends or neighbors, but may not otherwise assist or participate in the solicitation.

Opinion 16-154 A judge may, but is not required to, disclose his/her habitability concerns to a local code enforcement officer. If the judge does so, he/she may not preside over the resulting proceeding, and therefore may not issue a warrant for the code enforcement officer to enter the premises.

Opinion 16-155 A judge who, on learning of his/her second-degree relative’s informal counseling relationship with a defendant, promptly disclosed the relationship to both sides and advised his/her relative in writing not to discuss the case or the defendant in his/her presence, may continue to preside in the case, provided the judge can be fair and impartial. The judge must continue to take reasonable steps to discourage and limit ex parte communications. If such communications nonetheless occur, the judge may dispel any appearance of impropriety by disclosing them to both sides.

Opinion 16-156 A judge should not send a thank you note in response to a laudatory ex parte letter from an attorney who recently appeared before the judge.

Opinion 16-157 A full-time judge (1) may informally refer at-risk youth to religious or secular educational programs, assuming he/she does not frequently preside in matters involving at-risk youth and such programs do not appear before the judge or accept court referrals; (2) may serve as a paramedic with a local volunteer ambulance corps; (3) may not serve on the board of a regional emergency medical services council; and (4) may participate in a documentary film concerning his/her volunteer activities if it is produced by a not-for-profit entity, but may not participate in a commercially produced documentary. [Note: Point #4 modified by Opinion 17-163/18-03/18-21 with respect to commercial/non-commercial distinction.]

Opinion 16-158 May a judge attend a “Casino Night” fund-raiser at his/her child’s private pre-school and participate as a player?

Opinion 16-159 (1) A judge who is dissatisfied with an attorney’s explanation of the propriety of his/her conduct in connection with a proposed default divorce decree must determine, based on the facts and circumstances known to the judge, whether there is a substantial likelihood that the attorney’s actions constitute a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and, if so, must take appropriate action. (2) If the judge determines in good faith that he/she is legally permitted and/or legally required to sign the decrees, he/she may do so without violating the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, assuming he/she can be fair and impartial and is not otherwise disqualified from presiding in matters involving the attorney. The Committee suggests the judge consult with an administrative judge for assistance in navigating any applicable legal or administrative issues.

Opinion 16-160 A part-time judge whose first-degree relative is the police chief for the municipality where the judge presides is disqualified in any matter involving the municipal police department or its officers, subject to remittal where appropriate. [Note: Modified by Opinion 19-89 as of 1/1/2020; the disqualification cannot be remitted.]

Opinion 16-161 A full-time judge may serve on the admissions committee of a country club, assuming the club is non-profit, does not regularly engage in litigation, and does not invidiously discriminate, and provided that the judge’s service on the committee will not involve her/him in fund-raising, providing legal advice, or making decisions likely to lead to litigation.

Opinion 16-162 A County Court judge whose full-time court attorney is now a town justice within the same county may continue to preside over cases originating in or appealed from the Town Court, provided his/her court attorney is insulated from those cases and the insulation is disclosed on the record to all parties and their counsel. Because this disclosure is mandated in lieu of disqualification, if a party is appearing without counsel, the judge must disqualify him/herself. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 16-163/16-170 (1) A full-time judge who is both a former assistant public defender and a former private law firm partner, and whose former law firm colleague supervises all attorneys in the Public Defender’s office, is disqualified, subject to remittal, from all cases in which the Public Defender’s office appears for two years following complete termination of the financial and business relationship between the judge and his/her former law firm. (2) Once the two-year period is over, the judge may preside over cases in which the Public Defender’s office appears, provided he/she had no involvement in the case and was not the attorney of record. (3) However, the judge is perpetually disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, for all cases in which he/she had any involvement whatsoever as an attorney before assuming the bench.

Opinion 16-164 A new full-time judge may continue to serve as a receiver in foreclosure pursuant to an appointment received before assuming the bench, provided his/her duties are ministerial in nature and completed within one year, if possible.

Opinion 16-165 What are the obligations of a village justice who learns that the village plans to hire the village prosecutor's spouse as a full-time village court clerk?

Opinion 16-166 A judge is not disqualified from presiding in matters involving the District Attorney’s office merely because his/her law clerk is a former assistant district attorney and the law clerk’s second-degree relative is currently an assistant district attorney. However, the judge must insulate the law clerk from (a) cases in which the law clerk had any personal involvement as a lawyer and (b) cases in which the law clerk’s second-degree relative appears and disclose the circumstances, including that the law clerk is insulated.

Opinion 16-167 May a town justice simultaneously serve as a federal prosecutor?

Opinion 16-168 Where two years have passed since the election, the judge may appoint his/her former campaign treasurer to serve as a referee in a foreclosure action.

Opinion 16-169 May a judge circulate a petition to force a referendum on a proposed sale of a large nearby parcel of land owned by his/her local school district, where the petition does not take a position for or against the proposed sale and is not framed as support for or opposition to any legislator or political party or candidate?

(Opinion 16-170 is part of Opinion 16-163/16-170, above.)

(Inquiry 16-171 was withdrawn.)

(Inquiry 16-172 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 16-173 May individual judges and a judicial association publicly advance a position that a Constitutional Convention would present a risk to the security of their pensions, which are currently protected by provisions of the State Constitution?

Opinion 16-174 What are a village justice's obligations once a local probation officer is appointed to serve on the village board? Does it make a difference if they will also be on the same slate in an upcoming election? 

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Opinion 16-175 While a judge need not separately scrutinize all pleadings to determine whether his/her client is the issuing officer, the judge must not take a guilty plea, either by mail or in person, if the client's role as issuing officer is readily available, such as in those instances where the officer's name appears on the ticket.

Opinion 16-176 A full-time judge may not accept a collectible music album from a press photographer who regularly covers cases in the inquiring judge's courtroom.

Opinion 16-177 (1) A part-time judge may volunteer with a departmental grievance committee's diversion program as a mentor/monitor for an attorney referred to substance abuse treatment. The judge must disqualify him/herself in matters involving the attorney while the relationship is ongoing and for two years thereafter. During this period, disqualification is not subject to remittal unless the attorney waives confidentiality. (2) A part-time judge may volunteer with a bar association's lawyer assistance committee to encourage attorneys to participate in a 12-step recovery program or seek substance abuse counseling. Where the contacts are relatively minimal and occur exclusively in a group setting with other recovering attorneys, disqualification is not mandatory unless (a) the attorney asks the judge to recuse and/or (b) the judge doubts his/her ability to be fair and impartial. The judge must also advise the attorney that he/she will recuse on request, without explanation, if the attorney is uncomfortable with the judge presiding over a particular case as a result of the 12-step call. [Note: The legislature subsequently enacted Judiciary Law § 9, which states: “Any judge who recuses himself or herself from sitting in or taking any part in the decision of an action, claim, matter, motion or proceeding shall provide the reason for such recusal in writing or on the record; provided, however, that no judge shall be required to provide a reason for such recusal when the reason may result in embarrassment, or is of a personal nature, affecting the judge or a person related to the judge within the sixth degree by consanguinity or affinity.”  Resolution of a possible dissonance between the disclosures contemplated in Judiciary Law § 9 and the confidentiality described in Judiciary Law § 90(10) and/or § 499(1) involves legal questions we cannot address.  See generally Opinion 21-45.] 

Opinion 16-178 A judicial association may not submit an amicus brief to the Court of Appeals in a pending appeal to express its members' concern, as trial judges, about the practical effects of a recent Appellate Division decision that trial judges lack statutory authority to take a particular action in connection with sentencing. The judicial association and/or individual judges may instead propose changes to applicable statutes which affect sentencing procedures in their courts. However, if it is not possible to advocate for the desired statutory change without publicly commenting on a specific, identifiable case, they must wait until the case is completely resolved. 

Opinion 16-179 Digest: A judge may be a member of an all-female volunteer EMT service which responds to calls from women in a particular faith community who need emergency care, where the service was established to expand opportunities for women in the community and to preserve significant religious or cultural values of legitimate common interest to community members. However, a judge may not serve as director of the entity if that role requires him/her to personally engage in fund-raising and/or recruitment activities.

 

Numerical Listing of 2017 Opinions

[Jump to 20092010, 201120122013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 20202021, 2022]

Opinion 17-01 May a judge be a certified soccer referee member of a private, not-for-profit referee's association, and accept compensation for refereeing games? What restrictions apply for a full-time judge?

Opinion 17-02 May a part-time city court judge serve as a part-time attorney with legal aid in another county? What restrictions apply?

Opinion 17-03 (1) A judge who is disqualifying him/herself from cases involving New York City and its agencies due to his/her minor child's ongoing personal injury action against the city and its board of education may nonetheless preside in the following circumstances, assuming he/she can be fair and impartial:
(a) when a private law firm representing a defendant in the child's lawsuit appears before the judge in an unrelated matter, provided no party is appearing without counsel and the judge makes full disclosure on the record;
(b) in cases involving state public benefit corporations;
(c) in motions seeking to unseal records in possession of the District Attorney's Office, whether or not contested; and
(d) in a personal injury action against non-city defendants arising from an injury claimed to have occurred on a city street, notwithstanding that a separate action arising from the same injury, not pending before the judge, has been filed against the city. 
(2) In a matter where parties have requested records from the city (or one of its agencies) as a non-party:
(a) if the non-party city agency does not appear or take a position in the matter, the judge may continue to preside;
(b) if the non-party city agency appears or opposes a motion to quash or motion to unseal, the judge must either transfer the motion to another judge or disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal; but
(c) if a party files a motion seeking to punish a non-party city agency for contempt, the judge is disqualified from the entire case, subject to remittal. [Note: Modified by Opinion 20-63 re: judge’s obligation with respect to adverse party or counsel after the litigation terminates. Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.]

Opinion 17-04 A judge may not attend a three-day human trafficking seminar sponsored by federal prosecutorial and law enforcement agencies, where the program will focus primarily on strategies for effective prosecution.

Opinion 17-05 May a judge continue to preside in a contentious post-judgment matrimonial proceeding after a party, whom the judge previously sanctioned, has sued the judge and others involved in the proceeding for defamation?

Opinion 17-06 Under the circumstances, is a judge required to take any additional steps in response to second-hand information about an attorney's alleged misconduct?

Opinion 17-07 Must a judge report a real estate agent who forged his/her name on a letter of reference, mentioned the judge’s judicial status, and submitted the letter to a co-op board without the judge’s knowledge or consent?  Must a judge report an attorney he/she has never met, seen, or interacted with, based solely on information received from the judge’s relatives?

Opinion 17-08  A part-time judge whose former private employer has become the District Attorney has the following obligations when the District Attorney or his/her staff appears, during the two-year period following the termination of their former employment relationship: (1) In the first year, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from presiding in any case involving the District Attorney's office; (2) In the second year, disclosure is mandated in lieu of disqualification, and the judge may exercise discretion in determining any motion for recusal. During the entire two-year period, the judge may not preside in a case involving the District Attorney's office if a party is appearing without counsel. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

(Inquiry 17-09 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 17-10 May a newly elected judge preside over matters that arose during his/her prior tenure as the County Attorney?

Opinion 17-11 (1) It is a judge's obligation to determine whether a lay organization for men of a particular ethnicity and religion engages in invidious discrimination. (2) A full-time judge may perform with a non-profit orchestra and other musical groups that are not business entities and accept reasonable compensation for his/her performances, subject to certain limitations. (3) A full-time judge may publish his/her own musical compositions and receive royalties and performance rights fees for them.

Opinion 17-12 May a full-time judge speak to not-for-profit organizations affiliated with a certain religion, including domestic and foreign parochial schools and places of worship, about his/her background and experience in becoming a judge, so as to encourage others to pursue a legal career? If so, may the judge accept standard speaking fees and reasonable travel expenses?

Opinion 17-13 Where a judge's recusal for one attorney is specific to his/her personal assessment of that attorney's character, the judge is not disqualified from presiding in matters where that attorney's law partner appears as a part-time government attorney, provided that the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 17-14 (1) A multi-bench judge who has reported an attorney is disqualified from all matters in which the reported attorney appears, regardless of court or county, and regardless of whether the reported attorney is appearing as a public defender or a private attorney. The disqualification lasts while the disciplinary proceeding is pending and for two years after it is resolved. Remittal is not available during this period unless the grievance committee imposes public discipline or the reported attorney waives confidentiality. (2) Where the reported attorney is a part-time judge, the disqualification extends to cases in which the reported attorney has acted as a judge. (3) Where the reported attorney represents a defendant/participant in Treatment Court, the judge may not preside in the defendant/participant's case, even if the reported attorney files a waiver of appearance. [Note: Point #2 has been modified, in part, by Opinion 17-49.]

Opinion 17-15 A Family Court judge may send a sympathy card to the family of a decedent who was formerly the subject of juvenile delinquency proceedings before the judge.

Opinion 17-16 A new judge, who previously served as law clerk to his/her current supervising judge and attended multiple events at the judge's home, must disclose the relationship in cases involving the supervising judge's spouse's law firm. Thereafter, the judge may preside if he/she can be fair and impartial after considering all relevant factors. However, because disclosure is mandatory, the judge must disqualify him/herself if a party in the case is appearing without counsel. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 17-17 Where an attorney has unsuccessfully sought the judge's recusal in one case, and then filed a disciplinary complaint against a judge for declining to recuse, does the judge have an ongoing conflict with the attorney's law firm mandating the judge's recusal in all cases involving that law firm?

Opinion 17-18 A part-time judge may suggest that local legislators amend a penal statute to include a potential jail sentence so that, for alleged violations after the effective date, the court may issue an arrest warrant to produce recalcitrant defendants.

Opinion 17-19 When a judge's former court attorney has become the District Attorney, and the judge is therefore disqualified from matters involving the DA's office for one year, is such disqualification subject to remittal? 

Opinion 17-20 May a judge serve on the nominating committee for his/her house of worship?

(Inquiry 17-21 was withdrawn.)

(Inquiry 17-22 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 17-23 A judge whose window period has expired may keep his/her campaign account open for the purpose of paying outstanding legal bills from his/her former campaign, where the campaign committee’s sole activities are accepting deposits of the judge’s personal funds and making payments to discharge the campaign’s outstanding legal debt or liability. The campaign account must be closed as soon as practicable once the debt or liability is discharged.

Opinion 17-24 A full-time judge who presides in a high-volume part may hold annual or semi-annual meetings with the attorneys who appear before him/her to discuss administrative issues. These meetings may not involve catered meals paid for by attorneys, but the judge may host "brown bag luncheons" to which the participants may bring their own meals.

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Opinion 17-25 May a full-time judge serve on the tribunal of a not-for-profit entity as the representative of one of its constituent members, where the tribunal has "jurisdiction to hear and determine controversies and disputes" among various constituent members?

Opinion 17-26 A newly-elected judge may preside in matters involving an attorney who participated in the absentee ballot review process following the general election, provided the attorney had no other involvement in the judge's campaign and did not advocate on the judge's behalf during the absentee ballot review process.

Opinion 17-27 May a full-time trial-level judge have discussions with various public and private entities concerning potential post-judicial employment? After leaving the bench, may the judge appear before former colleagues?

Opinion 17-28 A candidate for judicial office may not respond to a questionnaire which, when seen as a whole, can only be seen as a series of implied pledges, promises, and commitments, touching on a wide variety of closely interrelated issues that may come before the judge if elected or re-elected.

(Inquiry 17-29 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 17-30 May part-time judges organize a free community "Law Day" event to be held at a local library or historical society where local attorneys would offer free 10-minute private consultations to the public?

Opinion 17-31 May a judge preside in a criminal case where the complainant is his/her co-judge's adult child, and the judge has no relationship with the complainant other than purely "happenstance" interactions?

Opinion 17-32 A town judge may permit his/her court clerks to certify that they will abide by the town ethics code, provided that doing so does not interfere or conflict with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 17-33 May a newly elected full-time judge complete his/her service as executor of a former client’s will by signing a deed necessary to transfer title to an heir?

Opinion 17-34 On receiving a guilty plea by mail to a Vehicle & Traffic Law charge, may a judge send a form letter advising the defendant what his/her sentence will be if the court accepts the plea and stating that if the defendant wishes to change his/her plea to not guilty, he/she should appear in court at a specified date and time?

Opinion 17-35 May a judge speak to an audience of animal control officers about court procedures in dangerous-dog and unlicensed-dog cases?

Opinion 17-36 May a town justice serve as the town attorney for another town in the same county, where there will be no prosecutorial component to that town attorney position?

Opinion 17-37 Digest: The Committee declines to answer hypothetical questions.

Opinion 17-38 (1) A judge who wishes to participate in a high-profile, apparently non-partisan march, whose purpose is to recognize the importance of scientific endeavors and rational thought in society, must monitor the march’s agenda and publicly reported affiliations and sponsorships in the period leading up to the event. The judge must not participate in the march unless the judge determines (a) the march is not co-sponsored by or affiliated with any political organization; (b) the march does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for election; (c) the judge’s participation will not involve the judge in impermissible political activity; and (d) the judge’s participation will not insert him/her unnecessarily into public controversy.  (2) A judge may not (a) call a Senate Committee to express an opinion on a pending federal executive branch appointment; (b) sign a MoveOn.org petition concerning a federal executive branch appointment, whether as a private citizen or otherwise; or (c) participate in a local political rally, march or demonstration sponsored by grassroots organizations, even if he/she would refrain from any speaking role.

Opinion 17-39 A full-time judge may serve on the board of a non-profit, non-partisan organization that advises governmental policymakers nationwide on criminal justice measures affecting public safety, where the organization does not engage in litigation, is unlikely to appear in the judge’s court, and the judge will not have the opportunity to make referrals to the entity. However, the judge may not personally engage in, or lend the prestige of judicial office to, fund-raising or membership solicitation; must not provide legal advice; and must not directly or indirectly engage in any political activity except as permitted by prior opinions on behalf of measures to improve the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.

(Inquiry 17-40 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 17-41 A judge whose first-degree relative has been hired as a law advisor to the local police department on matters unrelated to criminal investigations and prosecutions may preside in cases involving the police, provided the judge can be fair and impartial and his/her relative is not involved in the case.

Opinion 17-42 A part-time judge may also be a full-time academic SUNY employee administering and overseeing a SUNY-hosted police cadet academy.

Opinion 17-43 A part-time judge who wishes to run for non-judicial office may inform the local municipality in advance that he/she plans to resign from judicial office on a particular date, but must not disclose the reason for his/her resignation.

Opinion 17-44 A judge who believes a local attorney is under criminal investigation, but has no personal knowledge of any impropriety, may continue to preside in matters involving that attorney, provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 17-45 May a town justice continue to serve as County Attorney in the same county where he/she presides?

Opinion 17-46 A part-time judge may also serve as head of a county agency responsible for enforcing a particular county law, where the agency is the licensing authority for an industry and has authority to commence civil administrative proceedings but (i) is unlikely to be involved directly or indirectly in any cases in the judge's court, (ii) has no authority to prosecute legal or criminal proceedings in any court, and (iii) has no police powers or functions.

(Inquiry 17-47 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 17-48 The inquiring part-time attorney judge must report to the Commission on Judicial Conduct that another judge, while presiding over a case, threatened to file a disciplinary complaint against the inquirer unless the inquirer’s client settled the case for a particular sum.

Opinion 17-49 A county court judge who filed a disciplinary complaint against a town or village justice is not necessarily disqualified in all indictments and superior court informations which originated as felony complaints before that justice. However, during the pendency of the disciplinary complaint and for two years after it is resolved, the county court judge must carefully review the nature and extent of the justice's involvement in such matters to determine if recusal is warranted.

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Opinion 17-50 May a village justice hear a summary proceeding where the village attorney is appearing on behalf of a private client?

Opinion 17-51 May a full-time judge serve on the board of the not-for-profit religious community center that runs the school the judge's children attend?

Opinion 17-52 May a full-time judge hold a small percentage ownership in a limited liability company his/her spouse is forming to provide consulting services in his/her field, where the judge will not have any active role in the management or control of the business?

Opinion 17-53 (1) A judge who receives a social media message from the victim’s first-degree relative that contains substantive discussion of the case must disclose the ex parte communication to all parties. (2) Recusal is not mandated here and is within the sole discretion of the judge if such a request is made.

Opinion 17-54 When giving a speech about the law, the legal system or the administration of justice at a court-sponsored Law Day event, a judge should not publicly criticize or attack a sitting public official, or comment on his/her remarks. Rather, the judge should focus on the law to avoid casting doubt on his/her ability to perform judicial functions appropriately consistent with his/her legal and ethical duties.

Opinion 17-55 A judge may not directly or indirectly solicit property owners, car rental agencies, or food merchants on behalf of the Red Cross. However, the judge may use his/her skills as a logistics expert to plan and to manage supplies or donations as they are received and may also purchase items for disaster relief with a donated debit card, provided the judge does not solicit such a card. These principles apply without geographic limitation.

Opinion 17-56 Where a judge has reported an attorney to the grievance committee for more than one instance of alleged misconduct, the judge is disqualified from all matters involving the attorney until two years after resolution of all disciplinary proceedings on the reported incidents. During this period, the judge's disqualification is not subject to remittal unless the attorney waives confidentiality or the grievance committee issues a published disciplinary opinion. The disqualification does not extend to other members of the reported attorney's law firm if the judge is satisfied that the other attorneys were not involved in the purported misconduct and if the judge can be fair and impartial. [Note: As of June 2021, the Committee has not overruled its prior opinions prohibiting remittal, when the basis for disqualification is that the judge reported an attorney to the grievance committee.  See Opinion 21-45 concerning an apparent dissonance between Judiciary Law § 9 and Judiciary Law § 90(10).] 

Opinion 17-57 May a judge participate in a panel discussion concerning current issues in the prosecution of computer crime in the courts of New York, for an association of criminal investigators?

Opinion 17-58 A village court clerk may not accept appointment as associate village justice of the same court, even where he/she would act only in the absence of the other village justice.

Opinion 17-59 A judge who declined his/her college alma mater's invitation to be an honorary co-chair of a fund-raising event and, after receiving the printed invitation listing the judge as a co-chair, objected in writing and requested a retraction, is not obligated to take any further steps. The judge may attend the event, where doing so will create no appearance of impropriety.

Opinion 17-60 An announcement by the outgoing political party chair that next year’s party meeting will be held “in May 2018” is not sufficiently definite and reliable for judicial candidates to calculate the start of their window period. They may therefore assume that this year’s official date will be used again in 2018 and count back nine months from that presumed date.

Opinion 17-61 A judge may not intervene in a criminal defendant's appeal by advising the parties of his/her belief that he/she correctly stated the legal standard during voir dire, and that the transcript is erroneous, where the judge does not recall his/her exact words and the judge's alleged misstatement is a basis for the appeal.

Opinion 17-62 A part-time judge may accept employment as counsel to the county legislature, provided (1) his/her duties are clearly identifiable as those of an attorney representing a client and not as partisan political activity and (2) he/she is authorized to interact directly with all county legislators rather than service limited to legislators of a particular party and/or their constituents.

Opinion 17-63 May a part-time judge form a company to manufacture and sell custom-made robes to other judges online?

Opinion 17-64 May the Committee comment on past conduct?

Opinion 17-65 A village court clerk who is the village police chief’s third-degree relative must be insulated from all cases involving the village police.  Where such insulation would prevent the court clerk from performing his/her duties if hired, the village justice may not consent to the proposed employment.

Opinion 17-66 A judicial hearing officer may not serve on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

Opinion 17-67 A judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from all matters involving an attorney who was hired by the judge's second-degree relative to pursue litigation concerning real property in which the judge has an interest. This obligation continues for two years after the representation completely terminates. 

Opinion 17-68 (1) A judge may permit his/her court attorney to (a) host fund-raisers away from the courthouse during non-working hours to offset costs associated with the court attorney's international adoption and (b) use personal social media accounts to promote the fund-raisers. (2) The judge need not prohibit the court attorney from accepting donations from attorneys under Part 100, but the judge (a) must not permit any contributions to be made or fund-raising activities to occur during working hours or on court property and (b) must insulate him/her from all matters involving those attorneys. (3) The judge may attend the court attorney's fund-raisers and make contributions from his/her personal funds but may not assist with any solicitation.

Opinion 17-69 A full-time judge (1) may attend informational assemblies and leadership meetings organized by a not-for-profit umbrella entity which encompasses the judge's religious institution, even if pending litigation is on the agenda, provided the judge does not comment on the litigation; and (2) may invite his/her fellow congregants to attend such assemblies and leadership meetings.

Opinion 17-70 (1) A court attorney-referee who is an ordained rabbi may teach, preach, and write on Israel-related issues concerning the law, the legal system or the administration of justice, but not on non-legal matters of substantial public and political controversy, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (2) A court attorney-referee may join and participate in non-political events sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hiddush, which appear to have substantial non-political purposes, but may neither join nor attend events sponsored by J Street.

Opinion 17-71 May a judge who filed a disciplinary complaint against an assistant district attorney require the prosecutor's office to substitute a different assistant district attorney in an upcoming criminal case?

Opinion 17-72 May a judge interpose a pro se answer in a real estate case in which the judge and his/her siblings are named defendants?

Opinion 17-73 May a village justice acquiesce in a proposed merger of the clerical offices of the village court and the village executive branch?

Opinion 17-74 May a judge preside in matters involving a hospital that recently provided emergency medical care to the judge?

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Opinion 17-75 A judge whose non-attorney spouse is employed by a local public authority may preside in matters where a part-time employee of the same public authority, in his/her capacity as a private attorney, appears on behalf of criminal defendants or other private clients. The judge need not disclose that the attorney also works part-time for the same public authority that employs the judge's spouse.

Opinion 17-76 A judge must disqualify him/herself in cases involving a law firm that is representing the judge's first-degree relative and former law partner in a disciplinary investigation of their joint IOLA account. Remittal is not available unless the judge can fully disclose the fact and nature of the representation, and how it affects the judge's interests, without violating his/her relative's right to confidentiality. 

Opinion 17-77 A judge may be a housing resource for a third-degree relative on parole, but may not use the prestige of judicial office to seek exceptions to the parole board’s procedures

Opinion 17-78 Under the circumstances, a judge who objected orally and in writing to the appearance of his/her name in a letter soliciting funds for a charity need not take any further action.

Opinion 17-79 A judge may appear in a family photograph with his/her first-degree relative in the relative's campaign literature, provided the judge does not wear a judicial robe and nothing in the literature identifies him/her as a judge.

Opinion 17-80 A judicial association may accept an appropriate donation of food from a local restaurant for an upcoming cultural celebration open to the public.

Opinion 17-81 May a part-time judge give a presentation on civil enforcement and other related civil matters at an annual training conference for a sheriffs association?

Opinion 17-82 A full-time judge, in his/her capacity as administrator of a first-degree relative's estate, may act pro se at the closing for the estate's solely owned real property, where he/she will transfer an administrator's deed conferring ownership from the estate to the buyer, deposit the buyer's down payment into a title company's escrow account, compute and adjust routine home expenses such as taxes and utilities, and exchange checks payable by or to the estate.

Opinion 17-83 May a judge speak on the development of a particular area of law in New York State and in other jurisdictions, at a free, non-political event that is open to the public?

Opinion 17-84 May a judge give a regionally exclusive newspaper interview about his/her life story, religious activity, career path, and work-life balance?

(Inquiry 17-85 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 17-86 A full-time judge may not permit his/her part-time co-judge's partners and associates to engage in the practice of law before him/her and, thus, may not accept papers for filing which were evidently prepared by the co-judge's partner.

Opinion 17-87 May a full-time judge accept an anonymous gift of food, very modest in value, which was left in his/her chambers?

Opinion 17-88 May a judge serve on a committee established by a local prosecutor to address certain legal issues concerning a prosecutor's discovery obligations, where the committee will include the criminal defense bar, representatives of the local Legal Aid Society, the director of the local 18B panel, and senior prosecutors?

Opinion 17-89 May a town justice preside over matters assigned to staff attorneys in the Public Defender's office, after the Public Defender is elected to the Town Board?

Opinion 17-90 What are a judge's obligations on learning a law firm unilaterally altered an order of protection the judge issued against their client?

Opinion 17-91 May a full-time city court judge accept appointment by the county health commissioner to serve an unpaid hearing officer under the Public Health Law to adjudicate a certain category of health-related violations?

Opinion 17-92 A judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when a law student who appears before him/her pursuant to a student practice order is directly supervised by an attorney with whom the judge maintains a close personal relationship.

Opinion 17-93 May a judge who applied for employment with the local District Attorney's office preside in cases involving that office if he/she is not selected for the position or declines to take it?

Opinion 17-94 May a judge be a guest of honor at a not-for-profit arts entity's concert to celebrate local women leaders and trailblazers, and appear in a video of the event, where the concert and video will not involve any fund-raising?

(Inquiry 17-95 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 17-96 A JHO may serve on the advisory council for the housing part, which evaluates applicants and makes recommendations to the Chief Administrative Judge’s regarding housing court judges’ appointments.

Opinion 17-97 Where a housing court judge’s first-degree relative is president of a real estate management company, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, in all cases involving the company’s outside counsel.

(Inquiry 17-98 was withdrawn.)

(Opinion 17-99 merely declines to reconsider a prior opinion, without elaboration.)

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Opinion 17-100 How long must a full-time judge wait before presiding over new filings involving a former institutional client when an attorney, not affiliated with the judge's former law firm, now represents the former client? When does the disqualification period commence?

Opinion 17-101 May a judge meet privately with attorneys who represent criminal defendants concerning a "defense perspective" on the court's handling of "discovery, diversion and disposition of cases," where the meeting will expressly exclude any prosecutors?

Opinion 17-102 May a judge concurrently serve as a part-time City Court judge and a full-time Executive Director of a not-for-profit center for social and criminal justice?

Opinion 17-103 May a judge concurrently serve as a part-time City Court judge and a full-time Executive Director of a not-for-profit alcohol treatment program, to which the judge indirectly makes referrals?

Opinion 17-104 May a judge hold "off-hours" arraignments in a publicly accessible area of a county jail as part of an initiative to provide counsel to defendants at arraignment?

Opinion 17-105 A town justice need not prohibit his/her law firm employee from serving on the town board, provided the employee agrees in writing to abstain from any matters involving the justice court, including the judge's salary and the court's budget.

Opinion 17-106 (1) A support magistrate and his/her family may (a) accept donations and services from a not-for-profit organization for their special-needs child and (b) permit the organization to describe the project on its website and permit media coverage, provided the support magistrate takes reasonable steps to ensure his/her quasi-judicial position is not exploited for fund-raising or promotional purposes. (2) The support magistrate should contact the Unified Court System’s Ethics Committee concerning any possible reporting obligations. (3) If the support magistrate becomes aware a person appearing before him/her has donated time, money or services to the project, he/she must fully disclose for six months following the donation. As long as no party appears without counsel, the support magistrate may preside after disclosure as long as he/she can be fair and impartial. However, if a party is appears without counsel during this period, the support magistrate may not preside. If the donation was modest, the support magistrate has no further duty to disclose or recuse once the six-month period elapses. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 17-107 A judge must not permit or consider a witness's ex parte request to dismiss a traffic summons for a moving violation, unless the judge determines that applicable law specifically authorizes him/her to do so.

Opinion 17-108 A judge may not participate in a "Call to Service and Compassion Workshop" to honor child abuse victims and survivors hosted by a local child advocacy center.

Opinion 17-109 A judge who has received a copy of a disciplinary complaint letter filed by a litigant's relative against opposing counsel, but has not read the substance of the letter, has no obligation to disclose the communication. The judge may continue to preside over the case provided the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 17-110 A judge may suggest alternatives to a plea agreement offered by a defendant and prosecutor, provided the judge does so non-coercively and is careful not to create an impression he/she has prejudged the case's merits. Prior opinions are modified to clarify that a judge may, subject to significant ethical, constitutional, and statutory limits, initiate, suggest, or facilitate plea agreements.

Opinion 17-111 A judge may preside over matters involving his/her former matrimonial counsel where the representation was brief and preliminary.

Opinion 17-112 May a judge grant the probation department’s ex parte request to exempt from disclosure the victim impact statement contained in the pre-sentence investigation report?

Opinion 17-113 May a judge continue to serve as an acting village justice if his/her spouse is elected as a village trustee?

Opinion 17-114 A judge presiding over a civil matter involving allegations of sexual abuse committed by a non-party minor should not solicit pro bono representation for the non-party minor and should not direct the parties’ attorneys to solicit such representation.

Opinion 17-115 May a full-time judge participate in an educational video production about multi-systemic therapies, produced by a not-for-profit organization that provides such services, where the video is to be used as an engagement and educational tool for families and systems?

Opinion 17-116/17-132 (1) A judge must determine whether he/she has information indicating a substantial likelihood that another judge or an attorney has committed a substantial violation of the applicable professional ethics rules and, if so, must take appropriate action. (2) If the judge concludes the two-prong test is met and further concludes that another judge improperly attempted to influence the outcome of a case, the appropriate action is to report the other judge to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 17-117 May a judge permit a non-profit organization to advertise that the judge will be speaking at a non-fund-raising event co-sponsored by several not-for-profit religious and/or educational organizations?

Opinion 17-118 May a town justice continue presiding over (a) civil cases where the town is a party and (b) violations prosecuted by the town attorney pursuant to authority delegated by the District Attorney, when a person the judge has treated as a first-degree relative becomes town supervisor? 

Opinion 17-119 May a judge preside in Department of Social Services matters if his/her first-degree relative is hired as a paralegal or legal clerk by the County Attorney’s office? 

Opinion 17-120 (1) A judge whose court clerk sometimes serves as a foster parent by department of social services appointment generally may preside in cases involving the potential removal of a child. (2) The judge need not insulate the court clerk from such cases unless and until the judge becomes aware the court clerk is personally involved or is likely to have an interest in a specific disposition. (3) Where insulation is required, the judge must also make full disclosure. If any party who has appeared and not defaulted is appearing without counsel at the time of such disclosure, the judge must disqualify him/herself. Otherwise, the judge retains full discretion to preside after full disclosure, even if there is an objection. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

(Inquiry 17-121 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 17-122 A full-time judge may permit his/her law clerk to serve on a local zoning board of appeals. The judge may preside in cases involving the ZBA, provided the law clerk is insulated from those cases and the insulation is disclosed on the record to all parties and their counsel. Because this disclosure is mandated in lieu of disqualification, if a party is appearing without counsel, the judge must disqualify him/herself. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 17-123 A judge who presides in veterans treatment court may write to legislators asking for names of potential peer mentors to work with veteran-defendants in the program, provided the judge avoids both actual coercion and its appearance when requesting participation. Alternatively, the judge may authorize his/her resource coordinator or mentor coordinator to write such a letter.

Opinion 17-124 May a judge be the announced speaker for the annual tea party of a not-for-profit charitable entity, where the tea party includes an advertised raffle/auction in an adjacent room?

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Opinion 17-125 A part-time village justice may hold full-time employment as a training director with a city’s independent emergency communications department, where he/she oversees training of an all-civilian staff and does not supervise dispatchers or perform dispatch duties.

Opinion 17-126 A judge may continue to preside in a declaratory judgment action, even after learning that his/her spouse's employer, a non-party with no involvement in the subject matter of the dispute, made political contributions to a named respondent, provided the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial. The judge need not make any disclosure.

Opinion 17-127 A Surrogate may not appoint his/her former law firm associate as public administrator until two years from the complete termination of their business relationship, including final payment of any fees pending or owed between them.

(Inquiry 17-128 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 17-129 May a town justice (1) hire a part-time court clerk who is the spouse of a police investigator in a special investigations unit for a nearby city; (2) permit the court clerk to continue to serve on the local school board; and (3) allow the clerk, on his/her own time and away from court premises?

Opinion 17-130 May a judge preside in a criminal case where the complainant is an assistant district attorney who has occasionally appeared as a prosecutor before the judge?

Opinion 17-131 A judge may participate in an interview with a not-for-profit entity which provides mediation services in a court where the judge formerly presided, subject to certain limitations.

(Opinion 17-132 is part of Opinion 17-116/17-132, above.)

Opinion 17-133 Amended (1) Where a judge is currently facing criminal charges in a neighboring county, arising from accusatory instruments issued by the specialized department or agency that oversees a comprehensive regulatory scheme, the judge may resume or continue to perform his/her judicial duties, except that he/she must not preside in cases involving (a) the department or agency that issued the accusatory instruments, (b) other alleged violations of the same comprehensive regulatory scheme, or (c) the District Attorney’s office that is prosecuting him/her. (2) The judge may not undertake to serve as his/her co-judge’s assistant or subordinate during the pendency of the criminal charges by making non-binding recommendations on traffic tickets subject to his/her co-judge’s review and approval.

Opinion 17-134 (1) May a judge serve as a director, board member or president of a domestic not-for-profit corporation, which seeks tax exempt status, to help promote women into leadership positions "across all fields of endeavor"? May he/she educate others within the organization about how to raise funds? (2) May a judge provide an employment reference for an attorney who is a former colleague? What are the judge's ethical obligations in matters involving the attorney and his/her new employer if he/she does provide a reference?

Opinion 17-135 A judge who has first-hand knowledge that another judge improperly attempted to influence the outcome of a case before him/her must report the other judge to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 17-136 May a part-time town justice accept paid employment as an advisor to a consulting firm which was retained by a municipality (other than the one in which he/she sits) to conduct a study on the feasibility of subsuming its village court into the larger town court?

Opinion 17-137 May a part-time judge accept an award as Citizen of the Year from a local not-for-profit entity at a non-fund-raising dinner, and permit the award to be advertised in advance?

Opinion 17-138 Where a litigant has provided a judge with a copy of a purported disciplinary complaint but the Commission on Judicial Conduct has not contacted the judge about any pending investigation or complaint, the judge may presume no investigation or complaint is now pending.

Opinion 17-139 (1) Where a slate advertisement makes direct or indirect pledges or promises on behalf of the slate which are unrelated to the faithful and impartial performance of adjudicative duties, the judicial candidate must not consent to their inclusion unless the advertisement makes clear that these statements reflect only the position of the candidates for non-judicial office. (2) Judicial candidates may state their subjective view of their qualifications relative to an opponent’s but must ensure the supporting statements are truthful and not misleading. (3) A non-incumbent judicial candidate must be careful not to imply he/she is an incumbent and, thus, must use words such as “for” or “elect” rather than merely stating his/her name and the position sought.

Opinion 17-140 Where a prosecutor has provided certain Brady materials involving a particular police officer in one case, what should the judge do in a hypothetical future case involving the same police officer, if the prosecutor fails to make the same disclosure?

Opinion 17-141 Although a part-time judge may accept 18-B assignments, he/she may not serve as administrator of the county’s 18-B plan, even if a bar association initially reviews the 18-B vouchers for irregularities.

Opinion 17-142 A town justice (1) may not directly or indirectly oppose a candidate for non-judicial public office, including by distributing handouts about the other candidate's actions or qualifications; (2) may comment on, testify about, or otherwise publicly oppose a proposal to reduce the town court to a single justice; and (3) may, as a candidate for judicial office, respond to attacks on the judge's record, so long as any such response is made truthfully and without distortion.

Opinion 17-143 (1) A judge who co-owns real property with an attorney is disqualified, subject to remittal, from cases in which that attorney appears, for the duration of the co-ownership relationship and for two years after it completely terminates. (2) Where the co-ownership interest is not likely to result in frequent disqualification, the judge need not divest him/herself of the interest. (3) The judge may accept rent from an attorney tenant, but must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, for the duration of the landlord/tenant relationship. This obligation ends when the landlord/tenant relationship completely terminates. (4) Transfer of the judge’s interest to his/her spouse or close family member slightly diminishes, but does not end, the judge’s obligations: The judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when the attorney co-owner appears before the judge as an attorney or a party, but not when he/she appears as a witness. (5) Transfer of the judge’s interest to a third party who is not a member of the judge’s family constitutes divestment of the judge’s interest. Thus, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, whenever the former co-owner appears for two years from the date the former co-ownership relationship completely terminates, meaning after the sale is complete and final payment has been made. After the two-year period, the judge has no further obligation.

Opinion 17-144 A town or village justice who is not a notary public may authenticate documents where legally permitted to do so, provided he/she does not improperly lend the prestige of judicial office to advance private interests or otherwise create an appearance of impropriety. An otherwise permissible good-faith authentication of a document does not become improper merely because it is submitted in litigation.

Opinion 17-145 A village justice may permit the court clerk to complete a college internship for a district attorney’s office located in a different county.

Opinion 17-146 A judge may attend a free public conference on human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children, where the program will focus primarily on helping identify and assist at-risk youth.

Opinion 17-147 A judge who receives a phone call from another judge concerning an unspecified case before him/her, but who never learns any information sufficient to identify the case, has no obligation to take any action concerning the other judge’s conduct. The judge has full discretion to take, or not take, any steps concerning the other judge’s conduct as he/she deems appropriate.

Opinion 17-148 May a full-time judge (1) give free legal advice to union members at a union-sponsored event and/or (2) lecture non-lawyer union members on general legal topics at a union-sponsored event?

(Inquiry 17-149 was withdrawn.)

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Opinion 17-150 (1) A new full-time judge who previously represented clients as a non-supervisory conflict defender and as a private attorney: (a) is permanently disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, in any case where he/she previously participated as an attorney; (b) is disqualified, subject to remittal, from all matters involving his/her former clients, for two years after the relationship completely ends; (c) is disqualified, subject to remittal, from matters involving individuals he/she recognizes as clients of his/her former law partner, for two years after assuming the bench; and (d) may preside in matters involving his/her prior conflicts office colleagues, provided the judge had absolutely no involvement in the case and was not the attorney of record, assuming the judge can be fair and impartial. 
(2) A judge whose second-degree relative serves as a non-supervisory assistant public defender: (a) is disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, from cases in which his/her relative personally appears in the courtroom as counsel; (b) is disqualified, subject to remittal, in cases where his/her relative participates as counsel behind the scenes but does not personally appear in the courtroom; and (c) may preside in matters involving his/her relative’s public defender office colleagues, provided the relative has absolutely no involvement in the case and is not the attorney of record.
(3) Other judges of the court may preside in matters where their co-judge’s second-degree relative appears as counsel, assuming they can be fair and impartial.
(4) A judge who knows he/she must disqualify him/herself in a particular case must do so at the outset and may not first conduct an arraignment or sign a search warrant application.

Opinion 17-151 A judge may participate in a steering committee that plans an annual educational conference concerning adult abuse, where the conference is unlikely to be perceived as a law enforcement program and the steering committee’s membership includes both defense and prosecutorial perspectives.

Opinion 17-152 (1) A Family Court judge may inform children that the court is willing to display their artwork in public spaces and identify them by first name or initials and may personally solicit donations of children’s artwork for display in Family Court from local school teachers and/or children who have pending permanency hearings. (2) The judge may personally send a thank-you note to a teacher or child who sends artwork to the court, but should copy all parties or their attorneys if the child is appearing before the court. Alternatively, the judge may direct the chief clerk to send a thank-you note on behalf of the court. (3) Subject to any appropriate administrative approvals, the judge may direct the Family Court to (a) issue a press release about the court’s children’s art gallery and invite children to submit artwork; (b) invite the child artists, their families, and, if applicable, their attorneys, to an “opening” display of their artwork; and (c) accept the children’s artwork as gifts to the Unified Court System.

Opinion 17-153 Where a judge’s court attorney is negotiating potential employment with a large administrative agency that is a party to nearly every case before the judge, the judge must insulate the court attorney from all cases involving that agency. Insulation on this basis is subject to remittal after full disclosure, provided that no party is appearing without counsel. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 17-154 May a town justice serve as president of a local, private not-for-profit cemetery in the town where he/she presides?

Opinion 17-155 A judge may speak about landlord/tenant law at a free educational forum organized by elected officials, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct.

Opinion 17-156 What steps should a full-time judge take on realizing that his/her membership in a for-profit investment club is not permissible?

Opinion 17-157 May an individual who has recently assumed full-time judicial office: (a) file a closing statement with OCA in an action and have releases signed and mailed; (b) deposit the settlement check; (c) distribute the client’s portion of the settlement proceeds; and (d) file a closing statement in an action.

Opinion 17-158 A judge who believes an attorney has revealed the name of the respondent judge in a disciplinary investigation (1) need not report the attorney to the Commission on Judicial Conduct; (2) has wide discretion to determine whether the information received reveals a substantial likelihood the lawyer committed a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and, if so, what action is appropriate; and (3) may, in his/her sole discretion, direct the attorneys not to reveal the identity of the respondent judge and remind them of the Commission's confidentiality requirements.

Opinion 17-159 Under these circumstances, a town justice may respond to the town's fraud risk questionnaire about the financial and anti-fraud controls in the town court.

Opinion 17-160 A part-time judge, a licensed life/health insurance broker, is disqualified, subject to remittal, in cases involving his/her policyholder customers until their mutual business/financial relationship totally ends. 

Opinion 17-161 A judge who had, as an assistant district attorney, prosecuted a case in which the DA’s office now seeks to reevaluate the conviction may, but is not required to, meet with attorneys seeking to vacate that conviction. The fact that the judge has met with the prosecutorial office that is currently re-investigating the case does not change the analysis.

Opinion 17-162 A judge who was the District Attorney when a defendant was convicted may not preside in a subsequent application to seal the criminal conviction pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law § 160.59.

Opinion 17-163/18-03/18-21 Subject to certain limitations, a full-time judge may, without compensation, (1) participate in an interview for a commercially produced television documentary series concerning a case he/she prosecuted over a decade ago, provided the case has completely terminated and no related proceedings are pending or impending; (2) appear occasionally on a commercially produced news program hosted by his/her first-degree relative, to share family-friendly jokes or riddles; and (3) appear on a commercially produced news segment in honor of the achievements of individuals who share a particular racial, ethnic, or cultural background or heritage. In each instance, the judge need not conceal his/her identity as a judge or his/her participation in the program but should not personally promote the program to the public at large.

Opinion 17-164 A judge who has reliable, first-hand knowledge in his/her appellate capacity that another judge is willfully disregarding both his/her judicial duties and a court order instructing him/her to perform those duties as necessary for an appeal, to the litigants' detriment, must report the other judge's conduct to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

(Inquiry 17-165 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 18-57/17-166 A judge does not violate the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct by fulfilling his/her statutory powers, functions, and duties as a licensing officer in good-faith reliance on statutory authority and administrative guidance on how to exercise that authority. However, the judge must still abide by generally applicable ethical principles, to the extent necessary and appropriate, even when acting as a licensing officer, and thus the judge (1) must not be swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism; (2) must respect and comply with the law, including any due process requirements for such proceedings; and (3) must act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity and impartiality.

(Note: Former Opinion 17-166 has been rescinded and replaced by Joint Opinion 18-57/17-166.)

Opinion 17-167 (1) With respect to attorneys who are personally involved in a judge’s first-degree relative’s representation in either a direct or supervisory capacity: (a) During the representation, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when those attorneys appear before him/her. Remittal is unavailable if any party is appearing without counsel, if the judge is unwilling or unable to make full disclosure, or if the judge is uncertain he/she can be fair and impartial. (b) For two years after the representation ends, the judge may not preside in matters involving those attorneys unless all parties are represented by counsel and the judge makes full disclosure on the record. After disclosure, the judge may preside, even if a party objects, provided he/she can be fair and impartial. (c) After the two-year post-representation period, the judge has no further obligation and may preside in all matters involving those attorneys, provided he/she can be fair and impartial. (2) With respect to other attorneys in the same law firm who have no involvement whatsoever in the judge’s first-degree relative’s representation, the judge may preside as long as he/she can be fair and impartial, and has no obligation to disclose or disqualify him/herself. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

(Opinion 17-168 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 17-169/17-170 (1) A full-time County/Family Court judge who previously was a practicing attorney in the same county: (a) is permanently disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, from matters in which the judge participated as an attorney in any way, including minimally, in a personal or supervisory capacity; and (b) is disqualified, subject to remittal, from matters involving his/her former clients for two years after the relationship completely ends or final payment of any fees pending or owed to the judge, whichever is later. 
(2) In addition, where the judge previously headed the Public Defender’s office: (a) the judge is permanently disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, from cases that were pending in that office during the judge’s tenure as the Public Defender, regardless of whether the judge had actual knowledge of or involvement in a particular matter; (b) the judge may immediately preside in newly filed Public Defender cases, even when handled by assistant public defenders the judge previously supervised, provided (i) the new case has no substantial connection with a case pending during the judge’s prior tenure and (ii) the judge can be fair and impartial; (c) on becoming aware that a newly filed Public Defender case has “substantial connections” that are material and relevant to a case that was pending in that office during his/her tenure as the Public Defender, the judge must fully disclose the connection between the two cases, as well as the nature and extent of his/her involvement in the prior proceeding, but may thereafter preside subject to certain limitations; and (d) the judge may preside in cases that do not involve the Public Defender’s office, even though that office currently represents or represented a “co-defendant” in a separate case where the judge had no involvement, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 17-171 May a part-time town or village justice serve as law clerk to a Supreme Court Justice? 

Opinion 17-172 May a part-time town or village justice serve as the County Attorney or an Assistant County Attorney within the same county where he/she presides?

Opinion 17-173 A part-time judge may not supervise the emergency medical services division in the sheriff's office in the county where the judge presides.

Opinion 17-174 (1) Subject to certain limitations, a judge may serve as master of ceremonies for a close personal friend's public swearing-in ceremony. (2) A judge may sing the national anthem at a not-for-profit organization's fund-raiser, provided the judge's participation is unannounced and ancillary to the event.

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Opinion 17-175 A full-time judge who has advised a former client that he/she (a) can no longer practice law and (b) has already personally turned over the entire trial file to the former client, need not take any further action in response to the former client's threat to report the judge for allegedly not returning the trial file.

Opinion 17-176 Before seeking ethics advice on how to interact with unrepresented litigants, a New York City Housing Court judge should first consult with his/her supervising or administrative judge concerning applicable policies, procedures, and resources.

Opinion 17-177 Where a judge has reliable, first-hand knowledge that another judge attempted to use his/her judicial status to influence the bail decision in a family member's criminal case, but the other judge never revealed his/her name: (1) if the judge knows the other judge's identity, he/she must report him/her to the Commission on Judicial Conduct; but (2) if the judge does not know the other judge's identity, he/she has no obligation to investigate or take any further action.

Opinion 17-178 May a town justice whose spouse holds a strictly administrative position as Captain of Staff Services for the local police department preside in matters involving local police? 

Opinion 17-179 Subject to certain conditions and limitations, a full-time judge who is the president of an ethnic bar association may participate as the bar association president in a meeting with a DA-elect's transition team on issues involving the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.

Opinion 17-180 Must a town justice whose law practice has absolutely no affiliation with the law practice of his/her first-degree relative (parent or child) prohibit the relative from appearing before other judges in the same court?

Opinion 17-181 Under the circumstances, a judge who inadvertently presided in a matter involving a recent former client, and received ex parte communications from the former client after deciding the matter adversely to him/her, must make full disclosure to both sides by letter to counsel. The judge must disqualify him/herself from any post-trial, post-judgment applications and any other proceedings in the matter.

Opinion 17-182 A full-time judge (1) may retain a pharmacy license and (2) may volunteer as a hospital pharmacist in a cancer research project, subject to the usual limitations on judicial speech and conduct.

Opinion 17-183 May a part-time judge also serve as a full-time deputy county attorney in Family Court, handling juvenile delinquency matters pursuant to article 3 of the Family Court Act?

Opinion 17-184 May a support magistrate also serve as a part-time town justice?

Opinion 17-185 Where a Family Court judge has a remittable conflict in a neglect proceeding, remittal of disqualification requires the consent of all parties and statutorily defined "interested persons" who have appeared and not defaulted in the proceeding. Remittal is not available if any party or interested person appears without counsel. However, remittal does not require the consent of an interested person who fails to appear or participate in the case. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

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Numerical Listing of 2018 Opinions

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Opinion 18-01 If permitted by governing law, regarding documents that require the judge’s signature and whose contents include elements of judicial discretion, it is ethically permissible for the judge to authorize a court clerk to affix the judge’s signature to the document, provided (1) the judge has not, in fact, delegated his/her judicial functions, but personally made the decision; and (2) the judge consents to the use of the signature stamp on that document.

Opinion 18-02 A judge who formerly served as a probation officer: (1) is disqualified from all cases in which he/she previously served as a probation officer; (2) may preside in unrelated cases involving his/her former probation clients, provided he/she can be fair and impartial; and (3) must disclose his/her prior service as a probation officer if he/she becomes aware of a material, relevant connection between the case currently before him/her and a case in which he/she previously served as probation officer. Where disclosure is mandated, the judge may preside after such disclosure, provided no party is appearing without counsel and the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

(Opinion 18-03 is part of Opinion 17-163/18-03/18-21, above.)

Opinion 18-04(A) (1) A new full-time judge who previously served as a prosecutor without supervisory responsibilities is permanently disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, in any case where he/she had any involvement whatsoever as an attorney. (2) Provided he/she can be fair and impartial, the judge may otherwise preside in (a) cases prosecuted by his/her former public sector colleagues, including his/her former supervisors and current social acquaintances, and (b) new, unrelated cases involving individuals the judge previously prosecuted, even if they involve the same type, or similar type of crime. Disclosure is not mandatory.

Opinion 18-04(B) If permitted by governing law, regarding documents that require the judge’s signature and whose contents include elements of judicial discretion, it is ethically permissible for the judge to authorize a court clerk to affix the judge’s signature to the document, provided (1) the judge has not, in fact, delegated his/her judicial functions, but personally made the decision; and (2) the judge consents to the use of the signature stamp on that document.

Opinion 18-05 (1) A judge must not chair a Red Cross blood drive or solicit blood donors. (2) A judge and his/her co-judge may make a charitable contribution to their house of worship by purchasing an advertisement in the weekly bulletin identifying themselves by name and title and signing it “your local magistrates.”

Opinion 18-06 May a judge preside in matters involving the District Attorney’s Office where his/her domestic partner is employed as a confidential secretary and office administrator? 

Opinion 18-07 May a part-time town justice also serve as a county employee in the same county where he/she presides, either as (1) a senior network administrator for the county government’s information technology department or as (2) director of information technology for the county?

Opinion 18-08 A judge, who is working with prosecutors and defense lawyers to establish a local problem-solving court addressing mental health issues, may ask state legislators for financial support for this project.

Opinion 18-09 A judicial hearing officer must not engage in political activities as long as the JHO designation has not been rescinded, even though an administrative judge has stated that the JHO will not be given any assignments in the current fiscal year.

Opinion 18-10 A judge who has concerns a new judge may not fully understand his/her judicial duties, but lacks reliable information suggesting possible misconduct by the other judge, has full discretion to take, or not take, any action in response to such conduct.

Opinion 18-11 May a part-time judge accept seasonal employment with a company owned by two deputy sheriffs who are employed in the same county, where these deputy sheriffs, and others subject to their supervision, are likely to issue tickets in matters which will be heard in the judge’s court?

Opinion 18-12 (1) A judge whose spouse is a county legislator is disqualified from cases where the spouse or county legislature is a named party. (2) If the judge’s spouse has no personal involvement in the case before him/her and the judge can be fair and impartial, and absent additional factors creating an appearance of impropriety, the judge may otherwise preside in: (a) matters challenging a county law, ordinance or code provision, even if his/her spouse strongly supported or opposed the law as a legislator; (b) county-related matters over which his/her legislator spouse exercised some quantum of oversight or expressed criticism or praise; and (c) matters involving county departments, entities, or employees.

Opinion 18-13 May a judge ethically proceed with an off-hours arraignment if the defendant is not represented by counsel and, if not, how long must the judge wait for defense counsel to appear before adjourning the matter?

Opinion 18-14 A judge in his/her window period may use his/her own personal funds to make sponsor-level charitable donations, and permit the entity to acknowledge the donation by prominently displaying the judge’s name and judicial title, without reference to the “fair value” rule, provided these advertisements contain no reference to his/her campaign.

Opinion 18-15 A judge may not serve on a local committee to address bail reform whose membership will consist exclusively of defense representatives and community members since the organizers have declined to invite any prosecutorial, police, or law enforcement agency representatives.

Opinion 18-16 After fully retiring from all positions in the court system, may a part-time judge who also serves as law clerk for an administrative or supervising judge appear in courts in the same county and municipality and accept assigned counsel appointments?

Opinion 18-17 May a part-time justice (1) complete his/her prior Part 36 assignments that he/she received prior to taking the bench, including as a referee in foreclosure, and (2) accept new assignments as a referee in foreclosure matters.  [Note: Point #1 modified by Opinion 19-125.]

Opinion 18-18 A judge may accompany students to the criminal trial of an individual who is charged with assaulting them, in his/her capacity as their official mentor, provided the judge (1) sits in the audience, (2) does not act as an attorney in the matter, (3) does not have any ex parte contact with the presiding judge, and (4) does not refer to or invoke his/her judicial status or otherwise lend the prestige of judicial office to the students.

Opinion 18-19 May a part-time town justice who previously served as the Town Attorney preside over matters involving attorneys he/she had hired to serve as town prosecutors? 

Opinion 18-20 Subject to any required administrative approvals, a court attorney-referee may, without compensation, independently prepare and produce a noncommercial educational video providing legal information concerning the requirements and procedures for entitlement programs such as Medicare or Medicaid. The referee must not refer to his/her quasi-judicial office in the video and must abide by all applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct, including the prohibitions on offering legal advice, advocating particular strategies, and promoting private interests.

(Opinion 18-21 is part of Opinion 17-163/18-03/18-21, above.)

Opinion 18-22 A new full-time judge who previously served as guardian ad litem in a federal case may (1) voluntarily provide a factual statement or affidavit about his/her former service as guardian ad litem; (2) respond to the federal judge’s questions about whether a new guardian ad litem should be appointed; and (3) appear pro se concerning his/her fees for work previously performed as guardian ad litem.

Opinion 18-23/18-56 (1) A County Court judge whose full-time court attorney is also a town justice within the same county must insulate the court attorney from every matter that touches on an incident over which the court attorney presided as a town court justice, even if it was a completely separate case. The insulation must also be disclosed on the record to all parties and their counsel, and, since disclosure is mandated here in lieu of outright disqualification, the County Court judge must recuse if any party appears without counsel. (2) A town justice who is a full-time law clerk to a superior court judge may preside over criminal matters returned to the originating court, provided he/she was insulated from such matters as a law clerk. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 18-24 A judge need not take any action against an attorney who was the defendant in an uncontested action for annulment based on fraud, where the attorney’s admissions do not suggest the attorney engaged in illegal or unethical conduct.

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Opinion 18-25 (1) A judge does not violate the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct by fulfilling his/her statutory powers, functions, and duties as a licensing officer in good-faith reliance on statutory authority and administrative guidance on how to exercise that authority. (2) The Committee cannot address legal questions such as whether or how a judge, in his/her capacity as a firearm licensing officer, may consider an applicant’s request to lift the suspension of a firearm license or which persons must be notified and given an opportunity to participate.

Opinion 18-26 May a town or village justice allow his/her court clerks to send notice of animal abuse convictions to the Sheriff’s Department pursuant to a county animal abuse registry law?

Opinion 18-27 A judge whose second-degree relative is the First Deputy District Attorney may preside in criminal cases if he/she is satisfied that his/her relative is completely insulated from any involvement in evaluation, supervision or oversight of any matter that may be assigned to the judge. 

Opinion 18-28 (1) The judiciary has a strong interest in bringing to light possible repeated or systemic perjury or corruption on the part of institutional witnesses which, if unaddressed by appropriate authorities, could adversely affect the judicial process and undermine public confidence in the judiciary. (2) Thus, a judge, any time in his/her sole discretion, may forward published decisions that appear to involve corrupt or perjured police officers to an appropriate investigative authority, including a police department's Inspector General. Such conduct is not impermissible merely because the Inspector General requested them. (3) Absent a legal duty to comply with the Inspector General's request, a judge may, in his/her sole discretion, decline to respond.

Opinion 18-29 A judge with personal knowledge that an attorney has made perjurious statements in an affirmation must report the attorney to the appropriate attorney disciplinary committee.

Opinion 18-30 A judge whose first-degree relative is a part-time dispatcher with the sheriff’s department: (1) is not automatically disqualified from presiding over cases involving the sheriff’s department and need not affirmatively ask if his/her relative served as dispatcher; (2) should instruct the relative to advise the judge if he/she is likely to become a witness or otherwise appear in the judge’s court but otherwise discourage any discussion of the relative’s work as a dispatcher; and (3) is disqualified from a case, without the possibility of remittal, if he/she learns the relative was the dispatcher on the case and could be called as a witness.

Opinion 18-31 A new Surrogate’s Court judge who sold his/her cabinet of wills to an attorney for a one-time payment: (1) may not preside in any cases involving the purchased wills and (2) is disqualified, subject to remittal, in all other cases involving the attorney for two years following the payment for the files. During the two-year disqualification period, the judge may not preside in any uncontested cases involving the attorney who purchased the wills, as remittal would not be possible. 

Opinion 18-32 A judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when an attorney who represents his/her first-degree relative in a tax certiorari matter appears before the judge. After the representation has concluded, the judge must disclose the relationship to all parties and their counsel for a two-year period. After the two-year period has elapsed, neither disclosure nor disqualification is required. 

Opinion 18-33 May a judge preside over matters involving attorneys who work for the same not-for-profit legal services firm as the judge’s spouse?

Opinion 18-34 A full-time quasi-judicial official may not appear on a private law firm’s podcast.

Opinion 18-35 (1) A judicial candidate may not permit another person to purchase a $2,000 ticket to a political event and donate it to his/her campaign but may permit his/her campaign committee to request admission for $250 even though others must pay $2,000. (2) A judge’s obligation to disqualify him/herself from matters involving an attorney who has offered to host a single fund-raiser for the judge does not commence until invitations to the fund-raiser have been sent out. Once the invitations have been sent, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from all matters involving the attorney and his/her partners and associates, during the election campaign. This obligation ends on Election Day.

Opinion 18-36 A judge may promote diversity in courtroom participation by including a statement in his/her part rules encouraging litigators to give their knowledgeable junior colleagues more speaking and leadership roles in his/her courtroom.

Opinion 18-37 A judge who learns that a litigant or attorney in a case before him/her was formerly his/her law clerk's client in an unrelated legal malpractice action may continue to preside in the case, assuming he/she can be fair and impartial, and disclosure is not required. Absent factors creating an appearance of impropriety, the judge need not insulate the law clerk.

Opinion 18-38 Absent any factors that would create an appearance of impropriety, a judge who has taken over a case on another judge’s retirement due to age may initiate ex parte communications with the retired judge concerning that case, and may discuss legal and factual issues with him/her. The judge need not disclose such communications to the parties or their counsel.

Opinion 18-39 A full-time judge may serve on the board of trustees of a not-for-profit firefighters museum, and his/her judicial title may appear on the entity’s letterhead if similar titles appear with other board members. He/she may not use the prestige of judicial office to raise funds or solicit members.

Opinion 18-40 A full-time judge (1) may serve on the board of a county’s assigned counsel program, where the program does not engage in litigation but instead contracts with private attorneys to undertake the representations; (2) may appoint qualified attorneys as assigned counsel in legally appropriate circumstances, even when those attorneys are his/her fellow directors; (3) may not serve on the board of a not-for-profit landlord that brings eviction proceedings in his/her court.

Opinion 18-41 Judges and court clerks may not attend a training program sponsored by the county Ignition Interlock Monitor, where the program will address post-conviction sentencing compliance enforcement, the faculty expressly excludes defense perspectives, and the defense bar has not been invited to attend the program. Addendum: After this inquiry was decided, the organizers invited the Public Defender to participate on the faculty panel. In our view, the Public Defender’s participation here will help ensure balance and minimize the risk that the program will be seen as a one-sided, law enforcement program. Accordingly, judges and their court clerks may attend.

Opinion 18-42 (1) When an attorney prepares a last will and testament for a judge, and thereafter merely stores the executed original in a safe or safe deposit box pursuant to the attorney’s customary practice, the judge may treat the representation as concluded once all legal work is completed and all fees are fully paid. (2) Where the representation involved simple reciprocal last wills and testaments for the judge and his/her spouse, and four years have elapsed since the representation concluded, the judge may preside in matters involving the attorney and his/her associates as long as he/she can be fair and impartial. Disclosure is left entirely to the judge’s discretion. 

Opinion 18-43 (1) A judge is not disqualified merely because a litigant’s lawyer sent a complaint to the Commission on Judicial Conduct and copied the judge, if the Commission itself has not issued a formal written complaint, and the judge decides he/she can remain fair and impartial. (2) Where the complaint was sent to the judge ex parte, but all disputed information on the merits is on the record and known to counsel and parties, the judge need not disclose the ex parte letter if he/she is confident he/she can decide the case impartially without considering it.

Opinion 18-44(A) A judge need not recuse him/herself from matters involving a credit union in which the judge is a member and account holder.

Opinion 18-44(B) A judge may not sell items at a not-for-profit organization’s concession stand at a sporting event but may participate in food preparation and other behind-the-scenes activities related to operating the concession stand.

Opinion 18-44(C) A part-time judge may volunteer with a not-for-profit sports booster club by serving as an officer or director and/or by assisting the organization in planning fund-raising but (1) must not personally solicit funds, (2) must not permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising, and (3) must not permit his/her name to appear as the author or signatory on any fund-raising letter or as spokesperson in other solicitations.

Opinion 18-45 What are the ethical obligations, if any, of a judge who believes his/her administrative judge’s order assigning him/her to preside in a particular court is legally insufficient?

Opinion 18-46 Where a full-time judge and his/her former law firm have an ongoing financial relationship after the judge assumes the bench, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when a client or former client of the firm appears before the judge. The obligation continues until two years after that relationship completely ends, including return of any distributed capital to the judge. After the two-year period, the decision of whether to disclose or recuse is confined solely to the judge’s discretion, after considering all relevant factors. 

Opinion 18-47 A full-time judge may participate in a free community performance of The Vagina Monologues by reading short factual/introductory paragraphs. However, if the judge participates in any question-and-answer session with the audience, he/she must abide by all applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct.

Opinion 18-48 May a judge engage in post-screening question and answer sessions and press interviews at film festivals, concerning a documentary film about the judge’s volunteer work?

Opinion 18-49 Whether a judge is authorized to act on certain declarations of delinquency from the probation department raises primarily legal questions beyond the Committee’s jurisdiction. However, a judge who makes a good-faith legal determination concerning his/her legal authority to act on these submissions necessarily acts ethically, even if the decision is reversed on appeal.

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Opinion 18-50 A part-time judge may not simultaneously serve as an assistant county attorney, where his/her specific responsibilities involve representation of the district attorney’s office, the public defender’s office and the sheriff’s department, all of whom regularly appear in the judge’s court.

Opinion 18-51 (1) On notification from an arresting agency that a defendant requires immediate arraignment, is it ethically permissible for the judge to “call attorneys from a list provided by the county 18B program to inquire if the attorney is willing to appear on behalf of the defendant?” (2) If so, may the judge then preside over the arraignment once the defendant and the defense attorney are present? (3) Must notice be given to the District Attorney of an immediate arraignment and, if so, may the judge proceed with the arraignment if the prosecutor declines to appear or is unavailable? (4) Does a judge’s effort to effectuate a criminal defendant’s right to counsel at arraignment (or at any other time where the defendant’s civil liberties are impacted) automatically create an impermissible appearance of partiality or otherwise disqualify the judge from presiding in the case? (5) May the judge preside over an arraignment if a “good faith effort” is made to find counsel but no attorney is available? (6) May the judge refuse to proceed with an arraignment if a defendant is not represented by counsel during the arraignment?

Opinion 18-52 May a part-time village justice who is also a full-time college professor teach a college course in a correctional facility in another county?

Opinion 18-53 A trial judge may coordinate a raffle (assuming its lawfulness) at a magistrates’ association training program to raise money from other co-equal judges over whom he/she has no supervisory authority, to purchase commemorative plaques for display at local court facilities.

Opinion 18-54 Where a not-for-profit entity provides detailed biographies of both directors on a website, the listing of the judge's name and the heading of the judge's biography may include the judge's judicial title if the listing and heading of the other director's biography includes his/her comparable title.

Opinion 18-55 A judge who hears Mental Hygiene Law cases in which hospitals regularly appear as petitioners may participate in a hospital’s “Nurse for a Day” program, in a unit that does not appear before the judge, but must (1) refrain from discussing court-related issues or pending cases and (2) instruct the hospital not to refer to the judge’s judicial status in any publicity concerning the event. Thereafter, for three months, the judge must disclose his/her involvement in all matters involving the hospital. In matters where all parties have, through counsel, provided written blanket “waivers” acknowledging the judge’s participation in the “Nurse for a Day” program, the disclosure requirement is deemed satisfied.

(Opinion 18-56 is part of Opinion 18-23/18-56, above.)

Opinion 18-57/17-166 A judge does not violate the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct by fulfilling his/her statutory powers, functions, and duties as a licensing officer in good-faith reliance on statutory authority and administrative guidance on how to exercise that authority. However, the judge must still abide by generally applicable ethical principles, to the extent necessary and appropriate, even when acting as a licensing officer, and thus the judge (1) must not be swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism; (2) must respect and comply with the law, including any due process requirements for such proceedings; and (3) must act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity and impartiality.

Opinion 18-58 (1) A judge may continue to preside in a case after reporting one of the attorneys to a bar association’s lawyer assistance committee, provided the judge can be fair and impartial. (2) A judge who receives information indicating a substantial likelihood that an attorney has substantially violated the requirement of competence under the Rules of Professional Conduct must take appropriate action. What action is appropriate under the circumstances is ordinarily left to the judge’s discretion. However, if the judge determines the attorney’s condition is egregious and seriously calls into question the attorney’s fitness as a lawyer, the attorney’s condition must be reported to the grievance committee. (3) Even if the judge concludes that reporting to the attorney grievance committee is mandatory under the circumstances, the judge may wait until after the case is over before making the report in order to avoid the need for immediate disqualification in all matters involving the attorney.

Opinion 18-59 May a judge be interviewed by a news station about an alternatives to incarceration program?

Opinion 18-60 A full-time judge may serve on a governmental task force to help address impacts of closing a prison facility, where its members represent a broad spectrum of interests and the task force will focus on planning for an orderly transition rather than fielding complaints.

Opinion 18-61 (1) A judge who attended a private middle school and high school with the assistance of a not-for-profit program that prepares disadvantaged students to attend such schools may be involved in the program’s recruitment efforts just as he/she would for his/her former high school, college, or law school, and therefore may participate in a video recorded interview in which the judge will discuss his/her memories of the program and its impact on his/her career and provide a message to this year’s graduates. (2) The judge may wear judicial robes during the interview but should comply with applicable administrative requirements under Section 29.1 of the Rules of the Chief Judge before permitting any photography or video in the courtroom or chambers. (3) The judge may permit the video to be played at the not-for-profit program’s fund-raiser, provided there is no reference to the judge or the video in advertising the event or in soliciting attendance or contributions. The judge must advise the entity to use the video only for general promotion of the program and/or recruitment of students, but not fund-raising.

Opinion 18-62 A judge may preside in cases where a judicial colleague’s former temporary part-time law clerk appears, provided he/she can be fair and impartial. Disclosure is not required. Under the circumstances, the judge also need not insulate his/her principal court attorney from cases involving the former law clerk, even though the court attorney provided supervision and guidance.

Opinion 18-63 Where a judge has completed all post-election requirements to wind down and terminate his/her campaign, he/she may subsequently return to the sender an unopened envelope addressed to the judge’s now defunct campaign committee. The judge may include a letter on campaign letterhead or personal letterhead and signed personally by the judge.

Opinion 18-64 May a judge attend his/her former law firm’s lavish private anniversary dinner for current and former employees, where the firm and its lawyers do not appear before the judge?

Opinion 18-65 Where a town justice’s caseload includes a variety of cases involving the casino in his/her town, the judge (1) may accept routine perks such as “free play and food comps” from the local casino, provided the judge knows such perks are offered to all similarly situated patrons and the casino is not presently an active participant in a hearing or trial before the judge; but (2) must not accept the local casino’s invitation to attend lavish, expensive, or exclusive events.

Opinion 18-66 Under these circumstances, the inquiring judge has full discretion to take, or not take, any action in response to a co-judge’s conduct.

(Inquiry 18-67 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 18-68 Subject to the fair value rule, a judicial candidate who has only de minimis remaining unexpended campaign funds may use such funds to attend legal education conferences to enhance his/her judicial competence.

Opinion 18-69 Subject to compliance with all applicable rules and statutes, a judicial candidate may permit a member of his/her campaign committee to manage a private GoFundMe account to raise contributions for the campaign, provided (1) the candidate is insulated from knowing who contributed and (2) such contributions are properly reported by the campaign treasurer.

Opinion 18-70 Subject to the fair value rule, a candidate for elective judicial office may use campaign funds to attend a charitable event during the post-election window period and purchase a full-page congratulatory journal advertisement in furtherance of his/her campaign. That the candidate is a trustee of the organization does not render this expenditure impermissible.

Opinion 18-71 May a support magistrate continue to serve as an appointed trustee on his/her local board of education?

Opinion 18-72 A judge may not speak about gun laws at a politically sponsored gun policy forum.

Opinion 18-73 The Committee cannot determine whether judges have the legal authority to introduce new steps or procedures for defendants who plead guilty by mail under Vehicle and Traffic Law 1805, as this presents a strictly legal question.

Opinion 18-74 When an administrative judge learns that a full-time judge, in his/her capacity as a parent, has provided legal advice to other parents and impermissibly commented on pending litigation beyond the bounds of the judge’s own direct, personal interest in his/her minor child’s education, the administrative judge (1) must take appropriate action but (2) has full discretion to determine what action is appropriate under the circumstances.

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Opinion 18-75 Where a part-time attorney judge shares office space with the owner of an abstract company who performs administrative tasks for the judge in lieu of rent, the judge need not prohibit him/her from accepting employment as the part-time secretary to the county public defender, but must be careful to avoid any discussion of public defender’s cases with him/her. The judge may continue to preside in matters in which the public defender’s office appears, provided the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 18-76 A part-time judge (1) may not serve as a county fire investigator for the same county where he/she presides but (2) may serve as a volunteer instructor at a regional police academy sponsored by a police organization in a neighboring county, where the students are police recruits who will not commence work until after they complete the training.

Opinion 18-77 A part-time judge may maintain concurrent employment as the chief financial officer/treasurer for an airport authority, where his/her employment duties include oversight of accounting and financial affairs, information technology services, purchasing and procurement and do not involve fund-raising or law enforcement functions.

Opinion 18-78 May a magistrates’ association issue a resolution supporting or opposing changes in the law concerning a local judge’s ability to set bail in various misdemeanor cases? If so, is it also ethically permissible to send the resolution to local legislators and/or the press?

Opinion 18-79 Where a judge discovers, after completing a hearing but before issuing the decision, that he/she had previously been disqualified in that same case solely because, at that time, the two-year disqualification period for former clients had not yet elapsed: (1) the judge may continue to preside and may dispose of the case, provided he/she can be fair and impartial; and (2) disclosure of the circumstances is entirely discretionary, but suggested.

Opinion 18-80 (1) A town justice who has a business and financial relationship with an attorney is disqualified, subject to remittal, in matters involving him/her while the relationship is ongoing and for two years after it completely terminates. (2) A town justice need not prohibit an attorney from appearing before other judges of the town court, where the judge and the attorney maintain separate law practices and have completely severed the links between them that previously created an appearance that they were associated in the practice of law. 

Opinion 18-81 A part-time town justice may not accept a part-time counsel position in which he/she would be responsible for improving the delivery of legal services to indigent clients in the judge’s county and would report to the administrator of the county’s assigned counsel program.

(Inquiry 18-82 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 18-83 A new court attorney-referee, who served as principal law clerk to a judge in a specialized part, (1) may not hear cases on which he/she worked as a law clerk but (2) may hear new cases referred by that judge immediately on being hired.

Opinion 18-84 A judge may not preside where a pending motion was prepared by a law firm representing the judge and his/her family in various litigated and transactional matters, even though the client has substituted new counsel. Remittal of the judge’s disqualification is not possible where a party is self-represented. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 18-85 May a town justice preside over a criminal matter involving the town highway superintendent, where the town supervisor (as complainant) has given sworn statements to the police against the highway superintendent and may be called as a witness in the criminal case? 

Opinion 18-86 May a judge, who is a resident and taxpayer in a particular town, preside in a criminal matter involving a defendant’s alleged conduct at a zoning board meeting, once the defendant has filed a notice of claim against the town for damages arising from the same incident?

Opinion 18-87 May a judge preside in a matter involving the half-sibling of his/her great-niece/great-nephew?

Opinion 18-88 A judge whose second-degree relative formerly served as the County Sheriff must disqualify him/herself from all matters pending in the agency during his/her relative’s tenure.

(Inquiry 18-89 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 18-90 (1) A judge may be on the board of a non-profit ambulance corporation seeking to create an ambulance district, but must resign if one is created. (2) As a board member, the judge: (a) must not partake in the corporation’s program about a proposed ambulance district; (b) may attend the event as an observer; and (c) may be publicly identified as a board member during the event, with other board members, and may be identified as a judge if similar titles identify other members.

Opinion 18-91 May a judge accept a “[man/woman] of the year” award from a fraternal organization at the entity’s annual dinner? How can the judge determine whether or not it is a fund-raiser?

Opinion 18-92 May a town justice permit the court’s bailiff to serve also as the town code enforcement officer?

Opinion 18-93 A full-time judge who developed a bar exam study aid and makes it available on an online app store may (1) associate his/her name with the app itself; (2) mention his/her judicial status in an online bio; (3) speak with law school administrators and students about their interest in obtaining the app; and (4) accept income from online sales of the app, subject to reporting requirements.

(Inquiry 18-94 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 18-95 A judicial candidate may not answer a political party’s questionnaire designed to elicit express and implied commitments that (a) are unrelated to the impartial performance of judicial duties and/or (b) would require him/her to engage in activities prohibited by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 18-96 A judicial candidate must not use campaign contributions to purchase new clothes for his/her election campaign.

Opinion 18-97 May a judge accept an invitation to speak at the International Lions of Judah Conference?

Opinion 18-98 On learning that his/her name and photograph were used to promote a church fund-raiser, a judge objected orally and in writing; the event was subsequently canceled. Need the judge take any further action?

Opinion 18-99 A judge was inadvertently exposed to an ex parte communication concerning a case. He/she terminated the communication as quickly as possible, discouraged further contact, and promptly disclosed the information to counsel at arraignment. The judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial. Need the judge take any further action?

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Opinion 18-100 A judge who appoints CASA to provide information on cases pending before the court may not serve as a member of CASA’s advisory board.

Opinion 18-101 Justice court websites may not include extensive information promoting a DA’s traffic diversion program, where the proposed language explains the program’s goals and purported benefits to participants; provides detailed application instructions; and states that the program is intended to improve prosecutorial efficiency. However, a justice court website may include a link to the DA’s website as a convenience to defendant motorists.

Opinion 18-102 Assuming he/she can be fair and impartial, a newly elected judge may preside in cases of a lawyer who (a) formerly served on the executive committee of the judge’s local political party providing social media and website help to the party’s entire slate of candidates and (b) is an acquaintance who does not socialize privately with the judge but only interacts with him/her as parents of very young children during play dates and birthday parties. On these facts, neither disclosure nor disqualification is required.

Opinion 18-103 Where a judge resides on a street owned by a golf course and has an ongoing financial relationship with other residents and the golf course to pay for street maintenance and repair costs, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal: (1) in all cases involving the golf course, for as long as the judge resides on the street or maintains the financial relationship with the golf course and (2) in all cases involving the neighbors who share in street maintenance, for as long as they maintain this financial relationship. The judge’s obligation ends once the business/financial relationship completely terminates. As always, remittal is not available if any party is appearing without counsel. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 18-104 A judge may preside in a custody case and a neglect proceeding involving one family, even where the neglect petition alleges one parent made a false report about the other parent’s conduct in open court before the inquiring judge, if the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial in each case.

Opinion 18-105 A Supreme Court candidate seeking a political party’s nomination may circulate a petition for the party’s slate of “uncommitted” judicial delegates, where none of the delegates on the petition is publicly committed to support any Supreme Court candidate but must make clear that his/her endorsement of such delegates is for the purpose of furthering his/her own candidacy.

Opinion 18-106 A full time court attorney-referee (1) may not teach yoga or meditation classes for a for-profit yoga studio, even if neither the studio nor the referee will benefit financially, but (2) may teach such classes for a not-for-profit organization and may use social media to publicize them.

Opinion 18-107 May a judge accept an invitation from the US State Department, on behalf of an overseas embassy, to participate in a program designed to promote the integration of women belonging to a certain religious group in the overseas host country and also to promote gender-equality and women’s rights?

Opinion 18-108 A sitting judge may permit a political party to include his/her name and likeness on a web page that merely lists elected officials who are registered members of the party, but must advise the party not to include any political commentary on this web page, including statements of the party’s principles, political slogans, or solicitations for funds or volunteers.

Opinion 18-109 (1) A full-time judge need not report on his/her annual statement of financial disclosure his/her theoretical involvement with a company the judge believed was completely dissolved and/or abandoned before he/she assumed judicial office, even though it is still listed as “active” on the NYS Department of Corporations website, where (a) the judge has never received any compensation or seen any evidence of business or other activity by the company, (b) the founder assured the judge that the company was never funded, never engaged in any business activity, was abandoned years ago and was thought to be dissolved, and (c) the founder has agreed that the judge should be deemed to have resigned from any theoretical involvement with the company several years ago nunc pro tunc. (2) On these facts, the judge should ask the company’s founder in writing to formally dissolve the apparently abandoned company; once the judge has made this request, the judge has no further ethical obligation.

Opinion 18-110 A city court judge may attend the mayor’s free anti-violence event for youth as an audience member with no speaking role.

Opinion 18-111 Where a judge was properly presiding in multiple criminal cases involving a particular defendant and has no conflict relating to counsel in the matter, the judge may review and approve defense counsel’s 18-B vouchers for work done on these cases prior to the judge’s recusal.

Opinion 18-112 Does a judge have any disciplinary obligations on learning that another judge presides in matters involving a lawyer with whom he/she is friendly and formerly shared office space?

Opinion 18-113 (1) A judge who concludes his/her social relationship with an assistant public defender requires disclosure or disqualification may nonetheless preside in cases where a defendant is represented by the Public Defender or other assistant public defenders in the same office, provided the judge can be fair and impartial. (2) Where an assistant public defender is associated with a part-time judge's law firm, the judge (a) must prohibit that assistant public defender from appearing before any judge of the court in which he/she presides but (b) may preside in cases where a defendant is represented by the Office of the Public Defender or other assistant public defenders in the same office, provided the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 18-114 A court may create and distribute a list of attorneys who are on the assigned counsel panel and are willing to represent litigants on a sliding fee scale, where the list contains a disclaimer that the court and its staff are not recommending any attorney.

Opinion 18-115 A judge may provide a letter to both sides in an ongoing proceeding which includes an excerpt from the transcript indicating that a particular issue has been resolved with no finding of medical abuse or neglect.

Opinion 18-116 Where a judicial candidate loaned his/her personal funds to the campaign, and that loan is now legally deemed a contribution, the candidate may include his/her contribution in the calculations when returning unexpended campaign funds pro rata to the candidate and to all campaign contributors after the window period ends. Thus, if the candidate’s personal loan was the campaign’s sole funding source, he/she may return all the funds entirely to him/herself as the sole contributor. [Note: Partially modified and partially reaffirmed by Opinion 19-19.]

Opinion 18-117 (1) Once a judicial candidate’s total remaining unexpended campaign funds are deemed de minimis, the candidate may (a) use these funds to purchase two judicial robes and/or (b) donate the balance to a not-for-profit entity that operates a childcare program at the courthouse for children of litigants in that court, with instructions that the funds be used for that purpose. (2) Judicial candidates who, after the conclusion of their window period, wish to donate their de minimis unexpended campaign funds to an entity other than those specifically referenced in one of our published opinions should write to the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics for guidance.

Opinion 18-118 Where a full-time judge was formerly an equity partner in a large law firm, and will receive life-long annual retirement benefits from the firm, but those retirement benefits are effectively “fixed” on a particular date rather than tied to the firm’s ongoing profits: (1) the judge is permanently disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, from all cases in which the judge had any personal involvement as a lawyer; (2) the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from all cases involving the law firm as long as he/she continues to receive retirement benefits from the firm; (3) the judge need not consult the firm’s conflict databases to determine whether a litigant is a current or past client of the law firm; (4) the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from all cases involving litigants the judge recognizes as current clients of the firm as long as he/she continues to receive retirement benefits from the firm; (5) for two years from the date the retirement benefits are effectively “fixed,” the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from all cases involving litigants the judge recognizes as past clients of the law firm.

(Inquiry 18-119 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 18-120 A full-time judge may provide informal, uncompensated legal advice to adult relatives involved in pending or impending civil or criminal proceedings, but may not participate in discussions with their retained counsel, as that constitutes the prohibited practice of law. To avoid even the appearance of impropriety, the judge must not attend meetings with counsel.

Opinion 18-121/18-122/18-123 (1) During the applicable window period, a judicial candidate generally may purchase campaign advertisements at a picnic organized by a labor union or a political party, subject to the fair value rule, even if the advertisements are labeled as “sponsorships.” (2) Where purchase of any level of sponsorship at the picnic will result in the identical advertisement (a mere listing of the candidate’s name in a brochure), the candidate may only purchase the least expensive level of sponsorship. (3) Where the picnic is sponsored by a political organization and the advertising opportunities are bundled together with tickets to the event, the judicial candidate must also comply with the limitations on price and number of tickets. (4) Where different levels of sponsorships reflect distinctly different levels of advertising visibility at the picnic, the candidate may purchase a mid-range sponsorship package resulting in mid-level visibility and one-time recognition by the master of ceremonies, provided the candidate decides his/her campaign will get fair value for the expense.

Opinion 18-124 A town justice, on behalf of the justice court, may accept a testamentary bequest so-ordered by the surrogate’s court to hold a holiday party at the courthouse. The court may invite lawyers to attend the party by posting notices with the bar association and/or at the courthouse.

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(Inquiry 18-125 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 18-126 (1) A full-time judge may not consent to an interview that will be posted exclusively on a private law firm’s website. On learning his/her interview has nonetheless been posted on a law firm’s website, the judge must instruct the firm to remove the post. (2) A judge may not subscribe to a law firm’s blog, even using a personal email address.

Opinion 18-127 May a full-time judge attend and participate in an out-of-state conference of tribal judges and allow one of the tribal courts to underwrite his/her travel, lodging, and registration fees?

Opinion 18-128 May a full-time judge with relevant personal knowledge provide a factual affidavit attesting to the “bona fide good faith marriage” of a long-time friend to his/her immigrant spouse who seeks permanent residency?

Opinion 18-129 A part-time lawyer judge who serves as an accessible magistrate must not accept appointment as attorney for the child in a case where he/she previously served as the arraigning judge but is not otherwise ethically barred from accepting appointments as attorney for the child in cases that originate in the youth part.

Opinion 18-130 If the criteria of 22 NYCRR 36.1(b)(2)(I) are met, a full-time judge may allow a part-time judge to serve as a court-appointed guardian, and the part-time judge may so serve.

Opinion 18-131 A town justice who had a decades-long career in the town’s police department and retired as Assistant Chief of Police shortly before assuming judicial office (1) must not preside in cases where the arrests or summonses were issued during his/her former employment but (2) may adjudicate new matters involving the police department provided the judge had no involvement in the matter and the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 18-132 A full-time judge who presides in criminal cases may participate in an interview with a not-for-profit entity retained by the county legislature to make recommendations concerning jail overcrowding, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct.

Opinion 18-133 A judge may accept a prize resulting from his/her purchase of a winning raffle ticket at a charity event.

Opinion 18-134 A judge may not participate in an interview with a former juror who wishes to write a book about a case over which the judge presided, where related proceedings remain pending or impending.

Opinion 18-135 May a judge submit a character reference letter on behalf of a long-time friend who has been charged with a federal crime?

Opinion 18-136 A village justice with no direct or independent knowledge of alleged misconduct by a court officer has no obligation to investigate or take any action.

Opinion 18-137 A part-time judge may represent a judge who presides in a different court before the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 18-138 (1) A judge with personal knowledge of relevant facts may testify as a fact witness in an attorney disciplinary proceeding, either voluntarily or pursuant to a subpoena. (2) The judge may provide a written factual statement at the request of the attorney’s lawyer, but its admissibility is a legal question.

Opinion 18-139 (1) Where a town justice has filed a tax certiorari case in Supreme Court challenging the valuation of his/her property in the town and the town attorney is defending the town in Supreme Court: (a) while the tax certiorari proceeding is pending, the judge is disqualified from all matters in which the town attorney appears or in which the town itself is a party; (b) this disqualification is subject to remittal consistent with prior opinions; (c) the disqualification ends when the tax certiorari case ends. (2) We decline to answer legal questions and/or questions about a co-judge’s conduct. [Note: Point #1(c) modified by Opinion 20-63; judge’s obligation continues after the litigation terminates.]

Opinion 18-140 What are a judge’s obligations on learning that a non-attorney may have drafted legal memoranda for an attorney?

Opinion 18-141 A part-time judge is not disqualified when a relative (other than a spouse) of a town board member or the town supervisor, who are involved in setting the judge’s salary, appears as a witness or prosecutor, but is disqualified when the town supervisor’s child or grandchild appears as a party. 

Opinion 18-142 May a judge be involved in the selection and appointment process for his/her co-judge, by, for example, meeting with the nonjudicial appointing authority and advisory committee to discuss prospective appointees; providing “fact-based opinions regarding” prospective appointees; and recommending or opposing specific individuals for the appointment?

Opinion 18-143 May a judge plan and attend a community blood drive and organ donor registration event in memory of a deceased relative, where (1) others will distribute fliers and emails to publicize the event; invite individuals to attend; and solicit cash and/or in-kind donations, (2) the judge's judicial designation will not appear on any advertisements or invitations, and (3) the judge will not personally solicit anyone to attend or participate?

Opinion 18-144 A full-time judge may participate in a task force primarily concerned with issues of fact and policy connected to public health and safety if the task force is sponsored by a not-for-profit organization, and is not itself a governmental committee or commission or other governmental position.

Opinion 18-145 A part-time judge may serve as a volunteer judge for a Peer Court in the judge’s county, subject to certain restrictions. 

Opinion 18-146 Need a judge take further steps besides objecting orally and in writing, withdrawing from participation as honoree, and requesting notification of invitees, after discovering a parade committee used his/her name, without his/her knowledge or consent, to solicit journal ads to raise funds for an upcoming holiday parade and celebration?

Opinion 18-147 On these facts, a judge may not participate in an athletic/sporting event organized and promoted solely by the local District Attorney’s office.

Opinion 18-148 A part-time justice may accept employment as a contract worker to review the court’s old files for destruction or preservation according to the Office of Court Administration’s records maintenance guidelines.

Opinion 18-149 A part-time judge whose court has a significant criminal calendar, in which most defendants are represented by assigned counsel at arraignment, may not serve as deputy administrator of the assigned counsel program.

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Opinion 18-150 Must a judge report a non-attorney defendant who, on the eve of sentencing, falsely alleged that he/she knew the judge socially?

Opinion 18-151 A town justice may not chair the membership committee of the town’s volunteer fire department.

Opinion 18-152 A part-time town justice may simultaneously serve as the appointed treasurer of the town’s taxpayer-supported fire district, where the judge has no involvement in the budgeting process but instead pays invoices after the fire commissioners’ approval.

Opinion 18-153 A part-time lawyer judge may not represent a private client before the board of assessment review in the same town where the judge presides, but the judge’s partners or associates may undertake the representation provided there is no other ethical impediment and the judge neither participates in the representation nor shares in the fee.

(Inquiry 18-154 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 18-155 May a judge’s court attorney serve on a community board, engage in charitable fund-raising, or serve as a member of the county committee of a political party? If the court attorney first becomes a Unified Court System employee part-way through the year, how should the $500 aggregate limit on political contributions during “any calendar year” be applied?

Opinion 18-156 (1) A town justice need not object to the town’s video security cameras, where the cameras have no microphones or audio capabilities, do not intrude into the courtroom or otherwise improperly interfere with court operations, and do not permit monitoring inside the judge’s chambers. (2) If the town attempts to re-install a camera in the courtroom, the judge should object in writing and notify an appropriate administrative or supervising judge. (3) The judge may, if he/she chooses, petition town officials to restrict access to the video cameras and/or ask them to transfer the monitoring and control functions to court personnel.

Opinion 18-157 Where an appellate judge with administrative or supervisory responsibilities concludes that a lower-court judge improperly contacted the judges participating in an appeal in an attempt to influence the disposition of the case, he/she
(1) must ensure the incident is reported to the Commission on Judicial Conduct;
(2) must direct that the improper communication be disclosed to appellate counsel in the case; and
(3) may permit the appellate judges who received the improper communication to continue to preside in the case if he/she is satisfied they (a) can be fair and impartial and (b) can decide the appeal without reference to the improper communication.

Opinion 18-158 May a part-time town justice serve as police chief for a neighboring village, where the village police do not appear in the town court and the position is a “part-time, administrative” one?

(Inquiry 18-159 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 18-160 A full-time judge may bring an Article 81 guardianship proceeding and, if successful, serve as court-appointed guardian for his/her first-degree relative.

Opinion 18-161 May a village justice sign a statement of compliance with the village’s recently adopted policy on non-discrimination and harassment?

Opinion 18-162 May a town justice serve concurrently as a JHO?

Opinion 18-163 A part-time lawyer judge may provide legal services to a New York State-approved medical marijuana corporation.

Opinion 18-164 A judicial candidate who is part of a political party’s slate may attend a fund-raising event where the invitation says “come meet [this year’s] candidates, including our judicial slate,” without naming him/her.

Opinion 18-165 (1) A supervising judge who concludes that another judge pointed a licensed firearm at a defendant in the courtroom several years ago, in circumstances where he/she would not have been justified in using deadly physical force, must take appropriate action. (2) Where the supervising judge is satisfied that it was a one-time, isolated incident provoked by the other judge’s concerns about his/her personal safety, and the supervising judge has, in consultation with the district administrative judge, counseled the other judge orally and in writing to impress upon him/her that this conduct must never be repeated, the supervising judge need not take any further action. (3) Conversely, if the supervising judge concludes, in his/her sole discretion, that the measures he/she has already taken are inadequate and the incident still raises serious questions about the judge’s fitness to continue in office that must be investigated by the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the judge must report the conduct to the Commission.

Opinion 18-166 May a full-time judge serve on the board of directors of the not-for-profit Association for Children with Learning Disabilities (ACLD), an organization that does not accept referrals from the courts or regularly engage in litigation in any court?

Opinion 18-167 A judge who is a judicial candidate within his/her window period may pay his/her proportionate share of the actual expenses for a free “meet and greet” with four candidates for non-judicial office, where two of these candidates are invited as guests and will not share in the expenses, provided he/she concludes the campaign will receive fair value for the expenditure.

Opinion 18-168 May a full time judge engage in certain bar association activities, serve on an executive branch official’s committee concerning a new detention facility, and teach at a private law school?

Opinion 18-169 A full-time judge may not be a founder of, or serve as an officer in, a business entity that will broker sales of state-licensed marijuana dispensaries in another state. The judge may, however, be a minority shareholder in the company, provided he/she is a purely passive investor with no other role.

Opinion 18-170 A judge who has personal knowledge that a prosecutor has failed to make certain disclosures to the defense must determine, based on facts and circumstances known to the judge, whether there is a substantial likelihood the attorney’s actions constitute a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and, if so, must take appropriate action. The judge may, in his/her discretion, wait until the proceeding ends to take any such action.

Opinion 18-171 (1) Where a law firm is retained by a full-time judge’s first-degree relative to wind up the affairs of their former joint law practice at the conclusion of a highly confidential representation that directly affected both their interests as former law partners: (a) The judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, in all matters involving this law firm during the pendency of the representation. (b) For the first two years after the representation completely terminates and all fees are paid: (i) the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from all matters involving attorneys who were personally involved in the representation and (ii) the judge must make full disclosure of the former representation when other attorneys from the law firm appear, in lieu of outright disqualification. (2) If the judge concludes in good faith, after careful consideration of all relevant factors, (a) that a party’s belated retention of this law firm as co- counsel in a case is undertaken primarily or solely for judge-shopping purposes and (b) that the judge can nonetheless be completely fair and impartial in the case, the judge may continue to preside in the matter, provided that the judge (i) makes at least a minimal disclosure of the general nature of the conflict and (ii) fully discloses the basis for his/her conclusion that the retention of counsel is strategic in nature and why he/she believes he/she can be impartial. (3) Whether the judge may hold a hearing to determine if a party is attempting to engage in judge-shopping presents a legal question beyond our jurisdiction. 

Opinion 18-172 A part-time judge who previously served as a prosecutor with very limited supervisory responsibilities: (1) must not preside in criminal cases commenced during his/her tenure, if he/she had any involvement either directly or in a supervisory capacity; (2) may otherwise preside in criminal cases prosecuted by his/her former colleagues, provided the judge had no involvement in the matter and can be fair and impartial; and (3) may enter private practice subject to certain restrictions.

Opinion 18-173 A part-time lawyer judge (1) need not disclose the relationship nor insulate a court clerk from a criminal case merely because the protected party under an order of protection is a social acquaintance of the court clerk and (2) need not disclose nor disqualify based on a former attorney/client relationship with the defendant's parents in an unrelated matter that concluded more than three years earlier.

Opinion 18-174 A judge may permit his/her spouse to include factual information about the judge’s personal story in the spouse’s campaign literature, but without mention of the judge’s judicial status or title. The judge may agree to be included in a family photograph and/or family video and be identified as the candidate’s spouse in campaign literature, without reference to the judge’s judicial office and the judge does not appear in a judicial robe.

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Opinion 18-175 May a town justice whose spouse is an ADA in the same county preside in criminal matters, where the District Attorney’s office has assigned other ADAs to appear in the town court?

Opinion 18-176/18-176(A)/18-177 (1) A judge who suspects the district attorney of possible misconduct, but lacks reliable information evidencing a substantial likelihood of a substantial violation, is not ethically required to take any action concerning the possible misconduct.
(2) If a judge decides to report the district attorney to the grievance committee, he/she must thereafter disqualify him/herself from cases in which the district attorney personally appears during the pendency of the disciplinary process and for two years after it ends. Remittal is not possible unless the grievance committee makes the misconduct a matter of public record or the district attorney waives confidentiality. The reporting judge may continue to preside in cases brought by assistant district attorneys, provided he/she can be fair and impartial.
(3) If a judge concludes that it is mandatory to report an attorney’s possible misconduct under the circumstances known to him/her, but knows the alleged misconduct has already been reported to the appropriate disciplinary authority, he/she need not personally report that alleged misconduct. (4) If the issue of the district attorney’s possible misconduct is likely to come before the county court judge, the part-time judge who serves as his/her court attorney should disclose to the county court judge that he/she could be called as a witness, but should avoid substantive ex parte communications to the extent practicable. (5) On these facts, a county court judge whose staff members may be called as witnesses retains discretion to preside over the case if he/she concludes he/she can be fair and impartial, but must (a) insulate court personnel who are potential witnesses from the case and disclose the insulation to the parties; (b) instruct the insulated court personnel not to discuss the case with him/her ex parte; and (c) disclose any substantive ex parte communications he/she may have received from them. The judge may consult with an administrative judge concerning any difficulties implementing these recommendations. (6) If the county court judge’s court attorney decides to report the district attorney’s alleged misconduct to the grievance committee, the county court judge must insulate the court attorney from all cases personally prosecuted by the district attorney. (7) A judge who is a potential fact witness in the case may, but is not required to, volunteer objective factual information concerning his/her personal observations to counsel for either side.

Opinion 18-178 May a judge serve on the board of a local mental health transitional housing not-for-profit entity that provides services to individuals, who participate voluntarily, some of whom may have had or will have contact with the criminal justice system?

Opinion 18-179 May a full-time judge continue to: 1) serve as an officer and manager of several LLCs that own commercial properties, where the judge and his/her sibling are the sole members of the LLCs; 2) pool monies from these family-owned LLCs to purchase and develop additional residential properties in another jurisdiction; 3) own a realty development corporation which is engaged in constructing a residential property in another jurisdiction; and 4) rent a commercial property in another jurisdiction to a variety of tenants, including attorneys?

Opinion 18-180 May a full-time judge serve as an alternate trustee of the estate of a long-time family acquaintance and former client?

Opinion 18-181 A village justice whose spouse is a member of the zoning board of appeals may preside in village code enforcement matters even if the defendant has sought or will seek a zoning variance, as long as (1) the zoning board of appeals is not a party to the proceeding and (2) its members are not likely to be called as witnesses.

Opinion 18-182 What are a judge’s obligations in family court matters where his/her court attorney previously served as attorney for the child?

Opinion 18-183 A town justice may serve on a committee that examines and reviews laws in relation to the merger of another municipality into his/her town.

Opinion 18-184 A part-time judge who is also a law clerk to a full-time judge in a criminal part may not avoid insulation as a law clerk in matters originating in his/her court by allowing his/her co-judges to assume responsibility for all felony arraignments, felony hearings and other felony-related criminal proceedings in that court.

Opinion 18-185 A judicial association and its members may express views supporting or opposing a funding increase for the Commission on Judicial Conduct in next year’s budget both (1) in writing to the Governor and members of the legislature; and (2) in meetings with members of the Executive Chamber or members of the legislature.

Opinion 18-186 May a town justice consent to the hiring of a deputy court clerk whose cousin is an Assistant District Attorney who does not appear in the town court, although his/her colleagues may do so?

Opinion 18-187 May a town justice serve as the appointed Secretary-Treasurer for the Fire District in the same town in which he/she serves?

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Numerical Listing of 2019 Opinions

[Jump to 20092010, 201120122013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 20202021, 2022]

Opinion 19-01 A full-time judge who recently resigned from the board of a public benefit corporation (1) must recuse him/herself, subject to remittal, on all matters on which he/she was briefed or involved as a board member but (2) may preside in other matters involving the entity, assuming the judge is satisfied he/she can be fair and impartial, and disclosure is entirely discretionary. 

Opinion 19-02 May a part-time town justice serve as attorney of record to other villages and towns inside and outside his/her county, and appear on their behalf in Supreme Court such as Article 78 proceedings, FOIL matters, and civil trespass?

Opinion 19-03 (1) A judge may not email governmental agencies to obtain evidence in a disputed litigation. (2) A judge may invite attorneys to email motion papers directly to him/her, but should require that opposing counsel be copied on the email.

Opinion 19-04 Must a town justice who also serves as an OCA approved transcriptionist disclose he/she has provided transcription services to attorneys when they appear before him/her? 

Opinion 19-05 A town justice who serves as a court attorney to a multi-bench county court judge: (1) must be insulated in the superior court from (a) all matters originating in the town court in which he/she presides and (b) every matter that touches on an incident over which the court attorney presided as a town justice, even if it was a completely separate case; (2) may preside in a town court criminal case involving a defendant who is also appearing before the superior court judge, even if the town court case may be resolved by a guilty plea in the superior court, provided the justice is insulated from the superior court criminal case; and (3) may not preside in a town court case involving a party who previously appeared before him/her as a court attorney in superior court for a pretrial conference of a family court matter.

Opinion 19-06 Whether a part-time town justice, who is also a US Air Force Reservist, may continue in office as judge while on extended military orders outside New York raises legal questions the Committee cannot address.

Opinion 19-07 A part-time town justice may be employed as a town trail maintenance worker, but must disqualify him/herself from cases in which his/her immediate supervisor or the department is a party, and from cases involving the trail. Remittal may be available. 

Opinion 19-08 A judge may consult ex parte with duly elected or appointed judges, even if they preside in courts other than the Unified Court System, concerning cases before him/her. In doing so, the judge should make reasonable efforts to preserve confidentiality.

Opinion 19-09 A full-time judge may take a multi-week improvisational comedy class from a for-profit entity, but may not perform in the graduation show, which charges admission. Additionally, the judge may perform a first-person story about his/her childhood or cultural background only if the entity producing the event is a non-profit and the show is not a fund-raiser. The analysis does not change if the judge performs anonymously and/or uses a pseudonym.

Opinion 19-10 Must a judge report his/her former housekeeper who has disclosed an ongoing medical fraud to the judge?

Opinion 19-11 May a judge appoint an otherwise eligible attorney to a Part 36 appointment in a pending proceeding, where the attorney’s former representation of the judge’s first-degree relative completely terminated over a year ago?

Opinion 19-12 A town justice who also serves as a superior court law clerk must be insulated as a law clerk from all matters originating in the town court, and the insulation is not subject to waiver or remittal.

Opinion 19-13 (1) A judge may preside in cases involving his/her co-judge’s former private law firm associates, including a former associate who is the co-judge’s relative. (2) A judge may preside in cases involving his/her co-judge’s spouse and the spouse’s current attorney colleagues in a government law office. (3) Where a judge’s own spouse works for a government law office and that office is involved in a case before the judge: (a) in all matters where the judge’s government attorney spouse personally appears in the courtroom, the judge is disqualified, without the possibility of remittal; (b) in all matters where the judge’s government attorney spouse is involved behind the scenes but is not present in the courtroom, the judge is disqualified, but the disqualification is subject to remittal as long as no party is appearing without counsel; and (c) in other matters involving the government law office, if the judge is satisfied that his/her spouse has absolutely no involvement in the matter and is not the attorney of record, the judge may preside. (4) A judge who, along with his/her spouse, previously worked for a government law office in a non-supervisory capacity may preside in cases where neither the judge nor his/her spouse had any personal involvement and in which neither was the attorney of record. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 19-14 A full-time judge may participate in a non-partisan, non-law enforcement-oriented initiative to create an anti-bullying program in schools to prevent or reduce JD and PINS behaviors.

Opinion 19-15 A Family Court Judge, who previously served, by contract, as the principal attorney for the Department of Social Services (1) is permanently disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, from cases that were pending in that office during the judge's tenure, regardless of whether the judge had actual knowledge of or involvement in a particular matter; (2) may immediately preside in newly filed DSS cases, even when handled by former contract attorneys the judge previously supervised, provided (i) the new case has no substantial connection with a case pending during the judge's prior tenure and (ii) the judge can be fair and impartial; and (3) where the newly filed DSS case has substantial connections that are material and relevant with a case that was pending in that office during the judge's tenure, the judge must fully disclose the connection between the two cases, as well as the nature and extent of his/her involvement in the prior proceeding, but may thereafter preside, provided (i) no party is appearing without counsel and (ii) the judge concludes he/she can be impartial. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 19-16 A part-time justice who also serves as full-time secretary to a superior court judge is disqualified in cases involving the superior court judge’s spouse’s law firm.

Opinion 19-17 The Committee is authorized to answer questions from judges about their own conduct, and, therefore, we do not answer hypothetical or speculative questions.

Opinion 19-18 A judge may serve as "internal coordinator" of a multitask capital improvement committee for his/her house of worship, and may assist in planning fund-raising, if the judge does not personally solicit funds, does not permit use of his/her name or the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising, and does not appear as the author, signatory or spokesperson in fund-raising materials. The judge may solicit other congregation members to serve the committee, may schedule and notify committee members of meeting details, and may ask the committee members to solicit donations. If the judge donates to the project, his/her name and donation amount may be published with other donors, without mention of the judge's committee role.

Opinion 19-19 If a judicial candidate determines he/she is legally permitted to repay his/her personal loan after the election, it is ethically permissible for him/her to use his/her remaining unexpended campaign funds, raised before election day, to do so.

Opinion 19-20 A judge who decides in good faith he/she may legally execute and file an undertaking can do so without violating the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 19-21 A judge may not suggest or recommend that an inmate make an application to the governor’s office of clemency nor may the judge take affirmative actions in furtherance of that suggestion or recommendation.

Opinion 19-22 After Election Day, a judge may appoint an attorney who merely hosted a single campaign fund-raiser for the judge to a Part 36 position for which the attorney is qualified, provided the appointment is made impartially and on the basis of merit.

Opinion 19-23 May a full-time judge preside in matters involving his/her part-time co-judge’s former partners or associates?

Opinion 19-24 May a part-time attorney judge donate office space, in a building he/she owns, to a not-for-profit charitable entity providing support to immigrants regardless of their immigration status, where the space is on a different floor from the judge’s law firm and the entity does not appear in court nor provide legal services to anyone?

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Opinion 19-25 Where a town justice’s law firm formerly had a business relationship with another firm involving uncompensated courtesy referrals, the judge is disqualified from all cases in which the other firm appears for two years from the date their business relationship completely terminated. The disqualification is subject to remittal after full disclosure, provided no party is appearing without counsel. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 19-26 What ethical obligations does a judge have on learning of possible criminal activity by his/her tenant on premises the judge owns?

Opinion 19-27 A judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from presiding in a matter when an attorney from the law firm that currently represents the judge is a witness therein. 

Opinion 19-28 Where an agency attorney initially accepted a court attorney position with the judge, but then declined the position without commencing employment, the judge may continue to preside in cases where the attorney appears, if the judge decides he/she can be fair and impartial. The judge need not disclose the unconsummated employment opportunity.

Opinion 19-29 A full-time judge (1) may not provide individualized assistance and guidance to his/her fellow congregants in completing their health care directives but may give a general lecture on the subject; and (2) may not volunteer as an escort for individuals unknown to the judge who are visiting an abortion clinic in the presence of pro-life protesters.

Opinion 19-30 Once a not-for-profit land trust becomes involved in a controversial contested agency proceeding affecting local conserved lands, a judge may not serve as its officer or director, but may still be a regular member provided he/she does not comment on the agency proceedings or otherwise publicly associate him/herself with the land trust’s positions on matters of public controversy.

Opinion 19-31 Where the town attorney has become ‘of counsel’ to a town justice’s law firm, so that the town is now the law firm’s client, the judge is disqualified from presiding in all cases where the town is a party, including in town code enforcement cases. If there is any likelihood that town code cases will come before the court, the judge must resign from one of the two positions.

Opinion 19-32 A part-time judge who is also a full-time college professor may participate in an academic research project analyzing data from the local centralized arraignment part’s first year of operation, and accept compensation from the college for this work pursuant to a grant administered by the office of court administration.

Opinion 19-33 A support magistrate who did not sell his/her former law practice, but instead simply forwarded clients’ files and transferred the remaining retainer balances to an attorney chosen by the clients, is disqualified, subject to remittal, in matters where the attorney appears for a period of one year following the transfer. Disqualification is not required for other members of the attorney’s firm. 

Opinion 19-34 May a judge ethically undertake, as a Medicaid planning tool, the process of spousal refusal set out in the Social Services Law?

Opinion 19-35 Where an attorney who practices in a specialized part manifests extremely rude, malicious, and belligerent behavior that, if true, appears to raise serious concerns about the attorney’s fitness to practice law: (1) the propriety of transferring the attorney’s cases to another venue is a legal or administrative question the Committee cannot address; (2) the attorney’s threats and complaints, without more, do not require any judge to disqualify him/herself, as long as that judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial; (3) a judge who questions his/her own ability to be fair and impartial in matters involving the attorney must disqualify him/herself from the attorney’s cases, and remittal is not available; (4) each judge must consider whether his/her own personal knowledge of the attorney’s overall alleged misconduct and unfitness to practice law as described in the inquiry is sufficiently reliable to satisfy the ‘substantial likelihood’ prong and, if so, he/she must report the attorney; (5) a judge who concludes that he/she is not ethically required to report the attorney may nonetheless exercise his/her discretion to do so; and (6) a judge who decides to report the attorney is disqualified from the attorney’s cases both while the disciplinary matter is pending and for two years thereafter. During this period, remittal is not available unless the attorney waives confidentiality or the grievance committee issues a published opinion.

Opinion 19-36 A full-time judge may not serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit credit union that regularly appears in adversary proceedings.

Opinion 19-37 A judicial candidate’s campaign committee may use an electronic event invitation system that charges 2% of the ticket price per ticket sold to distribute fund-raising invitations and sell tickets.

Opinion 19-38 A part-time judge may not serve as a fire investigator in the same county where he/she presides.

Opinion 19-39 A judge need not disqualify him/herself merely because (1) the judge could potentially be called as a witness in another proceeding concerning a statement the judge does not recall hearing and (2) the judge once disqualified him/herself in another case involving the same attorney, due to an undisclosed conflict with another law firm.

Opinion 19-40 A part-time lawyer judge may concurrently serve as in-house counsel to the state’s education department, where he/she will research and draft opinions for the education commissioner in response to appeals from local school board decisions and licensing determinations.

Opinion 19-41 A judge may not serve on an advisory committee that makes recommendations to the District Attorney regarding a convicted offender’s application to vacate a prior conviction, even if the judge will not be personally identified in the recommendation and the DA maintains full authority over his/her response to the application before the court.

(Inquiry 19-42 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 19-43 May a part-time town justice preside in matters involving (1) the police officer-spouse of their co-judge or (2) the current law firm partners or associates of their co-judge?

Opinion 19-44 What are a judge’s disciplinary obligations concerning an attorney who, acting pro se, makes material false claims about the judge both in affidavits submitted in the case before the judge and in various other unrelated proceedings against the judge? If the judge reports the attorney, may he/she continue to preside in the case where the attorney is appearing pro se?

Opinion 19-45 A support magistrate may report a litigant’s apparently criminal conduct to law enforcement but is not ethically required to do so. Whether and how he/she may do so in compliance with applicable statutes and regulations raises a legal question, not one of judicial ethics.

Opinion 19-46 A town justice whose co-judge is unavailable to handle any cases (1) may undertake the strictly ministerial role of depositing and transmitting fine money received in cases previously adjudicated by his/her co-judge in fulfilment of statutory and regulatory directives but (2) must otherwise check for conflicts in any further proceedings involving the co-judge’s former caseload and disqualify him/herself when necessary. 

Opinion 19-47 A judge may not have a court clerk enter the proposed fine on a motorist’s mail plea from a fixed schedule of fines developed by the judge -- even though the judge intends to personally review, confirm, initial and approve the fines entered by the clerk -- where the underlying fixed schedule pre-selects specific fines from the statutory range and therefore is likely to create an appearance that the judge has pre-judged certain categories of cases without individualized consideration of relevant legal factors.

Opinion 19-48 What are a judge’s obligations on receiving correspondence from opposing attorneys in a case expressing differing views on whether a suspended attorney was wrongly practicing law?

Opinion 19-49 A judge who previously ‘so ordered’ the parties’ settlement stipulation may thereafter preside in an application to enforce the stipulation and at an evidentiary hearing to resolve possible contractual ambiguities, where the judge has no extra-judicial knowledge of the parties’ intentions and believes he/she can be fair and impartial.

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Opinion 19-50 A judge may not display a rainbow flag or rainbow heart sticker on the bench or in the courtroom.

Opinion 19-51 A judge is disqualified from Vehicle and Traffic Law matters in which the judge’s first-degree relative is the issuing police officer of a traffic infraction, and remittal is unavailable.

Opinion 19-52 On these facts, a judge must not refer or sentence defendants to a restorative justice program sponsored by an alternative dispute resolution center where he/she volunteers as a small claims mediator. Once the judge terminates his/her involvement with the center, however, he/she may refer or sentence defendants to the center’s restorative justice program on a case-by-case basis if legally permitted and appropriate.

Opinion 19-53 A judicial candidate must not use a photograph of strangers that falsely implies the individuals depicted endorse the candidate.

Opinion 19-54 Must a judge contact the DA’s office on learning that the DA’s non-attorney diversion program coordinator purportedly gave advice to a defendant concerning a guilty plea?

Opinion 19-55 (1) A full-time judge may serve as officer or director of a bar foundation that provides financial aid to individual attorneys in personal and professional crisis, although the judge must not personally participate in fund-raising or permit judicial prestige to be used for fund-raising purposes. (2) The judge may preside in matters involving attorneys receiving assistance from the foundation, where the judge’s contacts with them are relatively minimal and occur exclusively through a liaison who presents the case to the board. Disqualification is not mandatory unless (a) the attorney asks the judge to recuse him/herself or (b) the judge doubts his/her ability to be fair and impartial. The attorney must be advised that the judge will recuse on request, without explanation, if the attorney is uncomfortable with the judge presiding over a particular case as a result of the attorney’s participation in the foundation. [Note: With respect to Point #2, the legislature subsequently enacted Judiciary Law § 9, which states: “Any judge who recuses himself or herself from sitting in or taking any part in the decision of an action, claim, matter, motion or proceeding shall provide the reason for such recusal in writing or on the record; provided, however, that no judge shall be required to provide a reason for such recusal when the reason may result in embarrassment, or is of a personal nature, affecting the judge or a person related to the judge within the sixth degree by consanguinity or affinity.”  Resolution of a possible dissonance between the disclosures contemplated in Judiciary Law § 9 and the confidentiality described in Judiciary Law § 90(10) and/or § 499(1) involves legal questions we cannot address.  See generally Opinion 21-45.]

Opinion 19-56 A part-time judge may serve as a Department of Social Services attorney in the same county and handle neglect proceedings in Family Court. However, if the DSS role requires numerous recusals as judge, or becomes involved in prosecuting JD or PINS cases, then the judge must choose between the positions.

Opinion 19-57 Under the circumstances presented, the inquiring judges must take action with respect to an attorney’s alleged misconduct, but what action is appropriate is left to their sole discretion.

Opinion 19-58 A judge, whose spouse is a principal clerk in the District Attorney's office, may not preside in matters involving that office unless the judge (a) can be fair and impartial and (b) discloses his/her spouse's employment relationship. Because disclosure is required in lieu of outright disqualification, the judge must disqualify him/herself if any party is appearing without counsel in the matter. Otherwise, the judge has full discretion to preside after disclosure, even if a party objects. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 19-59 A judge whose second-degree relative is undersheriff (1) may not preside in matters involving the county sheriff’s department unless the disqualification is properly remitted but (2) may conduct centralized arraignment program arraignments not involving the county sheriff, even if held at the sheriff’s offices.

Opinion 19-60 A full-time judge may be an officer of a company owned solely by his/her third-degree relative, where the company is engaged solely in the business of holding and managing certain intellectual property assets created by a deceased relative.

Opinion 19-61 The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not preclude a town justice from requiring a defendant to perform community service with the town government, provided it is lawful to do so.

Opinion 19-62 A full-time judge may rent an apartment to a court officer who sometimes serves in his/her court.

Opinion 19-63 (1) A town justice may not agree to a private meeting with the town comptroller and town board member(s) for the express purpose of explaining and justifying an apparent decrease in revenue. (2) This prohibition does not preclude the judge from communicating with town officials concerning the amount of fines and fees collected and/or the court's budgetary needs, as permitted by statutes and prior opinions. (3) The judge may also publicly discuss the court's operations, including a decrease or increase in revenue, at a town board meeting or public forum, provided he/she (a) is careful not to cast doubt on his/her integrity, impartiality, and independence in adjudicating matters that could potentially result in revenue for the town and (b) avoids impermissible comment on any identifiable pending or impending case before him/her.

Opinion 19-64 What are a judge’s disciplinary obligations, if any, on receiving a judicial colleague’s written communication concerning an ongoing proceeding the colleague has before the Commission?

(Inquiry 19-65 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 19-66 What are a judge’s disciplinary obligations, if any, on learning that a judicial colleague has made an apparent legal or procedural error?

Opinion 19-67 The Committee is unable to provide an answer where the scenario presented provides insufficient information about the proposed conduct and is also subject to multiple factual variations.

Opinion 19-68 A part-time judge may serve on a town's ad hoc committee to establish a process to determine which privately owned real properties may be sold to another governmental entity, provided the issues do not become matters of substantial public controversy.

Opinion 19-69 On these facts, a town justice who disqualified him/herself in one small claims case where a village police officer was a party is not automatically disqualified from hearing all future matters involving the village police, provided he/she can be fair and impartial, even though the justice mentioned his/her prior law enforcement career and "many close bonds and friendships" within the department. The judge may, in his/her sole discretion, clarify his/her rationale and/or explain in future cases that he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 19-70 A judge may organize a financial educational seminar for fellow judges, featuring a speaker from a not-for-profit entity, provided the judge carefully avoids lending the prestige of judicial office to advance private interests.

Opinion 19-71 A town justice who also serves as principal court attorney in superior court for a designated youth part judge: (1) may arraign adolescent offenders in the county's centralized arraignment part; (2) must be insulated as a court attorney from (a) cases he/she arraigned in the centralized arraignment part and (b) all cases originating in or appealed from the town court; but (3) need not otherwise be insulated as a court attorney from adolescent offender cases merely because they were arraigned in the centralized arraignment part. 

Opinion 19-72 A judge need not disqualify him/herself, disclose the relationship nor insulate his/her secretary from a case involving a large public utility that employed the judge's secretary's non-lawyer, non-executive relatives in a division utterly uninvolved in the case.

Opinion 19-73 A judge may be the plenary speaker at a non-fund-raising event sponsored by a not-for-profit homelessness services network, where the judge will discuss religious/spiritual issues, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, and historical/moral progress in community responses to homelessness and will not address funding or government support for the homeless.

Opinion 19-74 A judge need not recuse him/herself if a court officer’s attorney appears on behalf of other clients, and neither insulation nor disclosure is required. 

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Opinion 19-75 A court attorney-referee, who works closely with part-time judges in his/her capacity as counsel to their administrative judge, may ordinarily preside when part-time attorney judges appear on behalf of private clients.

Opinion 19-76 Neither disclosure nor disqualification is mandated solely because a political party’s county leader appears as an attorney before a judge who is currently seeking the party’s support for elective judicial office, provided the county leader is not playing an active and significant role within the judge’s campaign and the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 19-77 A part-time judge who serves on a historical society’s board of directors may participate in an audit review process of the organization’s records.

Opinion 19-78 A judge need not disqualify when an attorney appearing before the judge was the judge’s election opponent in a now-concluded political campaign, during which the candidates challenged the sufficiency of each other’s nominating petitions.

Opinion 19-79 A supervising judge who received a request from the Commission on Judicial Conduct for counseling memos, corrective action plans, and personal notes related to his/her supervision of certain judges currently under disciplinary investigation is not ethically required to provide such materials voluntarily.

Opinion 19-80 (1) Where a village’s sexual harassment policy purports to subject all village officials and employees to corrective action or discipline at the local level and to impose new legal duties on them, a village justice (a) may acknowledge receipt of the policy but (b) must not agree to comply with it unless the judge determines he/she is legally required to do so. (2) The justice may attend, and permit the court clerk to attend, the village’s mandatory compliance training for sexual harassment and workplace violence, where the program is educational and preventive in nature. (3) The justice may permit the court clerk to certify he/she will abide by the village’s sexual harassment policy, provided that doing so does not interfere or conflict with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 19-81 May a judge continue to preside in a criminal action where the defendant, a self-identified sovereign citizen, is attempting to file a fraudulent lien against the judge and has threatened to accuse the judge of treason if he/she does not protect what the defendant regards as his/her rights?

Opinion 19-82 May a judge permit his/her law clerk to work on cases in which the law clerk, in his/her prior employment, had previously provided coverage for a colleague at a single court appearance, as 18-B or attorney for the child, if all parties waive the conflict?

Opinion 19-83 May a sitting judge authorize a candidate for non-judicial office to use a photograph of the two together, taken before the judge assumed the bench, for use in the candidate’s election campaign literature and keycards?

Opinion 19-84 Where a judge believes a recording, disclosed in an unsuccessful defense motion for a protective order in a now-completed criminal trial, reveals illegal conduct by a non-attorney/non-judge third party: (1) the judge may, but need not, provide a copy to the prosecutor; and (2) absent a law or ethics rule requiring defense counsel to produce the recording, the judge need not take any action concerning defense counsel’s failure to do so.

Opinion 19-85 Although a full-time judge may provide informal, uncompensated legal advice to his/her second-degree relative behind the scenes, he/she may not be included among those permitted, by court order, to review the relative’s litigation opponent’s confidential financial information.

Opinion 19-86 May a full-time judge serve as the chair of a strategic planning committee for a private not-for-profit school his/her children attend?

Opinion 19-87 A judge may not write and publish an online review of a personal vacation or a professional vacation organized by a bar association or other professional organization.

(Inquiry 19-88 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 19-89 (1) If a town judge’s first-degree relative becomes town police chief, the judge is disqualified from all cases involving the town police department. This disqualification is not subject to remittal, and Opinion 16-160 is accordingly modified in that respect as of January 1, 2020. (2) If the judge’s first-degree relative becomes captain of the town police’s detective division, the judge is disqualified in matters in which the detective division is involved. This disqualification is subject to remittal after full disclosure on the record, provided the judge’s relative will not be physically present in the courtroom and no party is appearing without counsel. (3) The judge may appoint counsel where legally authorized and appropriate but not for the sole purpose of facilitating remittal of the judge’s disqualification. The judge may provide forms to expedite the disclosure/remittal process, provided there is full disclosure of the basis for disqualification, consent by all of the parties and their attorneys, and both disclosure and remittal must be incorporated into the record. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 19-90 Where a law firm’s former paralegal apparently forged the judge’s signature on a divorce judgment and pretended it had been appropriately filed, and the judge has serious concerns about the firm’s supervision of and reliance on the paralegal, the judge: (1) must report the conduct to the grievance committee if the judge concludes (a) the law firm, through one or more of its employees, deliberately sought to deceive the court, opposing counsel, and the clerk’s office and/or (b) one or more responsible attorneys allowed this situation to occur through extreme carelessness in failing to supervise their subordinates; but (2) need not take any action concerning the former paralegal, who is neither an attorney nor a judge. As always, if the judge believes the conduct was unlawful, the judge may, in his/her sole discretion, report it to an appropriate prosecutor’s office and/or law enforcement.

Opinion 19-91 A full-time judge who presides in a dedicated guardianship part may seek the advice of attorneys regarding a Medicaid application and home care planning for the judge’s first-degree relative, even if those attorneys regularly appear before the judge. Provided the consultation is brief and preliminary in nature and the judge concludes he/she can be completely fair and impartial, the judge need not make any disclosure.

Opinion 19-92 (1) Where a judge’s first-degree relative is a city’s mayor: (a) The judge is disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, if his/her first-degree relative is a party to the proceeding or is likely to appear in the courtroom as a witness; (b) The judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, in matters where the city is a named party; (c) Disqualification is not otherwise required merely because the city or a city department is an interested party, or city employees may be called as witnesses, or the city’s corporation counsel is prosecuting violations pursuant to authority delegated by the District Attorney, provided the judge’s relative has no personal involvement in the case, and absent any additional factors that would create an appearance of impropriety. (2) Where a judge’s third-degree relative heads the county’s social services department, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from cases in which that department is a named party. 

Opinion 19-93 A judge who is currently disqualified, subject to remittal, in matters involving a particular attorney has the same obligation in cases where that attorney, although not physically present, may have previously appeared per diem in the case or is likely to appear per diem in that case in the future. 

Opinion 19-94(A) A judicial candidate may allow an individual to host a joint fund-raiser for him/her and two other judicial candidates, but the attendees must write separate checks to each candidate’s campaign committee.

Opinion 19-94(B) A judicial candidate may not permit a political action committee to host a joint fund-raiser for him/her and another candidate.

Opinion 19-95 May a judge write a letter in support of an inmate’s clemency application at the request of the inmate or his/her attorney, describing the judge’s personal observations of the inmate’s participation and leadership role in a youth outreach program offered at the correctional facility where the inmate is incarcerated?

Opinion 19-96 Must a judge report to the District Attorney that a non-party appeared as counsel in a case before him/her in violation of Judiciary Law §478?

(Inquiry 19-97 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 19-98 A judge who presides in a drug treatment court may not solicit campaign endorsements from treatment court graduates.

(Inquiry 19-99 was withdrawn.)

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Opinion 19-100 A judge may speak about his/her judicial experiences at a federal legislator’s non-partisan, non-political youth cabinet meeting.

Opinion 19-101 A full-time judge who has written a law book may permit his/her volunteer assistant to reach out to a relative’s contact at a newspaper for the legal community to ask if they would be interested in reviewing or mentioning the judge’s book.

Opinion 19-102 A town justice may not consent to employment of the town supervisor's full-time confidential secretary as a part-time town court clerk.

Opinion 19-103 May a Judicial Hearing Officer a Judicial Hearing Officer serve as a member of a Town Board of Ethics, which has the power and duty to dispose of sworn complaints, conduct investigations and hearings, recommend disciplinary action, and assess penalties?

Opinion 19-104 Where a judge and his/her first-degree relative, as co-fiduciaries of a family trust, retain counsel to negotiate a contract for the trust: (1) During the representation, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, in all matters involving that attorney or his/her partners and associates. During this period, if any party is appearing without counsel, remittal is unavailable and the judge cannot preside. (2) For the first two years after the representation completely terminates, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, in all matters involving the individual attorney(s) who personally participated in the representation. For other partners and associates who did not personally assist in the representation, disclosure is mandated in lieu of outright disqualification during this period. Again, at this stage, if any party is appearing without counsel, the judge cannot preside. (3) After the two-year post-representation period, the judge’s continuing obligation to make a disclosure in matters involving the individual attorney(s) who personally participated in the representation depends on the particular facts and circumstances presented in each case. For other partners and associates who did not personally assist in the representation, the judge has no obligation to disclose or recuse. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 19-105 May a full-time judge serve on the board of a not-for-profit organization that “advocates for effective policies and drives evidence-based solutions for the health, education and success of children”?

Opinion 19-106 A judge may not write or join an article or editorial on issues of substantial public controversy involving American foreign policy and military operations.

Opinion 19-107 (1) On these facts, where a judge, in the course of his/her judicial duties, becomes aware of a party’s apparent attempt to undermine the judge’s judicial decision by filing a declaratory judgment action in another court and seeking a default judgment without disclosing related actions, the judge may, but is not required to, inform the other judge of the relevant facts. If the judge chooses to contact the other judge, he/she must do so in writing and copy both sides. (2) Where the judge further concludes the attorney-defendant and his/her counsel both deliberately submitted materially false documents in an apparent attempt to hinder an unrepresented judgment creditor’s efforts to collect a lawful judgment through fraud or deception, the judge must report both attorneys to the grievance committee. (3) The judge may wait until the conclusion of the proceeding before reporting the attorneys. 

Opinion 19-108 May a judge solicit funds from other judges in the Judicial District, over whom he/she has no supervisory or appellate authority, for a “Wellness Fund” to be used by the local Wellness Committee to fund social events for judges and employees to promote workplace collegiality and a positive work environment?

Opinion 19-109 A judicial candidate may pay his/her proportionate share of the actual expenses for a “petition signing party,” at which modest and reasonable refreshments are served, for the purpose of assembling registered voters to sign petitions, provided he/she concludes the campaign will receive fair value for the expenditure. However, the candidate must only circulate or request signatures on petitions as permitted by prior opinions.

Opinion 19-110 A judge must insulate his/her law clerk from cases in which the law clerk was personally involved during the law clerk’s prior public or private employment and must disclose that insulation to the parties and their attorneys. Insulation of the law clerk on this basis cannot be waived or remitted and does not expire. However, the judge need not necessarily insulate the law clerk from other matters involving the law clerk’s former employer or former clients, unless other factors create an appearance of impropriety in a particular case.

(Inquiry 19-111 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 19-112 Judicial candidates must take particular care to ascertain the truth of all claims they make about their election opponents and make every effort to avoid misleading the public with mere speculation or innuendo. Thus, a candidate may not (1) unjustly characterize an election opponent’s prior removal from the ballot as an inability to “follow the law” and/or a “flagrant disregard for the law” or (2) present hypothetical scenarios incorrectly suggesting unfavorable litigation outcomes that can only result from a judge’s failure to “follow the law” or other judicial misconduct.

Opinion 19-113 A judge whose first-degree relative is running for office may permit him/her to mention the judge's prior service in non-judicial office in the relative's campaign advertisements, provided there is no reference to the judge's eventual judicial title or status.

Opinion 19-114 A part-time town justice may represent the town and a village contained within the town in federal court. However, he/she is then disqualified in matters where either client is a party. While the disqualification is subject to remittal, if the representation results in excessive disqualifications, the judge must choose between the two positions. 

Opinion 19-115 A judge may participate in an academic study on judicial diversity in state courts but must abide by generally applicable limitations on speech and conduct, including the public comment rule, and must neither disclose any non-public information acquired in a judicial capacity nor express a predisposition to decide matters in a certain way.

Opinion 19-116 Where a judge has relevant personal knowledge of a job applicant, a familial relationship between them is no bar to providing an employment reference. Thus, a judge may write an employment reference letter for a relative just as he/she would for other applicants unrelated to the judge.

Opinion 19-117 If authorized by law, a town or village justice may notify criminal defendants of court appearances without simultaneously notifying defense counsel.

Opinion 19-118 May a judge send an employment reference letter on behalf of a longtime friend to a prospective employer that does not appear before him/her?

Opinion 19-119 Where a political action committee's endorsement is conditioned on the candidate's pledge, promise or commitment (a) not to seek or accept a specified political party's nomination and (b) to disregard the law by "unequivocally support[ing]" access to certain regulated medical procedures or devices "unimpeded by laws, restrictions, or regulations," a judicial candidate must decline the entity's endorsement. On these facts, the candidate also must not attend the entity's fund-raiser featuring its endorsed candidates.

Opinion 19-120 (1) A full-time judge and a judicial association may publicly support or oppose proposed legislative or constitutional changes affecting court structure, court operations or the terms or conditions of judicial service, and may do so by (a) writing and submitting letters, articles, or editorials to newspapers and other publications; (b) advocating in person or in writing to public officials, governmental bodies, and labor unions; (c) testifying at public hearings; and (d) speaking at public or private forums, other than partisan political gatherings or meetings of a political party or committee. (2) A judge and judicial association should use discretion when expressing a position on social media.

Opinion 19-121 A court attorney-referee may not volunteer with a local bar association group by providing pro bono legal services in another jurisdiction.

Opinion 19-122 A full-time judge may not serve as a board member or non-legal advisor of a not-for-profit organization that receives court appointments and provides guardianship services and attorney representation.

Opinion 19-123 Where a judge believes a county official, who is neither an attorney nor a judge, is incapable of meeting the requirements of his/her position, must he/she report the official to his/her employer?

Opinion 19-124 (1) On these facts, a town justice must prohibit a town board member from spending the entire day in the court clerks' office to monitor their work. (2) A town justice must attend the town's sexual harassment prevention training program if legally required to do so.

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Opinion 19-125 A part-time attorney judge may continue to represent a client as guardian pursuant to a Part 36 assignment made before the judge assumed the bench. Where the appointment is a continuing one, the representation need not be completed within one year.

Opinion 19-126 May a full-time judge, as one of two directors of a not-for-profit entity, speak at a public hearing before a regional EMS council concerning the entity's application for a license to own and operate an emergency vehicle?

Opinion 19-127 (1) A part-time judge may attend out-of-state judicial education courses at the National Judicial College. (2) The judge may apply for and accept an educational grant or scholarship from: (a) the National Judicial College or (b) a County Traffic Safety Board, provided there is no financial or referral connection between the judge and the Board, and there is little likelihood that the Board's investigations and recommendations will become the subject matter of cases before the judge. (3) The judge may not request or accept funds for judicial education from a local Victim Impact Panel, where that organization's sole funding source is fees paid by defendants for attendance at court-ordered sessions.

Opinion 19-128 A village justice may consent to hiring a part-time court clerk whose spouse is a village trustee.

Opinion 19-129 A judge, who is not in his/her window period for election or re-election to judicial office, may not participate in an event sponsored by a local political party in which children would meet with local judges to learn about the court system.

Opinion 19-130 A judge (1) may appoint a retired judge to the roster of neutrals for the same trial-level court in which he/she previously served, provided the appointment is made impartially and on the basis of merit; (2) may refer matters to the retired judge for mediation, unless he/she determines their relationship would create an appearance of impropriety; (3) may consider and decide the retired judge’s fee applications for mediation services, unless the judge determines their relationship might improperly influence the judge’s conduct or judgment.

Opinion 19-131 May a full-time judge serve on the board of a not-for-profit entity "which provides art services to the disabled by providing occupational therapy activities such as classes and workshops" in various arts?

Opinion 19-132 May a full-time judge permit his/her personally appointed law clerk to 1) display a political candidate's yard sign on his/her solely or jointly owned property, 2) wear clothing featuring political messages away from the courthouse during non-working hours, 3) distribute political literature door-to-door or at a booth at a community function, away from the court house during non-working hours, and 4) "like" or "follow" pages of political campaigns and political organizations on social media?

Opinion 19-133 (1) A part-time attorney judge who is opposing a motion to remove him/her as an attorney in a pending case may respond to media questions concerning the motion in his/her capacity as an attorney, provided he/she makes no reference to his/her status as a judge. (2) If the judge believes governing law prohibits him/her from providing certain details concerning the litigation, he/she may say so publicly. (3) A judge who is running for election to judicial office may respond to personal attacks or attacks on his/her record in his/her capacity as a judicial candidate, provided the response is truthful and not misleading. Thus the judge may, for example, (a) share copies of ethics opinions he/she believes authorize the criticized conduct, (b) disclose the length of his/her employment as an attorney and a part-time judge, (c) disclose facts and circumstances concerning his/her seeking a judicial ethics opinion, and/or (d) explain how his/her conduct has been influenced and guided by such opinions.

Opinion 19-134 May a part-time judge accept an appointment to serve on the county's solid waste board?

Opinion 19-135 A town justice must not lobby the town board to adopt a policy prohibiting civil immigration arrests in the town court while a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of such arrests in New York's courthouses remains pending or impending.

Opinion 19-136 A full-time judge may serve on the board of a not-for profit performing arts center, even if a government official appoints him/her.

Opinion 19-137 A town justice may not write the town board expressing his/her personal view that a newly enacted local law was poorly drafted and offering proposed amendments to solve the problem.

Opinion 19-138 A judge may not participate in a conference call organized by a federal legislator to help plan an event on Capitol Hill for individuals of a particular ethnic/cultural heritage, where the program topics are legislative and political in nature.

Opinion 19-139 What are a judge’s obligations with respect to unclaimed bail monies from a case his/her predecessor fully adjudicated, where the judge could not personally have handled the underlying matter?

(Inquiry 19-140 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 19-141 May a full-time judge serve as president of a bar foundation that “focuses on the management and distribution of grants for programs devoted to providing [local] legal services”?

Opinion 19-142 Must a judge recall warrants on a defendant’s failure to pay a fine and/or surcharge due to recent revisions in the Criminal Procedure Law? May the judge enter a civil judgment for the unpaid amount?

Opinion 19-143 A full-time judge may teach law-related classes for compensation at a for-profit college or university, provided such teaching does not conflict with the proper performance of judicial duties.

Opinion 19-144 While a law firm is representing the judge’s not-for-profit membership corporation, the judge must disclose the representation when the law firm appears before him/her on behalf of other clients. 

Opinion 19-145 A judge may not facilitate a traffic ticket plea reduction program instituted by the District Attorney’s office that would interfere with the court’s exercise of judicial review and discretion.

Opinion 19-146 (1) A full-time judge may not serve as an advisor to the U.S. President on disability programs and services nor on an advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2) The judge may meet with federal executive branch officials on his/her own behalf to discuss his/her experiences as a disabled individual, subject to certain limitations.

Opinion 19-147 A part-time judge may serve on the local tourism board, whose function is to take “all reasonable steps” to promote the city, provided the judge does not solicit funds or use the prestige of the office for that purpose.

Opinion 19-148(A) Where a judge previously served as a non-supervisory assistant county attorney and his/her spouse continues to serve in such capacity:
(1) Judge’s Own Cases. The judge is permanently disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, from all cases in which he/she participated in any way as an attorney.
(2) Spouse’s Cases. The judge is disqualified from all cases involving his/her spouse, and remittal is not permitted unless all specified conditions are strictly met.
(3) Related Cases. If the judge believes the family offense, neglect/abuse, or JD/PINS charges he/she handled as an ACA are materially relevant to the matter currently before him/her, then he/she must fully disclose the connection between the two cases. Because disclosure is mandated in lieu of disqualification, the judge is disqualified if any party is appearing without counsel. Otherwise, assuming the judge can be fair and impartial, he/she retains full discretion as to whether to preside, even if a party objects.
(4) Other, Unrelated Cases. The judge may otherwise immediately preside in other cases involving the county attorney’s office, including those (a) prosecuted by his/her former public sector colleagues and supervisors; (b) involving respondents or other individuals who appeared in family offense, neglect/abuse, or JD/PINS matters the judge handled, provided the judge can be fair and impartial; and (c) involving an individual who is or was a respondent in family court in a matter handled by the judge’s spouse. Neither disclosure nor disqualification is required, and there is no waiting period.
(5) Investigations. The judge may preside in matters involving individuals who were merely “under investigation” for possible future family offense or neglect/abuse matters during the judge’s tenure as ACA, provided (i) neither the judge nor his/her spouse had any involvement whatsoever and (ii) the judge can be fair and impartial.
(6) Pistol Permits. With respect to individuals who were respondents in administrative pistol permit proceedings handled by the judge, the judge is disqualified if he/she has personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts in the proceeding before him/her. If the pistol permit itself is a factor in the city court matter, the judge must disqualify.
 NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 19-148(B) (1) A judge may collect fees for legal work done before assuming full-time judicial office, only if the fee arrangement is otherwise proper. (2) A judge need not prohibit his/her spouse from serving as a committee member of a political party. (3) A judge may, as an extra-judicial activity, teach youth court volunteers on both sides about restorative justice issues and court procedures. (4) In matters involving the judge’s election opponent or the opponent’s law firm, clients, relatives, and supporters, disqualification is not required unless the judge, in his/her sole discretion after carefully considering all relevant factors, concludes his/her impartiality might reasonably be questioned or doubts his/her ability to be fair and impartial. (5) Where a lawyer not only supported the judge’s election opponent but also threatened and complained about the judge, disqualification is not required unless the judge, in his/her sole discretion, after carefully considering all relevant factors, concludes his/her impartiality might be reasonably questioned or doubts his/her ability to be fair and impartial.

Opinion 19-149 A court attorney-referee may participate in a census education drive organized by his/her fraternity/sorority provided he/she does so in a strictly neutral, non-partisan and informational manner.

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Opinion 19-150 (1) Where a city court judge’s spouse supervises the public defender’s family court division and only assumes the public defender’s administrative responsibilities on an occasional, short-term basis, the judge: (a) may preside in criminal cases where the public defender’s office represents the defendant, provided there is no related family court proceeding, the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial, and the judge’s spouse is not involved in the case; and (b) is disqualified where the public defender’s office is handling both the city court criminal case and a related family court proceeding, but may permit remittal of disqualification if his/her spouse will not personally appear in the courtroom. (2) If the public defender becomes unavailable on a long-term, indefinite basis, such that the public will reasonably perceive the judge’s spouse as the acting or de facto public defender, the judge is disqualified from all public defender matters. The disqualification is again subject to remittal only if the judge’s spouse will not personally appear in the courtroom. 

Opinion 19-151 A part-time judge may serve (1) in an appointive position on the county’s emergency medical services advisory board, (2) as assistant chief of the local not-for-profit volunteer fire department elected solely by the organization’s members, where the position does not involve peace officer status or any investigative responsibilities, (3) as a volunteer enterprise risk management chair of the local Boy Scout district, where the position involves ordinary health and safety risks in normal scouting activities, and (4) as a scoutmaster for a local Boy Scout troop.

Opinion 19-152 May a full-time judge appear at an upcoming agency meeting in support of a not-for-profit entity’s license application, where the judge is a co-founder, officer and director of the entity, and has specialized professional skills and training relevant to the license application?

Opinion 19-153 (1) If a town justice believes the town board’s hiring procedure in hiring a court clerk was unlawful and/or creates an appearance of impropriety, he/she must withhold his/her consent to hiring the selected court clerk. (2) A town justice need not object to employing a court clerk who: (a) is the town supervisor’s second-degree relative, but must insulate him/her from all cases in which the town supervisor is personally involved or in which the town is a named party; (b) will continue to work for a criminal defense attorney for one month while being trained by the outgoing court clerk, but must insulate him/her from matters involving that attorney during this period; and/or (c) during the interview, expressed interest in assisting the town clerk if hired as town court clerk.

Opinion 19-154 A judge who has a remittable conflict with the entire public defender’s office and whose first-degree relative and law partner are also assistant public defenders in that office: (1) may arraign indigent defendants from other local courts in the centralized arraignment part, provided they are represented by the conflict defender or assigned counsel at arraignment and the public defender’s office has not previously represented them in the matter; (2) is disqualified in cases transferred from the centralized arraignment part where the public defender’s office represented the defendant, but the disqualification is subject to remittal after full disclosure on the record unless the judge’s first-degree relative or law partner handled the arraignment; and (3) is disqualified from arraigning a defendant on a bench warrant issued by another local judge if the public defender’s office represents the defendant in the underlying matter, but the disqualification is subject to remittal after full disclosure on the record unless the judge’s first-degree relative or law partner is involved in the underlying matter. 

Opinion 19-155 (1) A judge may, but is not required to, disclose his/her concerns to any appropriate authority, including the village police chief, about whether a newly appointed provisional village police officer has proper legal authority and credentials to carry a firearm. (2) A judge who concludes he/she is legally authorized or required as a firearms licensing officer to initiate an investigation into the propriety of the new officer’s possession of a pistol may take whatever steps he/she deems legally permitted or required in that capacity. (3) A judge who concludes he/she has a reasonable, good-faith basis to question the firearm authorization status of a police officer who has been designated to provide security in the judge’s courtroom may, but is not required to, meet with the village police chief concerning the issue. If the judge concludes the officer is not properly authorized, trained, and/or licensed to carry a firearm, he/she may take any lawful measures to ensure order and decorum in his/her courtroom, including, but not limited to, objecting to the officer’s placement in his/her courtroom and consulting with court administrators on how to proceed.

Opinion 19-156 May a justice who previously participated in village policy decisions as a village trustee (presumably including amendments to the village code), preside in cases involving village code violations?

Opinion 19-157 (1) May a judge preside in county court over matters involving the county sheriff’s office, where his/her spouse serves as a non-supervisory road deputy? (2) What are a judge’s ethical obligations in newly filed DSS matters, when the judge formerly served as a senior supervisory attorney with the department of social services with oversight of all DSS cases? 

Opinion 19-158 May a town justice attend public town board meetings as an observer?

Opinion 19-159 A judicial association may not submit an amicus curiae brief in an Article 78 proceeding against an individual judge.

Opinion 19-160 A town justice may also work as a part-time, nonsupervisory assistant county attorney in the same county, provided he/she has no prosecutorial or quasi-prosecutorial duties and is fully insulated from all matters involving the district attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office. 

Opinion 19-161 May a judge preside in matters involving the city prosecutor, given the friendship between their children?

Opinion 19-162 A judge whose spouse is a forest ranger with law enforcement responsibilities: (1) is disqualified from cases involving tickets issued by his/her spouse or based on work done by the judge’s spouse; (2) may attend his/her spouse’s professional awards ceremony.

Opinion 19-163 (1) Absent a legal obligation to do so, a court must not help the prosecution meet its discovery obligations by holding and/or delivering discovery packets prepared by law enforcement agencies. (2) A town justice may not meet with the special prosecutor to discuss criminal justice reforms unless attorneys representing defense interests are also invited to attend.

Opinion 19-164 A full-time judge whose former law firm colleague serves as a part-time non-supervisory conflict defender (1) may not preside in matters involving his/her former colleague for two years but (2) may preside in matters in which other attorneys from the conflict defender’s office appear.

Opinion 19-165 A judge who participated in an appeal must report to the Commission on Judicial Conduct a letter he/she received from the lower-court judge whose decision was overturned, because the letter appears to raise very serious questions about the writer’s impartiality, fairness, and understanding of a proper judicial role and suggests an attempt to improperly influence the subsequent disposition of the case before another judge.

Opinion 19-166 May a full-time judge participate in a local museum’s documentary film commemorating passage of an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

(Inquiry 19-167 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 19-168 (1) A justice court may not disseminate the prosecutor’s plea offer document to defendants at arraignment. (2) When both sides are present, a judge may negotiate a plea offer with a defendant, subject to significant ethical, constitutional, and statutory limits. (3) When the prosecutor gives the defendant a written plea offer and then declines to appear in court, the judge may accept the stipulated plea offer if he/she concludes it is legally appropriate.

Opinion 19-169 A full-time city court judge, in his/her capacity as an acting county court judge in a neighboring county, must disqualify, subject to remittal, from any matters in which his/her co-judge’s law clerk represented a defendant at arraignment. The judge has no obligation to take any curative action, including disclosure, with respect to matters that come before the judge in the city court, based on his/her co-judge’s law clerk’s employment as special arraignment counsel in another county.

Opinion 19-170 On these facts, a judge’s impartiality cannot reasonably be questioned in matters involving an assistant public defender, merely because the judge, in his/her capacity as a college or university administrator, has some supervisory authority over the APD’s spouse on a multi-year grant-funded research project. The judge may thus continue to preside in matters involving the APD, provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial, and disclosure is not required.

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Numerical Listing of 2020 Opinions

[Jump to 20092010, 201120122013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022]

Opinion 20-01 A village justice may sign a letter making representations about the disclosure of justice court records to the village court auditors if the judge makes a good-faith legal determination that he/she is permitted to do so.

Opinion 20-02 May a full-time judge serve as a compensated referee for certain private not-for-profit high school and grammar school sports leagues?

Opinion 20-03 On these facts, a full-time judge may not serve on the executive committee of a regional Boy Scouts Council that is likely to be engaged regularly in adversarial proceedings.

Opinion 20-04 A town justice may not serve as Stop-DWI Coordinator, even in another county.

Opinion 20-05 A judge need not prohibit his/her court attorney from serving on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, provided such service does not interfere with the court attorney’s official responsibilities and any required permission has been obtained under Part 50 of the Chief Judge’s Rules.

Opinion 20-06 (1) A judge must insulate his/her court clerk from all cases in which the court clerk participated in any way as an attorney, including as a mediator. The judge may preside if he/she can be fair and impartial. (2) The judge need not otherwise insulate the court clerk from cases involving (a) a party whose divorce the court clerk mediated or (b) a law firm for which the court clerk wrote and published blog posts on various matrimonial law topics in the law firm’s name. The judge may preside in such cases if he/she can be fair and impartial. (3) If the court clerk wrote an article about a specific pending case before the judge, he/she must insulate the court clerk from the case and can preside if he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 20-07 A judge with an interest in unpaid fees separately shared by the judge’s former partner must disqualify, subject to remittal, in any matter where the former partner appears, for two years after final payment of those fees, but need not disclose or disqualify from matters handled by other attorneys from the same county department of social services where the former partner is now employed.

Opinion 20-08 Where a judge is a defendant in a personal injury action, may he/she authorize his/her counsel to advise plaintiff’s counsel of his/her judicial status?

Opinion 20-09 A judge’s concern that the Public Defender will criticize and attack him/her personally and professionally does not necessitate recusal from all matters involving the Public Defender’s office.

(Inquiry 20-10 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 20-11 May a town justice accept an appointment by the town board to serve on the board of a not-for-profit local development corporation, funded by tax revenue from the local power facility?

Opinion 20-12 When a part-time city court judge appears before a full-time judge as an attorney on behalf of a client, the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit him/her from asking the court to direct a city marshal, rather than the county sheriff, to execute a warrant of eviction.

Opinion 20-13 A part-time judge may organize a non-fund-raising sports race and promote it to members of the local sporting community, even though participants will pay a modest fee to cover event costs. The judge may personally apply for routine permits and approvals and be listed as race director, provided he/she does not reference his/her judicial status in any way in making such application and requests.

Opinion 20-14 May a full-time judge serve on the board of a not-for-profit entity in another state, where the entity’s mission is to promote “positive mental health outcomes in our oftentimes overwhelming digital landscape,” through educational school-based initiatives, public awareness campaigns and training for mental health professionals and educators?

Opinion 20-15 On these facts, where a judge discovered a clerical court employee’s apparent misconduct after the affected case had already been adjudicated and the judge has already reported all the facts he/she learned to appropriate court administrators, the judge need not take any further action.

Opinion 20-16 On these facts, a judge who learns a non-judge court employee engaged in multiple ex parte conversations with one side in an ongoing contested matter before the judge, and attempted to assist that side by using his/her special access as a court employee to provide insider information and advice, must (1) report the situation to appropriate court administrators, (2) direct the employee to be insulated from further case contact, (3) disclose the incidents the judge has become aware of to the lawyers and parties on the record, and (4) direct the lawyers to admonish their clients not to engage in ex parte communication about the case with court personnel.

Opinion 20-17 A judge may, but is not ethically required to, report a non-attorney who attempted to appear before the judge on behalf of a “client.”

Opinion 20-18 A full-time judge may personally appeal the denial of claims for health insurance coverage for his/her dependent child and may seek reversal of charges imposed by the child’s college related to the claims.

Opinion 20-19 What are a judge’s obligations in matters involving a social services agency that employs his/her first-degree relative in a non-supervisory, entry-level position?

Opinion 20-20 A judge who recently served as the District Attorney, and earlier as an assistant district attorney: (1) is disqualified from presiding in criminal matters pending or prosecuted by the office during his/her tenure as the District Attorney; (2) may preside in criminal matters handled by the DA’s office before he/she became the District Attorney, provided the judge had absolutely no involvement in the matter as an assistant district attorney; and (3) may approve 18-B vouchers submitted by defense counsel and assign counsel for administrative parole revocation hearings relating to matters previously prosecuted by the judge or his/her subordinates.

Opinion 20-21 Must a judge disclose that his/her spouse is a non-supervisory assistant district attorney when other attorneys from that office appear on criminal matters?

Opinion 20-22 Where a disciplinary proceeding resulting solely from a complaint filed by the District Attorney results in public censure on undisputed facts, the judge must continue to disqualify him/herself from all matters involving the District Attorney’s office for two years. During this period, the judge’s disqualification is subject to remittal in matters where defendants are represented by counsel, provided the judge (a) concludes he/she can be fair and impartial and (b) strictly complies with all requirements for remittal. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-23 A judge who is on a not-for-profit organization’s board of directors may be listed on the organization’s fund-raising invitation along with all other directors, in the same manner in which his/her name is listed on the organization’s website.

Opinion 20-24 A judge is not disqualified from presiding in cases involving the attorney who employs the court attorney’s first-degree relative as a secretary, provided the judge can be fair and impartial and no party is appearing without counsel, but the judge must disclose the relationship and insulate the court attorney from such cases. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

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Opinion 20-25 A judge’s child’s status as a crime victim, and the judge’s status as witness to the alleged crime, do not raise reasonable questions about the judge’s impartiality in matters involving the attorneys prosecuting and defending the accused. Thus, provided the judge can be fair and impartial, he/she may preside in unrelated matters involving these attorneys, even if defense counsel cross-examines the judge and his/her child.

Opinion 20-26 (1) A judge is not disqualified from presiding in matters involving the District Attorney’s office merely because the law clerk’s second-degree relative is an assistant district attorney. However, the judge must insulate the law clerk in all cases in which the law clerk’s relative appears. (2) The judge need not ask if the law clerk’s relative had some behind-the-scenes involvement in a particular case, where the relative does not personally appear and is not listed on the papers. (3) On these facts, the judge need not take any disciplinary action. (4) Provided no party is appearing without counsel, the law clerk’s insulation in matters involving his/her relative may be remitted, after full disclosure on the record, if the parties and their counsel affirmatively consent and their agreement is incorporated into the record, and the judge is satisfied the law clerk can be fair and impartial. The judge may take steps to expedite the remittal process, consistent with these principles. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-27 A full-time judge may serve as an executor under the will of relatives within the sixth degree of relationship, provided that such fiduciary activities do not interfere with performance of his/her judicial duties and do not constitute the practice of law, and need not formally seek permission to do so.

Opinion 20-28 A part-time lawyer judge may not serve as part-time assistant counsel for the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Opinion 20-29 SCAR hearing officers are subject to the same restrictions as sitting judges with respect to political activities.

Opinion 20-30 Where two attorneys representing the judge’s child in a civil matter are also the Public Defender and an assistant public defender: (1) During the representation, the judge (a) must disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal, from matters involving those two attorneys when they appear as public defenders either in the judge’s court or the centralized arraignment part but (b) may preside in other matters involving the public defender’s office, provided the assistant public defender(s) appearing before the judge have absolutely no involvement in representing the child. (2) Once the child’s representation completely ends, disclosure is mandated in lieu of outright disqualification for two years in matters involving the attorneys who represented the judge’s child. The judge must fully disclose the past representation, but thereafter has full discretion to determine if recusal is warranted, provided no party is appearing without counsel. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-31 A judge may teach a law school course based on a now-concluded homicide trial in his/her jurisdiction only if the time for appeals is exhausted and no related matters are pending or reasonably foreseeable. In teaching the class, the judge may only use materials from the public record.

Opinion 20-32 Where an assistant public defender with no supervisory responsibilities serves on the town board that sets the town justice’s salary and the court’s budget, the town justice (1) is disqualified, subject to remittal, in all matters involving that APD but (2) may otherwise preside in cases involving the Public Defender’s office, assuming he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 20-33 A part-time judge may not serve concurrently as business agent for a correction officers’ union, where the role requires representing the interests of corrections officers in the legislative or political sphere.

Opinion 20-34/20-35 (1) Where a local attorney’s paralegal filed a disciplinary complaint against a judge, but the Commission on Judicial Conduct has not issued a formal written complaint, the judge need not disqualify him/herself from matters involving the complainant or his/her employer, provided he/she can be fair and impartial. (2) If the Commission formally charges the judge with misconduct in a formal written complaint, the judge (a) must disqualify him/herself from matters in which the complainant appears; but (b) need not otherwise disqualify him/herself from matters involving the complainant’s attorney employer, where the judge is satisfied the attorney did not participate in making the complaint and the paralegal’s name does not appear on the papers and is unlikely to be present in the courtroom, provided the judge can be fair and impartial. (3) The judge need not disclose the disciplinary complaint, whether or not recusal is required. [Note: With respect to Point #3, the legislature subsequently enacted Judiciary Law § 9, which states: “Any judge who recuses himself or herself from sitting in or taking any part in the decision of an action, claim, matter, motion or proceeding shall provide the reason for such recusal in writing or on the record; provided, however, that no judge shall be required to provide a reason for such recusal when the reason may result in embarrassment, or is of a personal nature, affecting the judge or a person related to the judge within the sixth degree by consanguinity or affinity.” See Opinion 21-45 concerning an apparent dissonance between Judiciary Law § 9 and Judiciary Law § 90(10).]

(Opinion 20-35 is part of Opinion 20-34/20-35, above.)

Opinion 20-36 A judge need not disqualify him/herself from issuing a decision in a small claims matter merely because his/her first-degree relative, a non-lawyer, independently applied for employment with the sole law firm that appeared at the small claims hearing.

Opinion 20-37 A judge whose second-degree relative is a caseworker for the department of social services is disqualified in all matters where the relative is personally involved, whether as the named petitioner or as a likely witness. The disqualification is not subject to remittal.

Opinion 20-38 (1) A judge may discuss pending or impending matters with other judges and court clerks at a magistrate’s association meeting, assuming this is a confidential setting with no others present. (2) Where a judicial association’s email contact list includes individuals who are not judges or court personnel, a judge cannot assume the emailed discussions are confidential or private and therefore must take particular care to observe generally applicable limitations on judicial speech.

Opinion 20-39 May a judge create generic thank you cards for his/her chambers, featuring a stock image of the exterior of the courthouse and bearing a message saying “Thank you” followed by his/her judicial title and name?

Opinion 20-40 May a new full-time judge preside in certain matters involving his/her former law partner and his/her court attorney’s former law firm or former clients? 

Opinion 20-41 A full-time judge may not attend the annual weekend conference sponsored exclusively by the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators Inc. in Albany, New York.

Opinion 20-42 Subject to generally applicable limits on judicial speech and conduct, a judge may publicly comment on the recently enacted bail reform legislation to identify perceived strengths and weaknesses and to suggest the legislature seek additional comments or testimony to improve the law. On these facts, given the controversial nature of the topic, the judge should not refer to his/her current or prior affiliation with a court committee or judicial association unless that entity authorizes him/her to do so.

Opinion 20-43 A judge who headed the DSS legal department as the senior social services attorney is disqualified from all cases in which the judge participated, however minimally, either directly or as a supervisor, at any stage. However, the judge may preside over other cases pending at DSS during his/her tenure, if both the judge and the legal department had absolutely no involvement in the matter.

Opinion 20-44 A judge may attend and speak at a free elder abuse awareness conference sponsored by a not-for-profit home health care agency, where the program is primarily educational and preventative in nature.

Opinion 20-45 A full-time judge may serve on the board of a not-for-profit entity that runs community-based health care facilities, provided it and its affiliated hospital are not likely to be engaged regularly in adversary proceedings in any court.

Opinion 20-46 A judge may not serve on the board of a not-for-profit entity whose sole purpose is to raise funds for a foreign educational institution.

Opinion 20-47 May a judge serve on the board of a not-for-profit arts foundation that reviews grant applications and awards grants to promote performing arts?

Opinion 20-48 May a part-time lawyer judge handle criminal and traffic defense matters as an attorney in the same county, given that the prosecutors in those cases may also appear in his/her court?

Opinion 20-49 A full-time judge may volunteer as a disc jockey for a not-for-profit college radio station.

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Opinion 20-50 A part-time town judge may serve on the town’s board of assessment review and its strictly advisory historical preservation commission, subject to disqualification in any matters involving these entities or their determinations or recommendations.

Opinion 20-51 May a judge, as a member of a political party and without disclosing his/her judicial status, engage in political activity such as “writing to [state or federal] representatives or senators [to express] personal positions; attending meetings, rallies or events for candidates for office; volunteering for such candidates in any capacity at their office or in contact with the general public; canvassing in other states to support candidates for national office or candidates for office in those other states; [or] any similar efforts to support candidates for any political office”?

Opinion 20-52 May a judge, who is one of several beneficiaries of a deceased relative’s estate, preside in matters involving a lawyer who is representing the judge’s sibling as executor? 

Opinion 20-53 What are a judge’s ethical obligations in matters involving the court attorney’s former employer, the Department of Children Youth and Families?

Opinion 20-54 A part-time judge may serve as the security manager for a local racetrack, which is outside the jurisdiction of his/her court.

Opinion 20-55 A full-time judge (1) may not serve on the board of a network of not-for-profit agencies, where some of those agencies engage in advocacy, accept court referrals, or are eligible for appointments in the judge’s court; (2) may serve as a board member on a local council of the Boy Scouts of America, but must resign if the council becomes involved in litigation; and (3) may mentor high school students through a program organized by a not-for-profit chamber of commerce.

Opinion 20-56 Where a judge’s first-degree attorney relative works for the private law office of an ADA who appears in the judge’s court, the judge (1) need not disclose or disqualify when the ADA appears as an ADA but (2) is otherwise disqualified, subject to remittal, whenever attorneys from the ADA’s private practice appear before him/her.

Opinion 20-57 May a judge perform the role of a judge in a theatrical performance to raise funds for his/her house of worship?

Opinion 20-58 A part-time lawyer judge must not publish his/her judicial decisions on his/her personal social media website, where doing so may appear to (1) invite discussion, comment, or other input from members of the public or (2) indirectly promote his/her law practice.

Opinion 20-59 May a full-time judge publish his/her autobiography, and name specific out-of-state doctors or medical entities the judge credits for helping him/her recover from life-threatening medical conditions? May the judge participate in an audiotaped interview and radio program, organized by the publisher, to promote the book?

Opinion 20-60 A judge may ask the Commission on Judicial Conduct if they received any complaints against the judge's deceased spouse, but must not use or invoke his/her own judicial title or status in making this request.

Opinion 20-61 May a judge continue to preside over a criminal matter after the defendant files a federal lawsuit against him/her, the arresting police officer, and others? May the judge preside over other matters in which the police officer appears?

Opinion 20-62 May a judge serve as Stewardship Co-Chair for his/her house of worship?

Opinion 20-63 (1) A judge who recently negotiated a settlement of his/her lawsuits against a city must fully disclose these prior litigations in matters where the city is a party for two years from the date the presiding judge signs the order of settlement. During this period, if any party appears without counsel in matters where the city is a party, the judge must disqualify him/herself. (2) Opinions 18-139, 17-03, 14-11, 08-59, 04-66, 98-161, and 91-52 are modified or overruled to the extent they suggest a judge’s obligation completely ends when the litigation terminates. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

Opinion 20-64 May a part-time lawyer judge (1) practice law before a non-lawyer judge in another town or village of the same county; (2) practice law in County Court or Supreme Court; (3) as a full-time college professor, comment on cases, regulations, or politics; or (4) accept full-time employment as chief clerk of the County Court?

Opinion 20-65 A part-time non-attorney judge may continue employment in a law firm while an attorney colleague is seeking election to public office, provided the judge is not directly or indirectly involved in the attorney’s political campaign and is insulated from matters that either are, or appear to be, of a political nature.

Opinion 20-66 A town justice may permit a court security officer to take defendants’ fingerprints within a secured area of the courthouse.

Opinion 20-67 May a judge preside over matters involving staff attorneys employed by the Department of Social Services who are supervised by an attorney against whom the judge filed an ethical complaint approximately two years ago?

Opinion 20-68 A town justice may preside in matters involving the public defender’s office where his/her spouse works as an eligibility investigator, provided he/she discloses his/her spouse’s employment.

Opinion 20-69 When misdemeanor-level Vehicle and Traffic Law charges are before a judge on a simplified traffic information, the judge may not ask the prosecuting agency to file a long form information so the judge can sua sponte issue a criminal summons or an arrest warrant for a defendant who failed to appear.

Opinion 20-70 Where a not-for-profit, non-partisan town Grange engages in significant educational initiatives to promote rural interests and an appreciation of agriculture but also engages in advocacy and lobbying with local governments concerning local laws, policies and regulations, a town judge (1) may join the entity as a regular member but (2) must not assume leadership roles in the entity or otherwise publicly associate him/herself with organizational positions on controversial issues.

Opinion 20-71 A judge may serve on the board of directors of a regional chapter of the Polish American Congress.

Opinion 20-72 May a full-time judge appear in a commercially produced documentary concerning a deceased former client and his/her family, where the representation terminated over 30 years ago?

Opinion 20-73 A full-time judge who formerly worked for the Legal Aid Society (1) is permanently disqualified in cases in which he/she participated in any way as an attorney, whether in a personal or supervisory capacity and (2) is disqualified for two years, subject to remittal, in cases involving his/her former clients. The judge may otherwise preside in criminal cases, including those in which his/her former colleagues appear, provided he/she can be fair and impartial. 

Opinion 20-74 A judge may serve on board of directors for a not-for-profit private school.

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Opinion 20-75 Where a full-time judge has been sued by a former ward, may the judge provide his/her current attorneys with financial information he/she obtained during the guardianship, to assist them in collecting an award of attorneys’ fees from the former ward?

Opinion 20-76 A part-time judge may accept temporary employment with a bank to assist in evaluating loan applications from small businesses under the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

Opinion 20-77 A full-time judge may serve on a not-for-profit advisory board that will make recommendations about funding local entities in serious economic jeopardy, provided his/her involvement is limited to reviewing and making recommendations on applications from not-for-profit entities that are not likely to appear before him/her.

Opinion 20-78 A full-time court attorney-referee may commence a legal action for eviction and collection with respect to real properties he/she owns in any court of competent jurisdiction, but must do so through counsel unless he/she is the sole owner of the property.

Opinion 20-79 As long as a JHO remains listed on a court’s assignment panel, he/she may not serve as an arbitrator or mediator for any contested matter in a court in a county where he/she serves on a JHO panel for such court, unless appointed by the court to so serve.

Opinion 20-80 A court-attorney referee may set up an email auto-response to provide general legal and ethical information to unrepresented litigants and others, provided the message is consistent with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. However, the referee should not refer to him/herself as a “jurist” in this auto-response message.

Opinion 20-81(A) A judge (1) may be enrolled in a political party, but may not otherwise be a member of a political organization; (2) may serve on the advisory board of a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preservation of a historic theater, subject to certain limitations; (3) may not create or participate in a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for a charitable cause, where the judge’s involvement would not remain strictly behind-the-scenes in planning fund-raising but instead would be used to promote the campaign; (4) may join a not-for-profit organization’s board to review scholarship applications from, and award scholarships to, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigrants; and (5) may use his/her judicial title in internal bar association communications as a bar association committee chair.

Opinion 20-81(B) A part-time judge may appear as legal commentator/analyst on television or online streaming shows, provided he/she does not comment on any pending or reasonably foreseeable cases in the United States or its territories.

Opinion 20-81(C) A part-time judge may not serve on the board of ASISTA.

Opinion 20-82/20-86 A judge who is disqualified, subject to remittal, in all cases involving a particular law office may offer the parties and their counsel an opportunity to remit disqualification, but must not actively advocate for remittal. While a judge may expedite the remittal process by using a form that memorializes the basis for disqualification, the form must fully disclose all relevant facts and must permit the parties and their counsel to decide freely without the judge’s participation. Nor may the judge preside in any non-ministerial stage of a case involving that law office, unless the disqualification is properly remitted. 

Opinion 20-83 A Supreme Court candidate may write a letter asking voters to vote in a primary election for a judicial delegate who will support his/her nomination but must make clear that his/her endorsement of the delegate is for the purpose of furthering his/her own candidacy for Supreme Court. This information should be contained in the body of the letter; a notation at the very bottom of the page, in a much smaller font than the rest of the letter, is insufficient.

Opinion 20-84 A full-time judge who formerly served as an assistant corporation counsel may participate in a panel discussion on legal careers for the law department’s summer interns.

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 20-86 is part of Opinion 20-82/20-86, above.)

Opinion 20-87 May a judge accompany his/her spouse, who is a candidate for elective public office, to an election night event to await primary results?

Opinion 20-88 Where a court officer’s job responsibilities include performing administrative and clerical duties for the court on days when the court is not in session, the judge may not permit a police officer to serve in this role.

Opinion 20-89 A judge may not mail congratulatory letters to a graduating high school class.

Opinion 20-90 A judge may not oppose an elected federal official or candidate for non-judicial public office in an editorial opinion piece.

Opinion 20-91 May a judge accept an unadvertised award at a not-for-profit organization’s fund-raising dinner and briefly express his/her thanks?

Opinion 20-92/20-93 On these facts, a judge may not participate in a silent “walk for justice.”

(Opinion 20-93 is part of Opinion 20-92/20-93, above.)

Opinion 20-94 May a village justice permit the court clerk to help the village attorney prepare plea bargain letters to defendant motorists, by inputting each defendant’s name and address and the officer, docket number and charges on each letter, where the letters would be mailed out on the village attorney’s letterhead with no visible sign of the court’s involvement?

Opinion 20-95 A part-time judge may not serve as a business agent for a correction officers' union.

Opinion 20-96 A part-time judge may serve on a county executive’s working group to review training at the county police academy, where the group’s membership is balanced and its goal is to help reduce and eliminate implicit bias. The judge must, however, be mindful of the need to maintain public confidence in his/her impartiality and must take particular care not to comment on any pending or impending case in the United States or its territories.

Opinion 20-97 A court must not be in the position of advocating a negotiated plea and, thus, must not distribute the District Attorney’s “informational document” to defendant motorists or otherwise implement the DA’s procedure for facilitating defendants’ pleas to lesser charges in Vehicle and Traffic Law matters. The court may, however, distribute a court-prepared form impartially listing all options for a defendant motorist and include a link to the DA’s website as a convenience to defendant motorists.

Opinion 20-98 Where a judge is being sued for acts allegedly undertaken in his/her former official capacity as a city attorney, rather than for conduct in his/her individual capacity: (1) During the representation, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from matters involving the specific city attorney(s) who are personally involved in the judge’s representation. Once the representation concludes, the judge may preside in matters involving those attorneys, provided he/she can be fair and impartial, and disclosure is entirely in his/her discretion. (2) Both during the representation and afterward, the judge may otherwise preside in matters involving the city and other co-defendants, city employees and other witnesses, and city attorneys who have no involvement in representing the judge, provided the judge can be fair and impartial. Disclosure is within the judge’s discretion. 

Opinion 20-99 (1) A town or village justice court must not “collaborate” or “work with” the district attorney’s office or the local town/village prosecutor. (2) The court may nonetheless invite defense bar representatives and the appropriate prosecutorial office to discuss procedures for handling mail-in pleas on traffic infractions. (3) The court must not promote or favor mail-in pleas and/or plea bargaining over a defendant motorist’s other options, even if this is intended to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. The court may, however, distribute a court-prepared form (such as UCS DCJA Form 1.0) impartially listing all options for a defendant motorist and include a link to the District Attorney’s website and/or email address as a convenience to defendants.

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Opinion 20-100 Where a judge’s first-degree relative has retained litigation counsel and sued a hospital: (1) During the litigation, the judge (a) must make full disclosure when the hospital appears before him/her, but may thereafter preside as long as he/she can be fair and impartial and no party is appearing without counsel but (b) is disqualified, subject to remittal, in matters involving an attorney who is involved in representing the judge’s first-degree relative, either directly or in a supervisory capacity; (2) For two years after the matter terminates, the judge must make full disclosure when either the hospital or his/her relative’s former counsel appears before him/her, but may thereafter preside as long as he/she can be fair and impartial and no party is appearing without counsel; (3) After the two-year period, the judge may preside in matters involving his/her relative’s former litigation opponent and former counsel without disclosure, provided he/she can be fair and impartial. NOTE: Modified by Opinion 21-22(A), which abolishes the "pro se remittal" rule.

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

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

(Inquiry 20-104 was withdrawn.)

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 20-106 Where a judge's prior financial connection with a commercial real estate trust completely terminated over a decade ago, the judge may preside over a lawsuit in which a subsidiary of that trust is a party.

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

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 20-109 May a full-time judge serve on the board of a not-for-profit organization involved in supporting the historic preservation of buildings?

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 20-111 Judicial candidates may attend virtual political fund-raising events during their window period, subject to the usual limitations on price and number of tickets, provided they attend and appear on screen along with other attendees.

Opinion 20-112 Where multiple high-profile, racially-charged incidents of police violence have resulted in ongoing or reasonably foreseeable litigation and intense local and national controversy, a judge may not participate in an initiative designed to (a) promote trust and open dialogue between activists and police concerning those incidents and/or (b) recommend changes to current police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices.

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 20-115 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney, whom the judge's spouse and the spouse's sibling have retained to probate their parent’s estate and to handle related matters? 

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.

(Inquiry 20-117 was withdrawn.)

(Inquiry 20-118 was withdrawn.)

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 20-121 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 20-122 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 20-123 A town justice may also work as a legal assistant at the appeals and opinions bureau of the attorney general’s office. 

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

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(Inquiry 20-125 was withdrawn.)

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

Opinion 20-128 On these facts, it is the obligation of the judge who wishes to be a member or leader in a not-for-profit entity to determine if it invidiously discriminates, engages in partisan political activity, or will insert the judge unnecessarily into public controversy.

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

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

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 20-132 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 20-135 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 20-136 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. 

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 20-140 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? 

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 him/her 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 20-142 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 20-143 It is permissible for a town security officer, who is a village police officer and not a court employee, to distribute the District Attorney's plea offers to arriving defendants, provided the judge and court clerk/staff have absolutely no actual or apparent involvement in their handling or distribution. NOTE: As this opinion addresses only the specific set-up of the inquiring judge’s court, it should be read together with Opinion 20-177 for a broader and more comprehensive perspective. 

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 20-145 A judge may drive members of a religious congregation in another state to their local polling sites, provided this effort is completely independent of any political organization or candidate and the judge avoids impermissible political activity.

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 their county?

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 20-149 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?

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Opinion 20-150 A judge who appointed a receiver in a now-concluded case may not, either at the receiver's request or on his/her own initiative, intervene or support the receiver's petition for representation by the Attorney General's office in a civil lawsuit alleging the receiver committed fraud. However, if the AG's office contacts the judge concerning the receiver's application, the judge may properly respond to questions within his/her personal knowledge.

Opinion 20-151 (1) A judge who files a disciplinary complaint against the District Attorney based on a prosecutorial policy that affects all local courts in the county is disqualified while the disciplinary proceeding is pending, and for two years after it is resolved, in any case where the District Attorney personally appears. Remittal is not available during this period unless the grievance committee imposes public discipline, or the District Attorney waives confidentiality. (2) The judge may nonetheless preside in cases where assistant district attorneys of the same office appear, even though the District Attorney is counsel of record, provided the judge is satisfied they did not set the policy and assuming he/she can be fair and impartial.

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

(Inquiry 20-153 was withdrawn.)

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. 

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.

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 20-160 is part of Opinion 20-157/20-160, above.)

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 20-174 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.

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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.

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.

(Inquiry 20-180 did not result in a published opinion.)

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?

(Inquiry 20-182 was withdrawn.)

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?

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. 

(Inquiry 20-186 was withdrawn.)

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?

(Inquiry 20-188 was withdrawn.)

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 20-190 (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 20-191/20-192 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 20-192 is part of Opinion 20-191/20-192, above.)

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 20-196 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 20-197 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 20-198 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 20-199 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.

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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 20-201 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 20-204 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 20-205 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.

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 20-208 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 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.

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Numerical Listing of 2021 Opinions

[Jump to 2009, 2010201120122013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022]

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.

(Inquiry 21-03 was withdrawn.)

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.

(Inquiry 21-08 was withdrawn.)

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

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.

(Inquiry 21-12 was withdrawn.)

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. 

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. 

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(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.

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 21-23 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 21-41, which partially overrules points 2 and 3 of the digest.

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.

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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?

(Inquiry 21-28 was withdrawn.)

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 21-30 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 21-31 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.

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.

(Inquiry 21-37 was withdrawn.)

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?

(Inquiry 21-44 was withdrawn.)

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.

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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.

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)?

(Inquiry 21-58 was withdrawn.)

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 21-66 We cannot comment on a pending investigation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, even at the Commission’s request.

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.

(Inquiry 21-69 was withdrawn.)

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.

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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.

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 21-90 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 21-91 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 21-92 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 21-93 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 21-94 May a part-time attorney judge serve as a part-time prosecutor in a neighboring county?

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.

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.

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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.

(Inquiry 21-113 was withdrawn.)

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.

Opinion 21-115 A family court judge may not accept an appointment to the Judicial Leadership Council of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem Association for Children nor permit the organization to "promote" the judge on social media and its website.

Opinion 21-116 (1) Where a judge regularly assigns a particular attorney as 18-B counsel or attorney for the child in a large number of cases, if the judge hires that attorney’s life partner as the judge’s personal secretary, the judge (a) must not approve the attorney’s payment vouchers and (b) must not assign or appoint the attorney in future cases while the conflict persists. (2) If these limitations will significantly interfere with the judge’s performance of judicial duties, the judge should not hire the secretary.

Opinion 21-117 A judge may write a book review for a legal textbook and may retain the reviewed book in their personal library.

Opinion 21-118 May a full-time judge serve on a community advisory committee for a religiously affiliated not-for-profit nursing home?

Opinion 21-119 Whether a judge may, in the exercise of discretion, reduce or waive certain Vehicle and Traffic Law surcharges regardless of a defendant's ability to pay is a question of law which this Committee has no authority to address.

Opinion 21-120 A judge's obligation to disqualify in matters involving their former campaign manager terminates two years after the campaign manager relationship has ended. Once the two-year period expires, the judge may preside in matters involving the former campaign manager, provided the judge can be fair and impartial, and disclosure is not required. Opinions 06-54 and 07-26 are overruled or modified to the extent inconsistent with this conclusion.

Opinion 21-121 May a full-time judge write to members of the county legislature to emphasize the urgency of completing certain repairs to the courthouse, to encourage them to proceed promptly, and to suggest using certain federal monies the county has received? If so, may the judge also encourage other local judges to express support for completing these courthouse repairs?

Opinion 21-122 Where an attorney recently provided brief and preliminary legal advice to the judge's law clerk's child, the judge may preside in unrelated matters where the attorney appears without disclosure or insulation of the law clerk.

Opinion 21-123 A full-time court attorney-referee who receives a commission of over $150 for serving as executor of a family member's estate must report it to the clerk of the court as required by Section 100.4(H)(2).

Opinion 21-124 A full-time judge may serve as a "fire officer" or "trustee" for a not-for-profit volunteer fire department, provided the position does not confer peace officer or police officer status, does not involve investigative responsibilities or working with law enforcement, and does not involve the judge with fund-raising.

Opinion 21-125 May a judge whose spouse is the local Conflict Defender preside over matters involving their spouse’s subordinates?

Opinion 21-126 May a part-time village justice accept employment as secretary to the town supervisor of a nearby town?

Opinion 21-127 Provided that the judge's interest in seeking elective nonjudicial office is not announced in advance, a judge need not resign from judicial office before attending a political party's caucus to nominate candidates and allowing eligible party members to vote on whether to nominate the judge for that office. If the judge receives the nomination, the judge must immediately resign from judicial office.

Opinion 21-128 (1) The window period for an individual seeking election to Supreme Court commences nine months before the earlier of (a) the date of formal nomination by convention; or (b) the date of a recognized party-sponsored caucus or committee meeting within the candidate's judicial district held for the purpose of discussing or considering nominations of delegates to the judicial nominating convention, even if a resulting designation or endorsement would be subject to a subsequent contest. (2) If no date for such a meeting has yet been set, the candidate may assume that the previous year's official date will be used again for the upcoming party meeting and then count back nine months from that presumed date.

Opinion 21-129 A full-time judge may serve on an ad hoc interview committee for a public school district for any position that is currently open.

Opinion 21-130 May a judge write a letter in support of a court clerk's request for promotion within the court system, based on personal knowledge?  

Opinion 21-131 (1) A judicial candidate may not enter into a contract with a law firm in which the candidate agrees to recuse in certain matters if elected. (2) The inquirer may share this or other ethics opinions with counsel.

Opinion 21-132 (1) A part-time lawyer judge who was assigned as a special prosecutor before assuming the bench, and did not seek to withdraw or be relieved as special prosecutor on assuming the bench, may request and accept permissible legal fees and disbursements for prosecutorial work performed before assuming the bench, but may not accept compensation for prosecutorial work performed after assuming the bench. The judge must take reasonable steps to amend or supplement any previously submitted vouchers as needed and to return any compensation already received for prosecutorial work erroneously performed after assuming judicial office. (2) A part-time lawyer judge may not ordinarily appear before another part-time lawyer judge in the same county, but may do so if that judge is a full-time employee of the Unified Court System and presides in a different court. (3) Where all judges of a court in the same county are part-time lawyer judges, a practicing part-time lawyer judge may not represent a client before any judge of that court and may not ask for a non-attorney judge outside of that court to be assigned to the case. (4) A part-time lawyer judge must prohibit their partners and associates from appearing in the judge’s own court, but need not prohibit their partners and associates from appearing before the part-time lawyer judges of other courts in the same county.

Opinion 21-133 Where a part-time lawyer judge is representing a client on a litigated matter, may the judge respond to media requests for information and comment on that matter?

Opinion 21-134 A village justice may send a mailing to village residents detailing, and limited to, the court's jurisdiction and the types of cases heard in the village court, as it is limited to the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.

Opinion 21-135 May a judge conduct off-hour arraignments at a county jail, pursuant to a proposed county-wide change in arraignment procedures?

Opinion 21-136 A full-time judge may not serve as an advisory board member of a recovery center and youth clubhouse affiliated with a CASA program, for which the inquiring judge makes referrals as the county-wide substance abuse treatment court.

Opinion 21-137 May a court attorney-referee report a litigant to the DA’s office for perjury?

Opinion 21-138 Where a judge reported to court administrators that a part-time attorney judge inappropriately appeared as a prosecutor, and was advised that the District Administrative Judge has addressed the matter, the judge need not take any further action.

Opinion 21-139 May a village justice provide the village clerk a list of summonses issued for the month, to be presented to a village board of trustees?

(Inquiry 21-140 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 21-141 A village justice should not permit a local police officer to simultaneously serve in dual roles as the court security officer and as a prosecutor/witness at the same court session.

Opinion 21-142 (1) Judges may attend a conference co-sponsored by a non-political, not-for-profit charitable and educational organization as well as by the New York State Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force. (2) As the conference is a fund-raiser, a judicial association may not be the guest of honor but may accept an unadvertised award ancillary to the event. Accordingly, the fact that the judicial association will be honored must not be advertised in advance by the event sponsors; it may be revealed in a program or agenda circulated during the event but must not be mentioned in advance on the invitations or announcements. The judicial association may nonetheless notify its own members that the association will be honored at the conference should they wish to attend. The judicial association must not invite or solicit attendance at the conference beyond its own members.

Opinion 21-143 A part-time attorney judge may not represent a police benevolent association, whether in a non-adjoining town in the same county or in a village in another county, as an appearance of impropriety would be created, based on a perception that the judge is too closely aligned with law enforcement interests.

(Inquiry 21-144 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 21-145 Where a judge has learned in the course of the judge’s official judicial duties that another court may have the current address information of an individual who has failed to pay outstanding fines, and the judge has made a good-faith legal determination concerning the lawfulness of issuing a new or amended bench warrant for the individual’s arrest for non-payment of outstanding fines using the new address, the judge may contact the other court and request the defendant’s address as information of public record.

Opinion 21-146 An appointed judge whose second-degree relative is presently incarcerated or on parole for a sex offense (1) may preside in other sex offense cases, provided the judge can be fair and impartial, and need not make any disclosure to the parties; (2) need not make any disclosure to the appointing authority; and (3) may be a housing resource for their relative, but may not use the prestige of judicial office to advance the relative’s parole release conditions or other private interests.

Opinion 21-147 A judicial association may publicly condemn the deliberate and unauthorized disclosure of a judge's residential address, as such disclosures may compromise the personal safety and security of judges and/or court personnel and thus affect the administration of justice.

Opinion 21-148 May a part-time city judge simultaneously serve as an assistant county attorney handling child welfare matters?

Opinion 21-149 A judge may allow their court staff to solicit lawyers for voluntary pro bono representation of defendants in consumer debt cases, provided the judge avoids the appearance of coercing attorneys to participate in such representation. Additionally, allowing volunteer attorneys to appear virtually as lawyer for the day is acceptable.

Opinion 21-150 A judge may accept a law firm’s offer of pro bono representation for the purpose of filing a lawsuit to challenge the Unified Court System’s vaccine mandates, where the law firm has not come and is not likely to come before the judge, subject to a reporting requirement if the value of the waived legal fees exceeds $150. The judge, however, may not disseminate a blanket email to all judges asking if any are interested in joining the proposed lawsuit.

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Opinion 21-151 (1) A new part-time judge who previously represented clients as a non-supervisory assistant public defender: (a) is permanently disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, in any case where the judge previously participated as an attorney and (b) is disqualified, subject to remittal, from all matters involving their former clients, for two years after the attorney-client relationship completely ends. (2) Once the two-year period has elapsed, the judge may preside in matters involving these former clients, provided the judge had absolutely no involvement as an attorney in the specific case before the judge and assuming the judge can be fair and impartial. (3) If the judge becomes aware that a case before the judge has substantial connections that are material and relevant to a case where the judge had previously served as an assistant public defender, the judge should fully disclose the connection between the two cases, as well as the nature and extent of the judge’s involvement in the prior proceeding, but may thereafter preside if the judge concludes they can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 21-152 A judge may attend a local “Survivors Group,” composed of domestic violence victims, to better understand the difficulties encountered by victims of domestic violence, so long as no member of the group is a victim or witness in a matter currently pending before the judge.

Opinion 21-153 A judge who receives a message from another judge asking them to consider a fine for an acquaintance lower than the fine the prosecutor is recommending must report the other judge to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Opinion 21-154 A full-time judge (1) may hold shares in a family-held limited liability company that owns real estate, and participate in management of the company’s real estate investment, but (2) must not manage, operate, or otherwise actively participate in a family-held bar business that operates on the company’s real estate.

(Inquiry 21-155 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 21-156 A full-time judge may apply for an appointment as a federal administrative law judge and go through background checks and salary negotiations prior to acceptance of an offer. The judge may continue to serve in the state judiciary post-acceptance until the day before starting work as administrative law judge.

Opinion 21-157 May a judge privately present an award and plaque to a martial arts teacher/practitioner on behalf of a not-for-profit organization, and thereafter permit photographs to be posted publicly on the organization’s website?

Opinion 21-158 May a county magistrates’ association comment on the District Attorney’s proposal to the county legislature to abolish local justice courts in favor of a district court system in the county?

Opinion 21-159 May a judge who is a disabled veteran become a regular member of the not-for-profit charitable entity, Disabled Veterans of America?

Opinion 21-160 May a judge with relevant personal knowledge write a letter supporting a nonjudicial court employee’s request for a promotion?

Opinion 21-161 On the facts presented, a part-time judge may not serve on the board of a reentry services organization that engages in advocacy and takes positions on controversial issues.

(Inquiry 21-162 was withdrawn.)

Opinion 21-163 A town justice may consent to hiring a part-time court clerk who would, if hired, continue their current employment as a senior account clerk, in a strictly clerical capacity, in the payroll department for the county sheriff’s office. However, the judge must instruct the court clerk to advise the judge if the clerk’s non-judicial employment duties change materially.

Opinion 21-164 Provided the judge is satisfied they can be fair and impartial, the judge may preside in a case where (1) the plaintiff is an attorney who frequently appears before the judge and was previously co-counsel with the judge’s sibling on several discrete cases and (2) plaintiff’s counsel rents office space in the same office as the judge’s sibling and also is an elected county legislator representing the district where the judge resides.

Opinion 21-165 (1) Where court staff have relayed to a judge certain remarks made openly by a physician witness while waiting for the case to be called, and the judge concludes those remarks reflect gender and other bias and a lack of professionalism to a level that could directly impact the doctor’s credibility and/or might be relevant in evaluating the conclusions reached in the physician’s report, the judge (a) may, but need not, report the remarks to an appropriate authority, and (b) must disclose the remarks to all parties so that they may be heard on the matter. (2) Whether the judge may rely on these remarks in a published decision is a legal question on which we cannot comment. (3) The judge may, in their sole discretion, disclose that they sought ethical advice in this matter.

Opinion 21-166 Although a full-time judge may serve on the board of trustees of a not-for-profit private school, the judge (1) may not serve on the board’s audit/risk committee, (2) may not solicit a legal opinion from an attorney on behalf of the board, and (3) may not negotiate a discounted fee with an attorney or law firm for legal services to the school.

Opinion 21-167 A judge may respond to the county comptroller’s survey concerning the county’s assigned counsel program, subject to generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct.

Opinion 21-168 Whether an administrative judge may direct a court attorney-referee to comply with a memorandum from OCA Counsel does not raise any ethical issues, but instead only legal/administrative matters, which are outside the Committee’s jurisdiction.

Opinion 21-169 The Committee does not answer hypothetical or speculative questions.

Opinion 21-170 A judge who completed a mediation skills program at a law school’s mediation clinic may permit the clinic to post the judge’s comments about the course and the judge’s experiences with alternative dispute resolution on its Instagram account for general advertising and recruitment efforts, provided the judge is satisfied the judge’s name, words, and image will not be used for fund-raising.

Opinion 21-171 (1) The Committee does not answer hypothetical or speculative questions. (2) On the facts presented, it is within the inquiring judge’s sole discretion to determine if there is a substantial likelihood that a law firm’s actions constitute a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and, if so, what action is appropriate.

Opinion 21-172 A new full-time judge who was until recently an assistant public defender: (1) is permanently disqualified, without the possibility of remittal, from all matters in which the judge participated as an attorney, in any capacity, either personally or as a supervisor; (2) is disqualified, subject to remittal, for a period of two years, from any matter involving the judge’s former client; but (3) may otherwise immediately preside over new matters that are filed by the public defender’s office, including those where a defendant is represented by an attorney who was previously supervised by the judge, provided that the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 21-173 A town justice may not accept employment as confidential secretary to the county sheriff, where the court’s calendar includes a substantial number of tickets issued by the sheriff’s deputies.

Opinion 21-174 (1) Provided the judge can be fair and impartial in the underlying criminal case, the judge need not disqualify if the judge or their law clerk cooperate as fact witnesses in a police investigation concerning a bench conference in which an active state trooper was identified solely as defense counsel’s “associate.” (2) The judge also need not insulate the law clerk, provided the judge is satisfied the law clerk can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 21-175 When a village trustee resigns to take office as village justice, is he/she required to disqualify whenever the village attorney appears and/or in all cases involving village laws or ordinances?

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Opinion 21-176 Where the court’s chief clerk has filed a criminal complaint against a litigant for making threats against the clerk, whether the judge must recuse from the litigant’s pending matters is a discretionary decision to be guided by the judge’s conscience.

Opinion 21-177 May a judge, at the request of an assistant district attorney who regularly appears before them, write a letter of recommendation in support of the attorney's application for employment as a federal prosecutor?

Opinion 21-178 A town justice may not simultaneously serve as the director of a non-profit civil legal services agency where the judge’s responsibilities include overseeing attorneys and advocates who are likely to appear in the judge’s court in summary eviction proceedings.

Opinion 21-179 A full-time judge (1) may serve on the board of a not-for-profit organization that seeks to empower people with disabilities to live as independently as possible and works with criminal justice organizations to improve public safety and the delivery of justice but (2) may not serve on the legislative taskforce of a not-for-profit organization that seeks to develop independent living spaces for individuals with disabilities.

Opinion 21-180 May a judicial association “make a financial donation to a nonprofit organization that local courts often include as a required condition of pretrial or post-conviction decisions,” in the name of a former member who worked closely with the organization on retiring from the judiciary? May a judge pers