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Numerical Listing of 2013 Opinions
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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 May a part-time judge accept appointment as a volunteer member of a legislatively established statewide council which reviews inmate grievances?
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 Digest: (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 May a part-time judge permit his/her name and likeness to be used in advertising his/her law practice?
Opinion 13-12 May a Family Court judge serve on the advisory board of the children's rights division of a not-for-profit organization?
Opinion 13-13 May a judge 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 May a judge 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 May a judge 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 May a judge who is not in his/her window period for election 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 May a part-time town justice accept appointment to the compensated part-time position of historian for the same municipality in which he/she presides?
Opinion 13-24 Digest: (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.
Opinion 13-25 May a part-time judge accept employment as an Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator at a correctional facility?
Opinion 13-26 Is a judge required to disqualify him/herself when an attorney, who represents the judge's law clerk or secretary or who has a personal relationship with the judge's law clerk or secretary, appears in the judge's court?
(Inquiry 13-27 did not result in a published opinion.)
Opinion 13-28 May a judge permit a town supervisor to also serve as a security officer for the town court?
Opinion 13-29 May a full-time judge 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 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 May a judge 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 May the court advise a defendant of a police department's procedures for seeking a plea reduction?
Opinion 13-34 May a judge who presides in a criminal part 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 May a judge presiding in a criminal part seek post-retirement employment with a not-for-profit organization that provides training and support services to prosecutors?
(Inquiry 13-37 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 13-38 May a judge, 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?
Opinion 13-39 Does the mere status of being "Facebook friends," without more, require a judge's disqualification in a case?
Opinion 13-40 May a judge 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 May 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) continue to preside over any additional proceedings which come before him/her in the particular case, (2) preside over other matters in which the judge's federal court co-defendants or their counsel appear, and (3) appoint an attorney who is the judge’s co-defendant in the federal court case to Part 36 or other appointments?
Opinion 13-42 May a justice court advertise 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 Is a part-time judge who previously served on a few occasions as a part-time prosecutor by designation required to disclose in criminal matters that the district attorney has revoked this designation without explanation?
Opinion 13-45 May a judge 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?
Opinion 13-46 Must a judge disqualify him/herself in matters where the county is a party, if the county is a tenant of the judge's first-degree relative?
Opinion 13-47 Must a judge disqualify him/herself 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 the judge's 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 Must a part-time lawyer/judge disclose that the assistant district attorney appearing before him/her is engaged to an associate at the judge's law firm?
Opinion 13-50 Is it legal for a part-time judge, in his/her outside employment as an administrative law judge of a traffic bureau, to accept a guilty plea from a pro se defendant that includes incarceration?
Opinion 13-51/13-169 Digest: 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 Must 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, disclose that the defendant is a former client of the judge's law firm and/or take any other 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 Must 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 Must 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, take any further action?
Opinion 13-61 Must 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 report the attorney to the disciplinary committee?
Opinion 13-62 May a judge preside over a criminal case where a prospective witness is the presiding judge's former client and a jury will hear the evidence and render a verdict?
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 Is a judge's disqualification from matters involving his/her campaign treasurer's law firm subject to remittal during the judge's election campaign?
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 May a part-time judge 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 Digest: 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 May a part-time attorney/judge who occasionally performs arraignments in 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, be included on a list of attorneys who are willing to serve as compensated arbitrators in that municipality?
Opinion 13-73 Is 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, 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.)
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 May a judge participate as a presenter at a victim impact panel in the jurisdiction where the judge presides?
Opinion 13-80 May a judge preside over matters in which the judge's summer intern's parent's law firm appears?
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 May a judge teach a law school course devoted solely to an in-depth analysis of a highly publicized local criminal trial, where the time for appeal has elapsed, but a related civil case is pending?
Opinion 13-83 Must 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, disqualify him/herself from matters involving the individual until the Order of Protection expires?
Opinion 13-84 May a full-time judge be a shareholder in a closely held consulting business owned by the judge's non-attorney spouse, and also be included in a family photograph that will be posted on the website or other advertisements for that business?
Opinion 13-85 May a part-time judge who is retained as an expert witness include his/her judicial status in a curriculum vitae to be exchanged during discovery?
Opinion 13-86 May a judge provide head note style information about a judicial decision when submitting it to a law journal for possible publication?
Opinion 13-87 May a judge be one of several board members honored at a not-for-profit organization's fund-raising event? May the judge provide names of individuals for the organization to invite to the event and identify contacts who may be interested in a fund-raising leadership role?
Opinion 13-88 May a judge 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 May a judge meet privately with a local political party regarding the inner workings of the court?
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 May a part-time judge accept paid employment as an assistant staff counsel to a minority conference of a county legislature?
Opinion 13-99/13-100/13-101/13-102 May a judicial candidate pay to attend a political fund-raiser for which no tickets are sold and no standard admission price has been set? May a judicial candidate purchase an advertisement in a journal that will be distributed at a political party’s fund-raiser?
(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 May a judge whose spouse is a supervisor in the county probation department preside in criminal matters where the department participates?
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?
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 his/her co-judge practicing law in the village court where the judge also presides?
Opinion 13-113 May a full-time judge accompany his/her close friends to a small claims proceeding in which the friends appear as parties?
Opinion 13-114 Must a judge 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 May a judge 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 May a Housing Court judge speak at a meeting of a property owners' organization about court procedures in landlord-tenant matters?
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 May a part-time judge 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 May the judges' division of a specialized bar association that is dedicated to fighting a serious illness approve a grant to a not-for-profit charitable organization which does not engage in lobbying, if some of the money may be used to help train individuals to lobby for increased funding and improved health care?
Opinion 13-123 Is the title a judge has chosen for his/her law related book ethically permissible?
Opinion 13-124/13-125/13-128/13-129 (1) May a judge meet privately with the public defender concerning implementation of a new counsel-at-arraignment program for indigent defendants? (2) May a judge speak ex parte with a defendant on topics relevant to determining the defendant's financial eligibility for the counsel-at-arraignment program, where the program is, by its terms, restricted to indigent defendants? (3) Where the district attorney is on notice that the counsel-at-arraignment program is in effect, may a judge consider the district attorney's failure to send, designate or otherwise reasonably make available a representative to attend or participate in such arraignments, as implied consent for the judge to conduct such arraignments ex parte? (4) May a judge accede to a public defender's request that the judge 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?
Opinion 13-126 May a judicial candidate 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 What, if any, action must a court attorney referee take after hearing testimony in a matrimonial matter about an attorney's personal use of client funds?
(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 May a part-time judge also be employed as a pistol permit clerk in the local sheriff's department?
Opinion 13-131 May a town or village justice permit a local constable to serve as a part-time court security officer or as a court interpreter?
Opinion 13-132 (1) May or must a judge advise the District Attorney that the judge's sibling, grandparent, or grandchild is currently a defendant in a criminal case? (2) What are a judge's obligations when a private attorney who appears before the judge is currently representing (or has recently represented) the judge’s sibling, grandparent, or grandchild?
Opinion 13-133 Are principal law clerks who are appointed to serve part-time as SCAR hearing officers during regular court hours as part of their job responsibilities subject to the same restrictions as sitting judges with respect to political activities?
Opinion 13-134 (1) May a judge who regularly presides over criminal matters, in which members of the local Fraternal Order of Police appear, be a member or officer of the organization? Attend the organization's monthly dinner meetings? May the judge’s personal appointees be members or officers of the organization and attend the organization's monthly meetings? (2) May a judge 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? Contribute to the organization's charity drives? May a judge permit his/her personal appointees to undertake similar charitable efforts in connection with the organization?
Opinion 13-135 Digest: 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) May Judges who attend an educational program sponsored by the Office of Court Administration and hosted by a law school accept reimbursement from the law school host? (2) May Judges 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) May a candidate for judicial office participate in a joint advertisement, prepared on behalf of a slate of judicial and non-judicial candidates, that characterizes the slate as a "team" and urges voters to vote for particular row(s) on the ballot on which the slate appears? (2) Must a candidate for judicial office use a disclaimer in such an advertisement indicating that he/she is not publicly endorsing other candidates?
Opinion 13-138 Digest: (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 May a judge purchase tickets to, and attend, a non-political retirement celebration for an elected official?
Opinion 13-140 May a judge address a civilian complaint review board on the law of search and seizure and arrest procedures?
Opinion 13-141 May a full-time judge serve as a friend's health care agent?
Opinion 13-142 May a judge who presides in a collaborative problem-solving court accept an award for the court and an associated monetary grant from a not-for-profit organization at a non-fund-raising event and speak briefly to acknowledge the award and grant?
Opinion 13-143 May a judge who is not in his/her window period attend a victory party for a newly elected co-judge when the party is separate and distinct from the co-judge's swearing-in ceremony?
Opinion 13-144 Do the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 May a full-time judge 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?
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 Digest: 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 May a judge participate in creating and producing a video to provide information about the history and "current capabilities" of the court where the judge serves, and 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 May a judge serve as a deacon in his/her church, and stand at designated locations with other deacons and hold a plate or basket for the collection of tithes and offerings?
Opinion 13-162 May a judge who co-owns a rental building with an attorney preside over matters in which his/her co-owner appears?
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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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) Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Is an Administrative Judge required to inform another judge that the Administrative Judge received a copy of a disciplinary complaint filed against the other judge?
Opinion 13-172May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who is the spouse of a broker that your spouse has engaged to sell his/her parent’s 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?
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 your court, appears before him/her?
Opinion 13-175 Is a judge disqualified from presiding over petitions prepared and filed by the judge's successor in the County Attorney's office, merely because the petitions rely on documents filed by another government official or department while the judge was employed as the County Attorney?
Opinion 13-176 Digest: 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.
Opinion 13-177 Digest: 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 May a judge who owns a home in a multi-unit building publicly express his/her views on a proposal by building maintenance employees to unionize?
Opinion 13-179 May 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 May a part-time judge who also serves as a full-time principal law clerk to a full-time judge preside (1) in cases where another part-time attorney judge appears? (2) in cases where the full-time judge's sibling appears?
Opinion 13-183 Digest: 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 Digest: 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?
Numerical Listing of 2014 Opinions
Opinion 14-01 May a judge preside over an arraignment when a defendant is not represented by counsel?
(Opinion 14-02 is part of Opinion 13-189/14-02, above.)
Opinion 14-03 May a full-time judge serve as the executor of a parent's estate and give uncompensated legal advice to his/her parent? May a full-time judge serve as attorney for a parent’s 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 Is it permissible for a judge to host a court website on a social network?
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 May a Family Court 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, preside over matters in which the county attorney's office appears?
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 May a judge who issued a decision on a novel legal issue 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?
Opinion 14-10 May a judge who formerly served as the District Attorney for the county where the judge presides preside over cases in which the District Attorney's office appears?
Opinion 14-11 May a judge who has sued the Public Defender preside in matters where the Public Defender or attorneys subject to the Public Defender’s supervision appear?
Opinion 14-12 May a judge sua sponte advise defendants of a specific plea agreement the judge anticipates the prosecutor will offer and explain its purported advantages?
Opinion 14-13 What are the ethical obligations of a judge who sold his/her former law office telephone number to an attorney for a lump sum, when the purchasing attorney appears before the judge?
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 May a judge amend his/her prior order to correct an error or omission that a party has brought to the judge’s attention?
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 May a judge who is trained in the proper collection procedure for collecting DNA samples pursuant to applicable law undertake to collect DNA samples from individuals who have been found guilty and sentenced in the judge's court, for the convenience of defendants?
Opinion 14-20 May a supervising judge 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 May a full-time judge who has independently written, published, marketed, and sold a bench book online also sell 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?
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 May a judge attend a CLE education program where the judge's decision on a novel legal issue will be discussed, while the matter remains pending or impending? May the judge write a law review article discussing the rationale behind the decision and its potential impact on future decisions?
Opinion 14-27 May a judge preside when the judge’s former law clerk’s current law firm partners and associates appear in the judge’s court?
Opinion 14-28 May a part-time judge 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 May a judge hold a leadership role in a "non-partisan feminist coalition" which advocates for and influences legislative and social policy affecting women and children? Be a regular member of the organization? Attend meetings or events? Make contributions to the organization?
Opinion 14-30 What are the ethical obligations of judge who listed an attorney as a reference in the judge’s application for appointment or re-appointment when that attorney or his/her law firm colleagues appear before the judge? May the judge appoint such attorneys to fiduciary or other appointive positions?
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) May a judge preside where a prospective witness and alleged victim in a criminal case is the presiding judge's former client in a case concluded more than five years ago? (2) May a judge preside where a prospective witness and alleged victim in a criminal case was formerly a respondent in a neglect proceeding the judge prosecuted in his/her former capacity as a government attorney?
Opinion 14-33 May a judge, 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 Is it appropriate for a judge to defer to a legal interpretation reached by another branch of government concerning the appointment of counsel for indigent defendants, when such interpretation is inconsistent with the judge's own good-faith interpretation of the law?
Opinion 14-35 May a full-time judge discuss the Bill of Rights at a public school teachers' conference, and accept an honorarium from a not-for-profit organization?
Opinion 14-36 May a town or village justice 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 Must a judge report an attorney to the disciplinary authority after learning the attorney is under indictment?
Opinion 14-40/14-43 May a judge who is a member of a bar association's judicial section 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 May a judge purchase tickets to and attend a fund-raising dinner for a not-for-profit organization that provides assistance to and advocates for victims of domestic violence, where the organization's volunteers sometimes accompany complainants to the judge's courtroom?
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 May a judge accept an unannounced award at a college's fund-raising event? Be identified during and after the event as an award recipient? Be listed as a past award recipient on the college's website once the event is concluded?
Opinion 14-46 May a full-time quasi-judicial official serve as a coach for a local public school's sports team and accept the reasonable compensation offered?
Opinion 14-47 May a judge preside 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 May a judge, quasi-judicial official, or candidate for election to judicial office 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?
Opinion 14-50 Is a judge ethically required to take any action in furtherance of his/her disciplinary responsibilities where 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) May a judge preside after entry of judgment in the trial phase of a judge's relative's criminal proceedings when a prosecutor or defender who was personally involved at the trial phase appears before the judge on unrelated matters? (2) May a judge preside when an attorney who is personally involved in handling the judge's relative's criminal appeal appears in the judge’s court? (3) Must a judge disclose or disqualify when the assistant public defender who was initially appointed to represent the judge's relative on appeal appears?
Opinion 14-52 May a judge permit an author to observe proceedings in the judge's courtroom and write about them and about the individuals involved, and respond to the author's general questions about the court and its legal procedures?
Opinion 14-53 May an attorney who is a part-time town judge practice law as partner of an attorney who is a part-time village prosecutor?
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 May a judge who is called as a witness in a criminal case concerning threats allegedly made against the judge continue to preside over unrelated matters involving the attorneys who are prosecuting or defending that criminal case?
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) What steps may the judge take to clear his/her title? (2) May the judge use the court's clerical and other resources to assist in preparing a pro se expungement proceeding? (3) May the judge continue to preside in the criminal case?
Opinion 14-59 Must a judge disclose that his/her minor children work part-time as babysitters for the children of an attorney who appears in the judge's court?
Opinion 14-60 (1) May a judge whose first-degree relative has been arraigned on criminal charges preside when a prosecutor who is personally involved in the criminal case appears before the judge? (2) Must a judge disclose or recuse when other prosecutors from the same office appear before the judge?
Opinion 14-61 (1) May a part-time judge who until recently was employed as a secretary in the local prosecutor's office preside when his/her former supervisor appears in court? (2) May a part-time judge who was employed as a secretary in the District Attorney's office more than four years ago preside when the District Attorney’s office appears in court?
Opinion 14-62 May a judge preside in a case where a party currently appearing before him/her is also an attorney who regularly appears before the judge? Is the judge thereafter required to disclose or disqualify him/herself in other matters in which the attorney or his/her law firm appears?
Opinion 14-63 May a city court judge who is appointed by a body of city officials that includes the mayor preside in a case where the mayor, or the mayor's relative, appears as an attorney?
Opinion 14-64 May an appellate judge whose first-degree relative is a law enforcement officer with supervisory responsibilities within the jurisdiction of the judge's court preside over cases in which the law enforcement agency appears?
Opinion 14-65 May a town justice preside in a case involving the Town Highway Superintendent?
Opinion 14-66 May a part-time judge who also is a high-level employee of the county government: (1) allocate funds annually to a probation department employment program; (2) participate in the solicitation of funds; and (3) meet with elected officials to advocate for maintenance of services to a particular category of individuals?
Opinion 14-67 Is a full-time judge required to file a report with the clerk of the court 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 Must a town or village justice prohibit the court clerk from engaging in charitable fund-raising on his/her own time?
Opinion 14-69 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to suggest that his/her wedding guests consider contributing to a charity of their choice in lieu of giving a wedding gift?
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 May a village justice preside when members of the town board appear, where the town board does not participate in setting the village court's budget or its justice's salary, but the town board pays a portion of the village court's clerical expenses?
Opinion 14-73 May a judge 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 use his/her judicial stationery marked "personal and unofficial"?
Opinion 14-74 May a full-time judge 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?
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 May a judge who frequently presides in criminal cases 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 Is remittal of disqualification available when a party is legally in default?
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 May a part-time lawyer/judge 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 Must a judge disqualify him/herself, solely because a party appearing before the judge is the spouse of another judge who presides in the same court?
Opinion 14-82 May 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?
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 May a town justice preside 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) May a judge provide a testimonial for the judge's former campaign manager to use in advertisements? (2) May a judge who serves as a director of a not-for-profit organization allow the judge's name to be listed with the names of other directors on the organization's fund-raising brochure? With the names of other donors?
Opinion 14-86 Is reporting mandatory when a judge, in the course of presiding over a criminal case, learns that the same individual who signed the underlying criminal complaint later presided over the arraignment and signed a securing order in his/her judicial capacity?
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 Is a judge required to report an attorney to the grievance committee after the attorney appearing before the judge pro se testifies under oath that he/she used a fictitious bank account to shield his/her law firm income from court-ordered child support payments?
Opinion 14-89 May a judge form a general partnership with his/her first cousins that will operate as an investment club?
Opinion 14-90 Is a judge who has a social relationship with the deputy director of a legal services organization required to disqualify him/herself or disclose the relationship when the deputy director's subordinates appear before the judge?
Opinion 14-91 May a judge preside in matters involving a local prosecutor when the judge and the prosecutor maintain office space in the same building?
Opinion 14-92/14-94 When does a judicial candidate’s window period begin when the party designating meeting has been held and then a new meeting is scheduled due to withdrawal of a candidate from the campaign?
Opinion 14-93 (1) May a judge be honored as a distinguished alumnus/alumna at a college’s fund-raising event, where 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 the judge permit the college to include information about the judge in a journal that will be distributed to guests during the event? (3) May the judge 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 the judge permit the college to play the video recording during the gala fund-raising event and thereafter post it on the college’s website?
(Opinion 14-94 is part of Opinion 14-92/14-94, above.)
Opinion 14-95 May a judge attend an event sponsored by a not-for-profit political organization? May a judge 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 May a judge who is a retired law enforcement officer 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 May a part-time lawyer judge enter into an agreement with a private company to provide security and marketing services as a subcontractor, where the private company has its own 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?
Opinion 14-100 May a Surrogate participate in ongoing meetings with the local public administrator and court personnel in order to more closely monitor the performance of the public administrator's office?
(Inquiry 14-101 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 14-102 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who was initially appointed as Attorney for the Child in the judge's relative's custody proceeding, where the attorney's involvement in the judge's relative's case was brief and preliminary in nature?
Opinion 14-103 (1) Is a judge 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) May a judge 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 May a judge who is also employed as an adjunct law school professor and co-director of a law school program 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 May an administrative judge who is required to transmit the name of an individual recommended for a particular appointment to the appointing authority, do so when he/she has ethical or administrative concerns about the suitability of the appointment?
Opinion 14-107 May a full-time city court judge who presides outside the City of New York 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 May a town justice whose spouse is a village trustee preside over arraignments for the village court when the village justice and acting village justice are unavailable?
Opinion 14-112 May a judge participate in a culturally mandated celebration and burial ceremony in honor of the judge’s deceased parent, which will take place in another country, in which, as part of the ceremony, family, friends and other well-wishers will shower the judge and his/her siblings with local currency?
Opinion 14-113 May a candidate for judicial office accept the endorsement of a newly formed political party which is limited to the single issue suggested by the party's name?
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 May an Appellate Division judge whose spouse serves on a departmental Committee on Character and Fitness preside when a matter involving an application for admission comes before the court?
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 May a judge 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 May a village justice 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?
Opinion 14-121 May a judge who chose to recuse him/herself in one case after a litigant filed a complaint about the judge preside over other cases in which that litigant appears?
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?
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 May a judge whose formal complaint against another judge resulted in public discipline more than two years ago preside when the disciplined judge appears as an attorney in the judge’s court?
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) May a Judicial Hearing Officer serve as a hearing officer for the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics?
Opinion 14-129(B) May a judicial hearing officer (JHO) who is certified to work in Supreme and Family Courts in a particular county argue an appeal from a case decided in one of those courts?
Opinion 14-130 What if any action must a judge take when a political candidate's fund-raising publication uses a photograph that includes the judge's image?
Opinion 14-131 (1) May 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, continue to preside over the firm's cases? (2) Must the judge report this conduct to a disciplinary authority?
Opinion 14-132 May a judge 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?
Opinion 14-133/14-134 May a candidate for Supreme Court who is under consideration for a major political party’s nomination 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?
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 May a part-time judge accept employment as a staff attorney with Legal Aid in the same county where the judge presides?
Opinion 14-137 May a judge delegate to a court clerk the function of researching whether a litigant's address is located within a particular geographic boundary?
Opinion 14-138 May a judicial association that is hosting an event to celebrate the life and work of a now deceased judge permit a not-for-profit civil rights law firm which formerly employed the honoree to co-sponsor or underwrite the event?
Opinion 14-139 May a judge 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?
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 May a judge who is currently a defendant in a criminal case involving domestic violence charges preside over other domestic violence cases?
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 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, is the judge required to disclose the contradiction to the judge and lawyers in the other criminal case? Is the judge required to disqualify him/herself from all cases involving the individual at issue?
(Inquiry 14-145 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 14-146 May a candidate for judicial office permit his/her campaign committee to solicit or accept items for donation to a local charity?
Opinion 14-147 May a judge preside over cases involving an attorney who is a law firm colleague of the judge's uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, great-grandparent, or great-grandchild?
Opinion 14-148 May 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 roll over funds from one campaign to the next?
Opinion 14-149 May a judge allow his/her real property to be used for a festive seasonal ceremony?
Opinion 14-150 May a judge who reported an attorney to a grievance committee sign a proposed order the attorney submitted in an unrelated matter?
Opinion 14-151 May a judge 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 May a judge 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 May a judge permit a bar association to place collection bins for a charitable clothing drive within the courtroom?
Opinion 14-154 May a judge comply with a district attorney’s request for a list of "all pending offenses, regardless of the level, including traffic infractions"?
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 May 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, 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 May a judge use his/her official court mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address to conduct bar association business?
(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 Must a judicial candidate investigate the accuracy of a political organization's statement of costs incurred on the candidate's behalf? What should the candidate do if the statement is plainly unreliable and clearly inaccurate on its face?
Opinion 14-168 May a judge preside in two family court matters involving the same parties?
Opinion 14-169 May a judge 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?
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 May a criminal court judge preside when the court clerk’s second-degree relative appears as an assistant public defender?
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 May a village justice 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?
Opinion 14-175 May town or village justices, either individually or as magistrates' association members, 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 May a full-time judge accept part-time employment as treasurer of the board of directors of a special district library financed by the local municipality?
Opinion 14-178 When may prospective candidates for a judicial office engage in campaign activities once the sitting judge is elected to higher judicial office?
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 May a judge who regularly refers litigants to a residential substance abuse treatment facility write a letter supporting the facility's application to become a participating service provider for insurance purposes?
Opinion 14-181 May a judge 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 May a judge permit a newly elected state official to use a ceremonial courtroom for the state official's swearing-in ceremony?
Opinion 14-183 May a judge fluent in a foreign language serve as an uncompensated interpreter for a friend during a business meeting?
(Inquiry 14-184 was withdrawn.)
(Inquiry 14-185 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 14-186 May a judge whose second-degree relative is the municipality’s deputy dog control officer preside in dog ticket cases?
Opinion 14-187 Must a Surrogate who entered into a contract to purchase real property in good faith, but thereafter learned the property was part of a decedent's estate, disqualify him/herself from the estate proceeding and/or repudiate the contract?
Opinion 14-188 May a part-time judge who is represented by a union in his/her full-time extra-judicial employment preside in a small claims proceeding involving another local of the same union?
Opinion 14-189 May a judge who has issued a written decision indicating the his/her impartiality has been compromised in a new case involving a particular litigant, continue to preside in other cases involving the litigant?
(Inquiry 14-190 was withdrawn.)
(Inquiry 14-191 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 14-192 May a supervising judge who handles a trial assignment part, but is disqualified from personally presiding in cases where certain attorneys appear, assign those cases to another judge for disposition?
Opinion 14-193 May a quasi-judicial official who is being ordained as a local religious leader 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 May a part-time judge City Court Judge continue to practice law while serving temporarily as a full-time City Court Judge?
Opinion 14-196 May a judge who presides in medical malpractice cases accept a private, "in-house" speaking engagement for the board of trustees of a medical facility that regularly appears before the judge?
Numerical Listing of 2015 Opinions
Opinion 15-01 May a non-judge who is seeking election or appointment to judicial office remain employed as a police officer until he/she takes and files his/her oath of office as a judge?
Opinion 15-02 May a judge preside 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 May a judge chair a committee which informs members of a religious congregation of their membership fees?
Opinion 15-04 Is 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, 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 Must a judge disclose that his/her spouse is the administrative assistant to a councilperson, and in that capacity schedules appointments for the councilperson's constituents with a pro bono attorney, when a litigant who was assisted by the councilperson's pro bono attorney appears before the judge?
Opinion 15-06 May a town or village justice whose first-degree relative is a social worker in the local probation department's domestic violence division preside in cases involving the probation department and/or allegations of domestic violence?
Opinion 15-07 May a town judge voluntarily undertake to clear snow from the driveway of an abandoned property near his/her home as a public service?
Opinion 15-08 Where a judge is (or recently has been) a party in a contested matrimonial action, and his/her spouse (or ex-spouse) is a private attorney, what are the judge's obligations (1) when the spouse's law firm colleagues appear before the judge on other matters; (2) when the judge's attorney or the spouse's attorney appears; and (3) when an expert who evaluated a marital asset appears?
Opinion 15-09 May a part-time City Court judge concurrently serve in the non-supervisory position of full-time deputy county attorney?
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 May a judge accept free tickets and parking vouchers for a game of his/her choice from a local sports team that has not recently appeared before the judge and is not likely to do so?
(Inquiry 15-13 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-14 What steps must an appellate judge take once the judge learns that his/her law clerk is seeking post-clerkship employment?
Opinion 15-15 May a full-time judge serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit local development corporation?
Opinion 15-16 May a village justice 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 May a judge preside in cases involving protesters, 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?
Opinion 15-19 What are the obligations of a full-time judge who learns that his/her former law firm is still using the judge's name in its signage, letterhead, or other materials?
Opinion 15-20 May a town justice accept concurrent employment as a County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator?
Opinion 15-21 What are a judge's obligations when he/she learns that the county executive proposes to state truthfully, 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 May a judge who teaches at a law school, but has no role in a pro bono clinical program organized as a separate legal entity from the law school, appoint the clinic and its qualified participants to fiduciary positions, and award fees as permitted by applicable rules and law?
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?
Opinion 15-25 May a Family Court judge 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 May a judge attend (1) an annual fund-raising event for a not-for profit organization that provides services and support to victims of domestic abuse and child abuse and/or (2) 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?
(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 May a judge 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 May a judge who is a resident shareholder and proprietary lessee in a cooperative housing corporation preside over tax certiorari cases brought by the law firm that represents the judge's own building or housing corporation, on behalf of other clients?
Opinion 15-33 (1) What are a judge's obligations when the judge's spouse's former law firm appears before the judge, on matters in which the judge's spouse had no involvement, while the law firm maintains a fee interest in eight other cases handled by the judge's spouse? (2) What are a judge's obligations 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 May a judge approve a plea agreement which requires a defendant to participate in a district attorney's traffic ticket diversion program, when the program involves a non-refundable application fee?
Opinion 15-35/15-75 (1) May a judge whose first-degree relative was killed by a driver who was charged with driving under the influence preside over cases involving persons charged with driving under the influence? (2) May a judge who was previously a victim of domestic violence preside over cases involving domestic violence allegations?
(Inquiry 15-36 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-37 May 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 preside in matters in which attorneys from these offices appear?
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 May a judge preside in criminal matters involving domestic violence charges, if the judge 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?
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 May a judge and his/her family share their experience with a not-for-profit religious organization's summer camp with other families who are considering sending their children to the camp, at the request of the organization?
Opinion 15-43 What are a judge's obligations when a case that comes before the judge is one that the judge's law clerk had been personally involved in during the law clerk's former employment in a government law office? What are the judge's obligations with respect to other cases that were pending in that government law office during the law clerk's former employment, where the law clerk was in a non-supervisory role and had no personal involvement in the case?
(Opinion 15-44 is part of Opinion 15-26/15-44, above.)
Opinion 15-45 May a judge preside in cases involving a government law office, once the judge's former close personal friend and law partner assumes a supervisory position in the office?
Opinion 15-46 Where a judge's real estate purchase contract recently terminated by its terms without a resulting sale, may the judge preside in search warrant applications in which the prospective seller appears?
Opinion 15-47 May a judge require, as a condition of joining a treatment court program, that the defendant must agree to participate in an exercise program? If so, may the judge thereafter attend or participate in the exercise program together with treatment court participants?
Opinion 15-48 May a magistrates' association publicly support a resolution urging a legislative change to assist local taxpayers in funding their local justice courts?
(Inquiry 15-49 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-50 May a judge, 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 Must a full-time judge disqualify him/herself in a case involving a client of the judge's former law firm, where the judge's former law firm still owes the judge undistributed capital but is not involved in the case before the judge, and the judge had minimal contact with this client while with the law firm?
Opinion 15-52 May a judge preside in a case where a clerical court employee, not the judge's personal appointee, had previously provided freelance transcription services to a private attorney?
Opinion 15-53 Is a judge disqualified from presiding in 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?
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 May a judge accept an invitation to attend and participate in an out-of-state conference on women and justice that is co-sponsored by a law school, a limited liability company, and a law firm? If so, may the judge accept the law school's offer to pay for the judge's accommodations?
Opinion 15-58 May a judge whose court attorney is elected District Attorney preside in cases involving the District Attorney's office?
Opinion 15-59 Is a part-time judge who also works for a financial institution disqualified from all matters involving his/her non-judicial employer's landlord?
Opinion 15-60 Once a judge has taken appropriate and effective remedial steps to mitigate his/her alma mater's use of the judge's name on invitations to the school's fund-raiser, may the judge attend the event as an ordinary attendee?
Opinion 15-61 May a judge appear on a panel program to discuss a decision recently issued by the judge, when the time to appeal has not expired and an attorney who argued the case before the judge would be a fellow panelist?
Opinion 15-62 What are a judge's obligations when the judge's spouse, who is a principal in a real estate LLC, wishes to rent a storefront to a partisan political organization?
Opinion 15-63 May a judge who was "of counsel" to a law firm five years ago, and its tenant a decade ago, appoint a partner of that firm to a Part 36 fiduciary appointment?
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 What are a judge's obligations on learning that a letter he/she wrote decades ago in his/her former capacity as a non-judicial official is being anonymously circulated for partisan political purposes?
(Inquiry 15-66 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-67 May a judge who is a former prosecutor preside in a case involving a formerly incarcerated individual's claim of actual innocence, under the totality of the circumstances presented?
Opinion 15-68 May a judicial hearing officer 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 What are the disqualification obligations of a court attorney referee who did not personally report an attorney's misconduct to the grievance committee but instead advised the referring judge of his/her concerns so that the referring judge could make the report?
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 May a judicial candidate 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 May a full-time judge attend a dispute mediation service's volunteer recognition dinner?
(Inquiry 15-73 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-74 May a judge who has personal knowledge of a convicted defendant awaiting sentencing in federal court, in response to a subpoena, submit an affidavit in letter form to the sentencing judge requesting leniency for the defendant?
(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 May a judge make a financial contribution to Planned Parenthood?
(Inquiry 15-78 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-79 May a judge participate in a non-fund-raising National Day of Prayer event, lead a prayer, and be identified as a judge?
Opinion 15-80 May 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?
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 Does a previously granted remittal of disqualification remain effective if a party afterward discharges his/her attorney and proceeds pro se?
Opinion 15-83 May a judicial candidate 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 May a judge sua sponte review a defendant's driving history before accepting or rejecting a proposed plea agreement? If so, must the judge disclose the contents of the driving history to the parties and counsel?
Opinion 15-86 May a part-time lawyer judge preside in cases involving a lawyer who 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 What are a judge's obligations on learning that his/her name was listed on the invitation to a not-for-profit organization's fund-raiser, where the judge's name was listed with all other directors on the back of the invitation, but the organization's regular letterhead does not include the names of its directors?
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) May a judge serve as an officer of his/her religious institution, preach sermons, make administrative announcements, and allow his/her sermons to be broadcast via live streaming on the internet?
Opinion 15-92(B) May a judge write and forward a consular letter of invitation inviting family members to visit the judge in the United States, where this letter will set forth facts concerning the judge's income and its source in order to demonstrate that the judge is a responsible person who is able to meet the material and accommodation needs of the persons invited? If so, may the judge use judicial stationery for such a letter?
Opinion 15-93 May a judge serve as a panelist in a local college's program on perceptions and realities of the criminal justice system?
Opinion 15-94 What are the obligations of 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?
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 May a judge receive, 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? If so, what are the judge's obligations when adverse counsel from those cases appear before the judge on unrelated matters?
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 May a magistrates association, of which the judge is a member, tour a state police headquarters and watch the "training/process of a DWI arrest"?
Opinion 15-100 May a judicial association publicly respond to a newspaper article which sets forth a local attorney's criticisms of another judge? What are the advantages and disadvantages, from a judicial ethics perspective, of various possible types of responses to public criticism?
Opinion 15-101 May a judge who presides in a treatment-oriented problem solving court serve as a job reference for a defendant/participant who recently appeared before the judge, where the judge would merely provide objective observations based on reliable personal knowledge about the individual, drawn from many months of regular court appearances, reports and discussions?
Opinion 15-102 May a judge compete in the World Series of Poker?
Opinion 15-103 May a judge write a review of the professional services provided by his/her divorce lawyer, on an online ratings service that displays individual reviews directly to the public?
Opinion 15-104 May a judge who volunteers for a not-for-profit educational organization permit the entity to use his/her name and honorific when listing the judge as a volunteer in the entity's internal documents?
(Inquiry 15-105 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-106 Must a judge disclose that he/she engaged in a brief and non-substantive conversation with an attorney at a bar association function, while the attorney had a case pending before the judge?
Opinion 15-107/15-110 Is disclosure or disqualification required in a criminal case if a co-judge's spouse has served, or may serve, as a social worker for the defendant on referral by the probation department?
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 Must a judge disclose that he/she responded to a confidential request from a judicial appointments committee for comments on the character, ability, integrity, and temperament of an attorney, when the attorney thereafter appears before the judge? Is disqualification required?
Opinion 15-112/15-146 May a judicial candidate (1) pay individuals for time spent circulating petitions and gathering signatures in order to put the candidate's name on the ballot or (2) pay a 50% bonus to his/her campaign manager if the candidate is elected?
Opinion 15-113 May a judge be the introductory speaker at a Criminal Justice Services Division program focused on discouraging gun violence among probationers and parolees who have no pending charges, where the event will take place at a courthouse, and participants include prosecutors, law enforcement, the Legal Aid Society, social service providers, and community leaders?
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 May a town justice permit the town court clerk to meet with the court clerk's former employer to 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 Where a judge did not personally file a disciplinary complaint against an attorney, but instead encouraged another attorney to file the report and stated that the judge would personally follow through as necessary to ensure a disciplinary complaint was ultimately filed, may the judge preside when the reported attorney appears?
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 knows only that 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, what (if any) disciplinary obligations does the county court judge have?
Opinion 15-120 May a judge join in an advertising campaign intended to lobby political support and funding for union contract renewals for the judge's alma mater?
Opinion 15-121 May a judicial candidate permit his/her campaign committee to establish Facebook connections with the campaign committees of other candidates on the same slate?
Opinion 15-122 May a judge accept the gift of a food platter from a former judge who has resumed the practice of law and is now practicing in the judge's court?
Opinion 15-123 May a part-time judge become a member of a governmental advisory committee on services for senior citizens?
Opinion 15-124 What are a judge's obligations when he/she concludes that another judge has attempted to use the prestige of judicial office to influence the outcome of a family member's criminal case?
Opinion 15-125 May a judge speak at an academic conference on the topic of international, federal, and state approaches to human rights issues?
Opinion 15-126 (1) May a full-time judge request and accept fees for work he/she performed before assuming the bench? (2) May a judge preside in matters where his/her former law partner appears as counsel? (3) May a judge appoint his/her former partners to fiduciary positions? (4) May a judge who previously served as counsel to the public administrator preside over cases in which the public administrator appears?
Opinion 15-127 May judges delegate to their court clerks the authority to impose a pre-determined fine for traffic infractions, by means of a standing court order with a fixed schedule of fines?
Opinion 15-128 May a new full-time judge, whose former law partner is temporarily unavailable for medical reasons, continue to 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? May the judge use law firm letterhead after assuming judicial office to explain the circumstances to judges presiding over his/her former partner's cases and to request adjournments as needed?
Opinion 15-129 May a part-time judge serve on a bar association's attorney grievance committee?
(Inquiry 15-130 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-131 May a judge who is a party litigant make a legal argument that relies on the judge's judicial status?
Opinion 15-132 May a judge hire his/her current law clerk's spouse as the judge's secretary?
Opinion 15-133 May a judge attend a foreign consulate's reception for its ambassador? May a judge speak at the consulate about the judge's personal experiences in becoming a jurist?
Opinion 15-134 May a full-time principal law clerk who is a part-time SCAR hearing officer (1) run for or serve as a delegate to a political party's judicial nominating convention, (2) apply for and become a notary public, and/or (3) circulate nominating petitions?
Opinion 15-135 What are the obligations of a judge who has received a secondhand report of a casually overheard and possibly privileged conversation relating to a case before the judge?
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 How should a judge analyze his/her disciplinary obligations based on second- or third-hand reports of allegedly improper conduct by an attorney or another judge?
Opinion 15-139/15-140 May a judge serve as a reference for someone who recently appeared before the judge as a defendant/participant in a treatment-oriented problem-solving 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 May a part-time town judge, who is also executor of an estate that owns real property within the town, retain counsel and petition the town for approval of the beneficiaries' requested subdivision of the property? If so, may the judge thereafter preside when assistant town attorneys appear before the court?
(Inquiry 15-143 was withdrawn.)
(Opinion 15-144 is part of Opinion 15-138/15-144/15-166, above.)
Opinion 15-145 May a judicial candidate who is a notary public (1) carry or pass petitions for other candidates or request petition signatures for other candidates or (2) attest 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 What is a judge's obligation on learning that he/she should have recused him/herself from a particular case, when the judge learns of this ethical mistake only after he/she had already issued his/her final decision or judgment?
Opinion 15-148 May a judge who formerly represented a particular category of litigants in the specialized court where he/she now sits remain on the private e-mail list for a former colleague's summaries, commentary, and compilations of recent cases?
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?
Opinion 15-150 Where a judge's first-degree relative is a non-supervisory staff attorney for an insurance company, who will not work on any cases in the New York State courts, what are the judge's obligations when that company appears before him/her as a party or as insurance carrier for a party?
Opinion 15-151 May a village justice continue as a client of a salesperson whose spouse is the village prosecutor?
Opinion 15-152 May a judge accept a plea conditioned on a defendant writing an essay about traffic safety?
Opinion 15-153 Must a judge report to the probation department that an individual appearing before the judge has violated his/her probation?
Opinion 15-154 May a judge serve as a 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 May a judge preside in a matter where the judge and his/her spouse own a de minimis interest in a large corporation that is a party in the matter?
(Inquiry 15-156 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-157 Must a court attorney referee take any action on learning that an attorney briefly spoke to a witness about subpoenaed materials during a recess?
Opinion 15-158 May a non-judge who is currently employed as a peace officer in a community college resign his/her peace officer status and accept a new role as a campus security officer for the same institution, after becoming a part-time judge in a nearby municipality?
Opinion 15-159 May a town justice 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?
(Inquiry 15-160 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-161 What are the obligations of a judge whose realtor spouse has been offered an appointment to serve 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 What are the obligations of a judge who learns that an attorney appearing before him/her made a charitable donation to honor the judge's deceased relative?
Opinion 15-164 May a judge whose first-degree relative is a part-time attorney for the county department of social services preside in criminal cases alleging welfare fraud where the agency is the victim or complainant?
Opinion 15-165 May a judge 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 Where a judge is receiving ongoing restitution installment payments from an individual, payable through a court-ordered intermediary organization, may the judge preside in unrelated cases where that entity's attorneys appear? Is disclosure 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 May a full-time judge serve as an officer for a not-for-profit fraternal organization, serve as a non-legal advisor to the organization on matters of parliamentary procedure, and chair the organization's scholarship committee? May a judge sell raffle tickets benefiting the organization to family members? To friends?
Opinion 15-172 Where a judge's law clerk is the former District Attorney, what are the judge's obligations when the District Attorney's office appears?
Opinion 15-173 May a judge write a letter supporting a court officer's request to be assigned to the judge's courthouse?
(Inquiry 15-174 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-175 May a town or village justice permit the court's sole court clerk to maintain concurrent clerical employment at a substance abuse facility?
Opinion 15-176 May a judge 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 before the incumbent's term ends?
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 In a court where judges repeatedly receive attempted ex parte communications from elected officials on behalf of their constituents, what steps should the judges take?
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 May a judge who wrote and published a law-related book go on a book tour, where the judge will conduct book signings and speak at bookstores, law schools, and bar associations in New York and elsewhere, and permit copies of the book to be available for purchase at such events? May the judge permit a commercial television producer to make a television series based on the judge's book for a commercial television station? If so, may the judge serve as a host for the television 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 What are a court attorney-referee's obligations when an attorney appearing before him/her is the sibling of the referee's close personal friend?
Opinion 15-186 Where a judge offered selected attorneys the opportunity to purchase tickets to a local sporting event, and one attorney took advantage of the offer, what are the judge's obligations when the attorney appears before him/her?
Opinion 15-187 May a judges' association hold its annual conference at a hotel resort and casino owned by a sovereign Native American nation?
Opinion 15-188 May a judge become involved in legislative redistricting under the facts presented?
Opinion 15-189 What are a judge's obligations on learning of substantial and troubling irregularities in his/her court arising from the conduct of a former town court clerk, as well as possibly improper behavior by a former town justice?
Opinion 15-190 May a judge serve on the board of directors for a not-for-profit agency with a broad educational mission that includes certain 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 May a judge write to the director of a federally funded medical facility to express appreciation for care provided to the judge's deceased parent? May the judge send copies of such a letter 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 May a Family Court judge who ordered a child protective investigation in a case preside over other contested proceedings involving the same family?
Opinion 15-196 (1) May a judicial candidate who is a law clerk film a campaign commercial depicting a simulated case conference, if his/her responsibilities include conferencing cases on behalf of a judge? If so, what limitations apply? (2) May a recently elected judge preside in cases involving an attorney who previously appeared in the judge's campaign commercial?
Opinion 15-197(A) May a town justice 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) "Digest: (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 May a judge attend a magistrates' association meeting held at a local correctional facility?
(Inquiry 15-199 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-200 May a full-time judge serve in the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps?
Opinion 15-201 May a full-time judge who presides in a drug treatment court serve on the advisory board of a not-for-profit community action organization which educates and assists addicts and their families?
Opinion 15-202 May a full-time judge teach at a continuing legal education program that (1) is advertised in a manner that clearly and improperly implies 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 May a full-time judge who presides in a treatment court serve on a legislator's advisory committee on drug abuse?
Opinion 15-204 May a judge preside in a case where the judge's secretary once provided freelance transcription services at an earlier stage while it was pending in another court?
Opinion 15-205 May a part-time judge serve as Corporation Counsel?
Opinion 15-206 Must a judge disclose or disqualify him/herself when the judge's child's election opponent appears before the judge as an attorney?
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 Where a judge is personally disqualified from certain cases, may he/she nonetheless permit his/her personally appointed principal law clerk to conference those cases, at the request of the presiding judge?
Opinion 15-209 May a part-time judge consult ex parte with court personnel who staff the City, Town and Village Courts Resource Center? Must there be notice and/or disclosure to the parties in the case?
Opinion 15-210 May a judge be a member of the Shooters Committee on Political Education?
Opinion 15-211 May a judge who formerly served as an assistant district attorney, and whose law clerk was a supervising ADA in the same office, preside in cases involving that office? What are the judge's obligations with respect to the law clerk?
Opinion 15-212 May a judge preside over cases involving lawyers who sought to contribute to the judge's spouse's recent political campaign?
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 May a newly appointed judge, who previously ran for a non-judicial office, dispose of the remaining unexpended non-judicial campaign funds by donating them to charity?
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 May a town or village justice permit a part-time court clerk to accept part-time clerical employment with a law firm which plans to cease appearing in the judge's court?
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 Is a judge 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, may the judge permit the organization to include his/her name along with other board members on the organization's fund-raising invitations? Must the listing be absolutely identical or literally reproduce the regular letterhead?
Opinion 15-220 If applicable law authorizes certain judges to delegate the authority to accept guilty pleas and set fines in certain matters, is it ethically permissible for such 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) May a judge who is co-trustee of a relative's charitable trust authorize the trust to make charitable donations to not-for-profit entities that regularly appear before the judge, such as legal services providers and agencies to which the judge may make referrals? Is disclosure or disqualification required when a recipient of the trust's charitable donations appears before the judge? (2) May a judge as co-trustee of a charitable trust participate in authorizing donations to not-for-profit organizations that seek to influence social policy?3
Opinion 15-224 May a town justice continue to preside in matters involving the local village police department, after the village police chief is elected to the town board?
(Inquiry 15-225 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 15-226 May a judge order payment to a former guardian ad litem for services which pre-date the attorney's employment with the Unified Court System? Does it matter if the former guardian ad litem now serves as principal law clerk to another judge (i.e., one who is not presiding in the case)?
Opinion 15-227 May a judge whose spouse is actively involved in the not-for-profit American Israel Public Affairs Committee attend a non-political dinner at which the judge's spouse and other financial supporters will be recognized?
Opinion 15-228 May a judge who presides over a re-adoption proceeding involving an attorney thereafter preside in matters involving the attorney and/or his/her law firm? Is disclosure required?
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 What standards should a judge consider in determining whether he/she must take action concerning apparent misconduct by an attorney who is involved in a proceeding before the judge? May the judge wait until the proceeding ends before taking such action?
Opinion 15-232 May a judge, 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?
Opinion 15-233 What are a judge's obligations with respect to matters in which the court clerk was previously involved as a non-supervisory staff attorney in his/her prior employment? Does it matter whether the case will end by consent, default, or dismissal? How long does this obligation last?
Numerical Listing of 2016 Opinions
Opinion 16-01 May a judge who is a member of a law school reunion committee be a signatory or listed as a committee member on a letter that encourages and solicits alumni donations? Or on a letter inviting alumni to attend an upcoming law school reunion event which is not a fund-raiser?
Opinion 16-02 May a judge partner with, or commit the court to partner with, entities applying for a grant to create a domestic violence advocacy program? May the judge or the court participate in the ongoing administration of the resulting advocacy program?
Opinion 16-03 Where a judge's spouse is a statewide information security officer for the state police and internally advises that agency on technology issues, must the judge disclose the relationship or disqualify him/herself in cases involving the state police?
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 May a full-time judge 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?
Opinion 16-06 May a full-time judge who wrote a children’s book: participate in book signings; spread the news that the book has been published; give away complimentary copies of the book; tell people, on request, where the book may be purchased; permit the publisher to mention the judge’s judicial status; appear in judicial robes on the book’s back cover; and/or read the book at an elementary school? Do any special restrictions apply because the work is a children’s book rather than a law-related book?
Opinion 16-07 May a judicial candidate 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 May a full-time City Court judge accept a temporary assignment as a Family Court judge?
Opinion 16-09 May a judge send a 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 May a part-time judge place classified ads indicating his/her availability to officiate marriages?
Opinion 16-11 May a judge who is a defendant in a bank’s foreclosure action preside over an unrelated action in which a party has subpoenaed records from the bank, where the bank is a mere 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 May a newly appointed part-time judge 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 May a judge who presided over two related civil actions preside over the losing party’s subsequent malpractice action against its former counsel?
Opinion 16-17 (1) May a judge acting as a leader within a religious organization (a) promote a weekend retreat and/or (b) solicit items for clothing drives, food drives and the like? (2) May a judge be a featured speaker at a religious institution's anniversary 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 May an appellate judge, whose former law clerk is now a support magistrate, 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? Is disclosure required?
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 May a town justice preside over a bench trial, where a town board member who votes on the judge's salary is a necessary witness whose credibility the judge must evaluate?
Opinion 16-22 (1) May a judge read passages from scripture at a religious service? (2) May a judge participate in a prison ministry program where inmates sentenced by the judge may be present in the program's group sessions?
Opinion 16-23 Where a judge has declined to appoint an expert whose competence the judge questions, and the expert has thereafter tried to pressure the judge into appointing him/her, may the judge preside in cases involving the expert?
Opinion 16-24 What are the obligations of a judge when an attorney appearing before the judge is currently holding money in escrow for the judge?
Opinion 16-25 May a judge notify a police officer’s commander of the officer’s non-compliance with a legal mandate?
Opinion 16-26 Must a Court of Claims judge disclose or disqualify him/herself from cases involving the Attorney General’s office, based solely on media efforts to link the judge and his/her spouse with a person whom the Attorney General is investigating?
Opinion 16-27 May a judicial hearing officer write a letter supporting an inmate's efforts to gain parole and/or clemency?
Opinion 16-28 May a Family Court judge preside in matters involving an agency that has hired the judge's first-degree relative for a part-time entry-level job, given that the agency is one where the county department of social services may place a child?
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 May a judge preside in matters involving assistant public defenders subject to the supervision of a Public Defender who, in his/her former capacity as a private attorney, had preliminarily and briefly represented the judge in a disciplinary proceeding one year ago?
Opinion 16-31 What are a judge’s obligations on learning that a lawyer or law firm appearing before him/her is opposing counsel to the judge’s attorney spouse in an unrelated action in another court? May the judge continue to preside? Is disclosure required?
Opinion 16-32 May a part-time judge who presides over arraignments and other criminal cases serve as part-time in-house counsel for the local sheriff's office?
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 May a full-time judge participate as one of several panelists and mentors at a commercial entity's free luncheon for young people of a particular minority group, when commercial entity has assured the judge in writing that the event is entirely philanthropic, the judge's participation will not be used for promotional purposes, and 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) May an appellate judge who was formerly an equity partner in a large law firm preside in a case involving a party that is a current or former client of the law firm, when represented by a different law firm? (2) How is the disqualification period calculated if there are ongoing financial connections or obligations between the judge and the firm? (3) Must a judge refer to his/her former law firm's conflict databases to determine whether a client relationship exists?
Opinion 16-37 May a full-time judge enter into an option/purchase agreement with a film producer, for a screenplay the judge wrote?
Opinion 16-38 May a judge presiding in a large urban criminal court 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?
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 May a judge sign a final decree of judicial settlement pursuant to SCPA § 2602(1)(b), following disqualification of the judge who issued the underlying decision?
Opinion 16-43 May a criminal court judge who previously presided over an ex parte search warrant application later arraign (1) a confidential informant who testified in support of the warrant and/or (2) the target of the search warrant? Is disclosure or disqualification required?
Opinion 16-44 Where a judge's non-lawyer spouse works for a global insurance company in a mid-level position, with no litigation responsibilities, what are the judge's obligations when that insurance company appears before him/her?
(Inquiry 16-45 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 16-46 Where a judge has serious concerns about inconsistencies at the very core of another judge's testimony on a motion challenging an arrest warrant issued under that other judge's name, how should he/she determine whether reporting is mandatory?
Opinion 16-47 May a non-judge who is seeking election to judicial office 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?
(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 May a judge make voter registration forms available at court facilities?
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 May a judge preside in a matter involving a defendant who (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? Is disclosure required?
Opinion 16-55 May a town judge sign a statement (1) certifying his/her "responsibility to comply with the guidelines stated in" the town ethics code and (2) acknowledging "that any willful violation of these guidelines may be cause for suspension or dismissal from Town employment or removal from Town office"?
Opinion 16-56 May a judge decline to solemnize all marriages? If so, may court staff refer the couple to another wedding officiant?
Opinion 16-57 What are a judge's obligations when his/her second-degree relative, who formerly held a supervisory position in a government law office, becomes the subject of employment discrimination charges filed by a former subordinate?
Opinion 16-58 May a part-time judge 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 May a judge 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?
(Inquiry 16-61 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 16-62 May a judge who is a respondent in a CPLR Article 78 proceeding seeking to annul/vacate the judge's order in a pending criminal case comment on the criminal case in his/her answer or appearance in the proceeding?
Opinion 16-63 (1) When does a non-judge who has been appointed to judicial office become subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct? (2) May a part-time judge publicly display on his/her office building a non-partisan banner stating “Your vote counts in ___ County”? (3) May a part-time attorney judge's attorney tenant appear before other co-judges of the judge's court, where the judge and the tenant (a) share a fax machine and fax number which is included in their respective stationery, (b) occasionally cover court appearances for each other, and/or (c) permit the judge’s receptionist to answer phone calls for the tenant?
Opinion 16-64 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who is the chair of a political committee on which the judge’s court attorney serves? Must he/she insulate the court attorney from such matters?
Opinion 16-65 May a judge who has the duty of appointing special prosecutors appoint an attorney who is related to his/her co-judge?
Opinion 16-66 Where an attorney's representation of the judge's second-degree relative ended two years ago, but the judge knows the attorney has an outstanding judgment for unpaid legal fees, what are the judge's obligations in matters where that attorney appears?
Opinion 16-67 Where a judge's first-degree relative heads the local probation department, what are the judge's obligations in matters where the department's employees appear?
Opinion 16-68 May a judge 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 Where a judge is currently disqualified from proceedings involving a particular government office or agency, but has a statutory obligation to administer/oversee that office as a judge, may the judge nonetheless exercise these ongoing administrative or oversight responsibilities?
(Inquiry 16-71 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 16-72 Where a part-time justice serves as counsel to an association of local government officials and employees, may he/she advise individual members concerning local justice court operational issues?
Opinion 16-73 May a judge and his/her family attend a defensive driving program hosted by the police department exclusively for police personnel and their families and otherwise closed to the public? Does it make a difference if they would pay their own way?
Opinion 16-74 Where a judge's first-degree relative works for a local hospital, what are the judge's obligations when (1) a party calls witnesses, subpoenas records, or presents exhibits from the hospital or (2) a case involves foster children who have been, or will be, treated in another unit of that hospital?
Opinion 16-75 May two judicial candidates who are (through their respective campaign committees) hosting a joint fund-raiser permit their campaign committees to accommodate an attendee who prefers to support only one candidate?
Opinion 16-76 May a judge 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? If so, what limitations apply?
Opinion 16-77 Where an administrative judge has commenced a lawsuit against certain entities and attorneys for alleged misconduct in the judge's court, what are the obligations of judges in that jurisdiction with respect to other cases in which those entities or attorneys appear?
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 May a non-judge candidate for judicial office personally distribute campaign literature that exhorts supporters "[t]o volunteer and/or donate to" the candidate?
Opinion 16-80 May a full-time judge hold ownership interests in a limited liability company that owns income-producing property, along with the judge's spouse? Does it matter whether the judge holds such interests in an individual capacity or as a trustee of a beneficial trust for a family member?
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 May a part-time judge portray a judge in a commercial film?
Opinion 16-84 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who formerly represented the judge’s recent election opponent in an election law case? Does it matter whether the judge previously exercised his/her discretion in favor of recusal?
Opinion 16-85 May a judge engage in prohibited political activities, provided he/she takes care to do so anonymously?
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 May a town justice serve as the workplace ombudsman for aggrieved town employees?
Opinion 16-88 May a full-time quasi-judicial official preside in matters involving assistant county attorneys, or other attorneys from county-level government law offices, after he/she sues the local county government? Does it matter whether they would appear before the referee in their official or private capacities?
Opinion 16-89 Where a municipality has previously declined to add court officers' names to a memorial honoring first responders who died during rescue efforts following a terrorist attack, may a judge nonetheless write a letter urging the municipality 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?
Opinion 16-91 May a town justice 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? After doing so, what steps must the judge take if the judge wishes to participate in activities organized by such entities?
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 May a judge place flyers for a not-for-profit bar association’s upcoming educational programs on a table in the back of his/her courtroom?
Opinion 16-94 (1) May a part-time judge run for and serve as delegate to a state constitutional convention? (2) May a judge take a public position on whether a constitutional convention should be convened in an upcoming referendum? (3) May a judge lecture on historical constitutional conventions and procedures? (4) When will the Committee answer questions concerning permissible campaign activities for a judge who wishes to become a constitutional delegate?
Opinion 16-95/16-107 May a judge write a letter on behalf of a not-for-profit organization’s grant application to improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice, where the application (if granted) will specifically assist crime victims?
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 Where a judge's campaign committee has made one attempt to return the unexpended campaign funds from a prior election campaign pro rata to contributors, but some checks still have not been cashed or negotiated and some mailings were returned to the campaign committee as undeliverable, must the judge direct his/her campaign committee to investigate the correct addresses of the contributors whose checks were returned as undeliverable and re-send those mailings? If not, what should be done with the remaining funds?
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) Where a chief clerk was formerly associated with a private law firm, what are the judge's obligations when the chief clerk's former employer appears in the court? (2) Is there any obligation with respect to matters involving wills admitted for probate that were previously prepared, witnessed or notarized by the chief clerk while at the firm? (3) What are the judge's obligations when the chief clerk's attorney spouse appears?
(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 May a village justice permit the court clerk to attend the mayor's regularly scheduled meetings with the village government's department heads?
Opinion 16-105 May a judge subject to article VI, section 20 of the state constitution sign a separate oath of office for a county legislature's law-related advisory board?
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 Digest: 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 May a full-time judge 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?
Opinion 16-115 May a judge permit his/her law clerk to teach a class on the Penal Law to law enforcement personnel at a local military facility?
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 May a JHO represent clients on real estate transactions and matters in Surrogate's Court in the same county where he/she serves as a JHO? When are such matters deemed "contested" under 22 NYCRR 122.10(c)? May the JHO's law firm colleagues assume the representation on contested matters once the JHO withdraws from the representation?
Opinion 16-120 May a judge who is conflicted from presiding in a criminal defendant's Outley hearing nonetheless resume presiding over the underlying case and sentence the defendant, once the Outley hearing is concluded?
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 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who previously represented the judge's third-degree relative (a niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, great-grandparent or great-grandchild), after the representation has completely terminated and all fees are paid? Is disclosure required?
Opinion 16-123 Does the disclosure required by Opinion 14-51 (for attorneys personally involved in prosecuting or defending the judge's second-degree relative) terminate on the judge's relative's death? If not, must the judge now also disclose that his/her relative died, and reveal the cause of death?
Opinion 16-124 May a judge mentor a high school student through a not-for-profit mentorship program?
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 May a judge serving on an official court-sponsored legislative advisory committee participate in committee discussions relating to 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 May a judge continue to preside in a criminal case after the defendant, defense witness(es) and/or other individuals connected with the defense have filed disciplinary complaints against the judge? When does disqualification become mandatory?
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, may the judge preside in matters involving that law firm? How does the analysis change when the spouse's employer switches law firms?
(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 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who has hosted a single fund-raiser for the judge's law clerk's election campaign?
Opinion 16-134 May a full-time court attorney-referee work part-time as a real estate agent?
Opinion 16-135 May a judge 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? Must the judge notify local prosecutors and/or defense counsel of his/her proposal so they can respond to it?
Opinion 16-136 May a sitting judge who will be retiring at the end of the year agree to be the guest of honor at a not-for-profit educational institution's fund-raising dinner to be held next year?
Opinion 16-137 May a part-time judge accept employment as a salaried conflict defender in the county where the judge presides? If so, may the judge appear as a conflict defender before other part-time judges in the same county who are permitted to practice law?
Opinion 16-138 May a judge who wishes to appoint a new law clerk circulate the job notice through a local bar association, specialized bar association committees, and the attorneys who serve on those committees? May the judge ask such attorneys to circulate the job notice within their law firms? Is disclosure or disqualification required?
(Inquiry 16-139 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 16-140 May a judge consider a defendant's written form application for assigned counsel ex parte and make a determination of financial eligibility on an ex parte basis, where the form focuses solely on the defendant's financial information and does not invite substantive communications? What factors distinguish Opinion 16-68 and Opinion 16-140?
Opinion 16-141 Where the Commission on Judicial Conduct has charged a judge with misconduct in a formal written complaint, signed and verified by the Commission’s administrator (see Judiciary Law § 44), based on an initial report or complaint filed by the county’s District Attorney, may the judge thereafter preside in criminal matters involving the District Attorney's office? The judge notes that an assistant district attorney usually appears on behalf of the office, and there may be no personal appearance by the DA or any ADA in matters such as mail pleas or negotiated resolutions of traffic matters. The judge further notes that the Commission on Judicial Conduct has not directed that a hearing be held.
Opinion 16-142 May a town or village justice permit the part-time court clerk to assume a second part-time position with the same municipality, working for the municipal prosecutor in a strictly clerical capacity?
Opinion 16-143 Digest: (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 May a judge whose law clerk becomes the District Attorney preside over criminal cases in 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 Where a judge has filed a disciplinary complaint against the county's District Attorney, may the judge thereafter preside in criminal matters involving the District Attorney's office? The judge notes that assistant district attorneys from that office did not participate in the purported misconduct.
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?
Opinion 16-150 May two judicial candidates in a contested election send a joint mailing to voters who request an absentee ballot?
Opinion 16-151 May sitting judges serve as mentors to attorneys who wish to seek judicial office, as part of an official court-sponsored program to help promote diversity in the judiciary? What limitations apply?
Opinion 16-152 May a judge 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) May a trial judge whose minor child is participating in a charitable fund-raiser personally participate in the child’s fund-raising efforts by asking family, close friends, neighbors, and judicial colleagues to make pledges on the child’s behalf? (2) If not, may the judge assist the child in making such solicitations by telephone or in person, by placing telephone calls or escorting the child to a neighbor’s home? (3) If permitted to accompany the child, may the judge supplement or clarify the child’s explanation, as needed, regarding the nature of the fund-raiser?
Opinion 16-154 May a judge disclose his/her habitability concerns to a local code enforcement officer? May the judge also issue a warrant for the code enforcement officer to enter the premises?
Opinion 16-155 What steps should a judge take on learning that his/her second-degree relative has, in his/her capacity as a member of a religious institution, commenced an informal counseling relationship with a defendant who is appearing before the judge in a long-running high-profile criminal matter?
Opinion 16-156 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
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 What are the ethical obligations of 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?
Opinion 16-160 What cases may a part-time judge preside over, once his/her first-degree relative becomes the police chief for the municipality where the judge presides?
Opinion 16-161 May a full-time judge serve on the admissions committee of a country club?
Opinion 16-162 What are the obligations of a County Court judge whose full-time court attorney is now a town justice within the same county?
Opinion 16-163/16-170 Where a full-time judge is both a former assistant public defender and a former private law firm partner, and his/her former law firm colleague supervises all attorneys in the Public Defender's office, what are his/her obligations in cases involving the Public Defender's office?
Opinion 16-164 Digest: 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 Is a judge disqualified from presiding in matters involving the District Attorney's office where (i) his/her law clerk is a former assistant district attorney and (ii) the law clerk's second-degree relative is currently an assistant district attorney?
Opinion 16-167 May a town justice simultaneously serve as a federal prosecutor?
Opinion 16-168 May a judge 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?
Opinion 16-175 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 May a part-time judge volunteer with (1) a departmental grievance committee's diversion program under 22 NYCRR 1240.11 and/or (2) a local bar association's lawyer assistance committee under Judiciary Law § 499?
Opinion 16-178 Digest: 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
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 Digest: (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.
Opinion 17-04 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
(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 Digest: (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 Digest: (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.
Opinion 17-15 May a Family Court judge 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 Digest: 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.
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 Digest: 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 May a judge whose window period has expired keep his/her campaign account open for the sole purpose of paying outstanding legal bills from his/her former campaign?
Opinion 17-24 Digest: 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.
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 Digest: 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 May a town judge permit his/her court clerks to certify that they will abide by the town ethics code?
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) May a judge participate in a March for Science? (2) May a judge (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; and/or (c) participate in a local political rally, march or demonstration sponsored by grassroots organizations?
Opinion 17-39 May a full-time judge serve on the board of a non-profit, non-partisan organization that advises governmental policymakers nationwide on criminal justice measures affecting public safety?
(Inquiry 17-40 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 17-41 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Is there a way for a part-time judge who wishes to run for non-judicial office to inform the local municipality in advance that he/she plans to resign from judicial office on a particular date, without triggering the “resign to run” rule?
Opinion 17-44 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 What are the obligations of a part-time lawyer judge who concludes that another judge, while presiding over a case, threatened to file a disciplinary complaint against the inquirer unless his/her client settled the case for a particular sum?
Opinion 17-49 Digest: 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.
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 What are the obligations of a judge presiding in a juvenile delinquency matter, who receives a social media message from the victim's first-degree relative containing substantive discussion of the case?
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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Where a county political party met to select its 2017 candidates on February 28, but (at the time the inquiry was decided) the party chair had publicly announced only that next year's party meeting would be held "in May 2018," without further details, what date should judicial candidates in that county use to calculate the start of their 2018 window period? Must different judicial candidates in that county count back from different dates, or may they all rely on the specific date stated in Opinion 17-60?
Opinion 17-61 Digest: 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 May a part-time judge accept employment as counsel to the county legislature?
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 Digest: 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 Digest: A judicial hearing officer may not serve on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
Opinion 17-67 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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?
Opinion 17-75 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 May a judge serve as a housing resource for a third-degree relative on parole?
Opinion 17-78 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 May a judicial association accept a 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 May a JHO 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.)
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 Digest: 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 May a quasi-judicial official, whose young child has significant developmental and physical limitations, seek financial help and services offered by not-for-profit organizations for the benefit of such children and their families?
Opinion 17-107 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 May a judge presiding over a civil matter involving allegations of sexual abuse committed by a non-party minor solicit pro bono representation for the non-party minor?
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 Digest: (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 17-118 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 Digest: (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.
(Inquiry 17-121 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 17-122 Digest: 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.
Opinion 17-123 Digest: 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 certain chapter of a not-for-profit charitable entity, where the tea party includes an advertised raffle/auction in an adjacent room?
Opinion 17-125 May a part-time village justice 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 Digest: 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 May a Surrogate appoint his/her former law firm associate as public administrator?
(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 May a judge participate in an interview with a not-for-profit entity which provides mediation services in a court where the judge formerly presided?
(Opinion 17-132 is part of Opinion 17-116/17-132, above.)
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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 May a village justice permit the village court clerk to complete a college internship for a district attorney’s office located in a different county?
Opinion 17-146 Digest: 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 What are a judge's disciplinary obligations on receiving a phone call from another judge concerning an unspecified case before him/her, where the inquiring judge ended the conversation without learning any information sufficient to identify the case?
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.)
Opinion 17-150 What are a judge's disqualification obligations based on his/her former public employment as an assistant public defender; his/her former private law practice; and his/her second-degree relative's current public sector employment as an assistant public defender?
Opinion 17-152 Digest: (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 Digest: 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.
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 May a judge speak about landlord/tenant law at a free educational forum organized by elected officials?
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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 17-162 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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.
(Opinion 17-168 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 17-169/17-170 What are a judge's disqualification obligations based on his/her former public employment as the Public Defender; and his/her prior service as attorney for the child in certain matters?
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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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.
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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
Numerical Listing of 2018 Opinions
Opinion 18-01 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
(Opinion 18-03 is part of Opinion 17-163/18-03/18-21, above.)
Opinion 18-04(A) Digest: (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) Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
Opinion 18-18 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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.
Opinion 18-24 Digest: 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.
Opinion 18-25 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: A full-time quasi-judicial official may not appear on a private law firm’s podcast.
Opinion 18-35 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: (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) Digest: 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) Digest: 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) Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
Opinion 18-50 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: A judge may not speak about gun laws at a politically sponsored gun policy forum.
Opinion 18-73 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
Opinion 18-75 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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?
Opinion 18-100 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
Opinion 18-104 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
Opinion 18-117 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 Digest: 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.
(Inquiry 18-125 was withdrawn.)
Opinion 18-126 Digest: (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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: A judge may accept a prize resulting from his/her purchase of a winning raffle ticket at a charity event.
Opinion 18-134 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: A part-time judge may represent a judge who presides in a different court before the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Opinion 18-138 Digest: (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 Digest: (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.
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 18-144 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: 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.
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 18-152 Digest: 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 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 18-158 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 Digest: 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 18-164 Digest: 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 Digest: (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 07-155/98-31 May a judge serve on a charter review commission to review and proposed amendments to a city or county charter? Does it matter whether the judge is a part-time or full-time judge?
Opinion 11-67 May a judge attend a local Police Benevolent Association annual awards dinner and tribute to fallen officers?
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?
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