Previously Featured Opinions - A Selection

For ease of reference, this page highlights a few opinions and rule changes that were previously featured or highlighted on our web page since 2020.   

Recent Highlights and Reminders

  • Opinion 23-122 says a judge may attend generic cultural/holiday celebrations hosted by elected public officials, where such events are free and open to the public and are paid for by state/government funds rather than campaign funds (Oct 2023).

Modification of Prior Opinions

  • Conflicts
    • Opinion 22-183 amends a judge's obligations with respect to their former counsel; "after the two-year period, whether to disclose is solely within the judge’s discretion." (Dec 2022)
    • Opinion 22-138 modifies prior opinions to require disclosure for two years after a judge is a social guest at an attorney's wedding. (Oct 2022)
    • Opinion 21-120 says a judge's obligation to disqualify in matters involving their former campaign manager terminates two years after the campaign manager relationship has ended. (Sep 2021)
  • Remittal
    • Opinion 21-22(A): “we no longer prohibit remittal of disqualification merely because a party is unrepresented." (Mar 2021)
  • Mail Pleas
    • Opinion 23-18 provides new guidance on sending a form letter to a defendant motorist who has already entered a plea of "not guilty" by mail. (Feb 2023)
  • Pro Bono 
    • Opinion 22-56/22-67 modifies and distinguishes prior opinions to reflect that a judge may personally request pro bono assistance for an unrepresented defendant in appropriate circumstances, provided the judge avoids undue pressure or coercion in making the request. (Jun 2022)
  • Parent/Child Relationship
    • Opinion 23-82 carves out a narrow exception for a judge to attend and participate in their child’s parole hearing, provided they do so in the obvious role of a parent and without reference to their judicial status or otherwise invoking the prestige of judicial office. (Jun 2023)
  • Bar Association
    • Opinion 23-64 distinguishes earlier opinions to say a full-time judge may not participate in a local bar association’s phone bank event where members of the public call in with legal questions.(Jun 2023)
  • Town and Village Justice Courts
    • Opinion 24-38 A town justice in a two-judge court need not disqualify from cases involving tickets issued by his/her co-judge in the co-judge’s former capacity as a law enforcement officer.
  • Politics  
    • Opinion 23-43 says a judicial candidate may appear in joint campaign advertisements only with candidates who make up the slate of which the judicial candidate is a part. It also provides guidance on the meaning of "slate" in this context. (Mar 2023)
    • Opinion 23-227 modifies prior opinions to reflect that, where a majority of partners in a law firm are non-judges, the obligation of a judge who is a partner or associate in the law firm is to urge the partners in writing not to make political contributions in the law firm’s name out of the law firm’s profits. (Opinion 23-227 offers a path for such a firm to engage in political activity through a PAC that will completely exclude the judge.)

Rules or Statutes

  • The Court of Appeals has approved the deletion of the 22 NYCRR 100.4(H)(2) reporting requirement.  See AO-347 for details. 
    • As explained in Opinion 23-39: "Section 100.4(D)(5)(h) previously required that gifts accepted under the catch-all exception must be reported to the court clerk if their value exceeded $150.... Although this proviso has been deleted, [full-time judges] should comply with any Part 40 reporting requirements, if applicable (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[I])."
    • Questions about financial disclosures under Part 40 should be directed to the UCS Ethics Commission.
  • Judiciary Law § 9, enacted in December 2020, requires disclosure of a judge's "reason for recusal" unless an exception applies.
    • Where the basis for recusal is that the judge has reported an attorney to the grievance committee:
      • As a matter of judicial ethics, remittal is not available "until and unless the attorney waives confidentiality, or the grievance committee issues a public disciplinary decision" (Opinion 23-24), but
      • What the judge must state on the record or in writing pursuant to Judiciary Law  § 9, when confidentiality has not been waived, is a legal question (id. fn 2).

Additional Opinions of Interest

  • Opinion 23-69 says a judicial candidate may publicly identify themselves as “pro choice” or “pro life” during their window period, provided they also make clear that they will decide all cases fairly and impartially and in accordance with governing law. (Jun 2023)
  • Opinion 23-06 says a judge may be a life member of the National Rifle Association, although the judge must still avoid impermissible political activity and must not assume a leadership role in the organization. (Mar 2023)
  • Opinion 23-139 Where a full-time judge’s former law firm advises the judge that a former client recently posted an online review of the judge’s legal services, the judge must request that the law firm remove the judge’s name from such review but need not take any further action (Dec 2023).
  • Opinion 23-137 reconfirms that a judge need not report their own ethics violation to the Commission on Judicial Conduct (Dec 2023).

March 2024 (LLS)