By: Daily Record Staff//December 6, 2011
By: Daily Record Staff//December 6, 2011//
NYS Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics
Co-judges and Former Associates
Background: A self-represented plaintiff requested that a full-time judge recuse himself from a case because two attorneys in the law firm representing the defendant were the judge’s colleagues when the judge served as a town justice. The plaintiff had further stated that the two partners in the same firm, as well as a partner’s spouse, contributed to the inquiring judge’s election campaign and the inquiring judge had contributed to his former co-judge’s re-election campaign.
Question: Must the inquiring judge recuse himself?
Opinion: The committee found that if a judge believes that he can be impartial, the judge need not disqualify himself where an attorney appearing in the judge’s court formerly was the judge’s co-judge in a different court. The judge need not disqualify himself if an attorney appearing in the judge’s court was the town attorney at the same time the judge was town justice for the same town, so long as he believes he can remain impartial. And finally, the judge need not disqualify himself if the judge learns the identities of campaign donors from a plaintiff’s motion papers.