NYS Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics
Judge’s Responsibility to Report
Background: In the course of a proceeding, an attorney admitted to a judge that he improperly notarized his client’s signature, purportedly as a matter of convenience. According to the inquiring judge, this was an isolated incident. The judge asks whether he is required to report the attorney’s conduct to the appropriate disciplinary authority.
Ruling: The committee concluded that when a judge receives information indicating a substantial likelihood that a lawyer’s conduct constitutes a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, but does not rise to a level that seriously calls into question the attorney’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer, the judge has the discretion to take some appropriate action other than reporting the conduct to a disciplinary authority.