The Committee on Judicial Ethics responds to written inquiries from New York state's approximately 3,400 judges, who serve both full- and part-time. The committee's opinions interpret the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct (22NYCRR, Part 100) and the Code of Judicial Conduct. The committee, comprised of 26 current and retired judges and headed by former Justice George D. Marlow, also answers inquiries about proper campaign conduct from candidates for elective judicial office. The New York Law Journal publishes selected recent opinions of the committee.
Digest: A judge asks about his/her ethical obligations in the event an attorney appears before him/her from a firm to which the judge's firm referred a criminal matter and which firm referred several civil matters to your firm. The criminal and civil matters were all completely resolved more than two years ago, and there are no outstanding fee claims to the judge's knowledge.
Opinion: The committee has previously advised that, under similar circumstances, a judge should not preside over matters involving the other firm unless and until two years have passed from the time the business relationship ended (i.e., all financial obligations between the two firms have been satisfied). Therefore, assuming the referred cases have ended and all financial obligations between the two firms have been satisfied, a judge is not ethically obligated either to disclose the prior relationship or to disqualify himself in any proceedings in which an attorney from the other law firm appears.