Judges & Courts

Judicial Ethics Opinions

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-162

A judge who co-owns a rental building with an attorney may not preside over matters in which his/her co-owner appears, unless there is remittal of disqualification.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-143

A judge who is not in his/her window period may attend a victory party for a newly elected co-judge, even though the party is separate and distinct from the co-judge's swearing-in ceremony, provided that the party is paid for solely with personal funds.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-151

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.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-176

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.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-177

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.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-164

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.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-178

A judge who owns a home in a multi-unit building may publicly express his/her views on a proposal by building maintenance employees to unionize, provided the judge does so in his/her capacity as a private citizen and does not use judicial stationery or otherwise refer to his/her judicial office.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-180

Whether a town justice may also serve as town attorney in a different town.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-181

Whether a new justice may continue to receive health insurance benefits from his/her former employer to cover the gap in coverage before new health benefits commence.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-141

A full-time judge must not serve as a friend's health care agent unless he/she obtains the Chief Administrative Judge's approval

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-140

A judge may address a civilian complaint review board on the law of search and seizure and arrest procedures, subject to certain limitations.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14- 49

A judge, quasi-judicial official, or candidate for election to judicial office may not 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.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-170

Whether it is 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.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-146

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.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-161

A judge may serve as a deacon in his/her church and may stand at designated locations with other deacons and hold a plate or basket for the collection of tithes and offerings, provided the judge does not participate in the actual solicitation of funds.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-171

Because the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not require an administrative judge to inform another judge that he/she has received a copy of a disciplinary complaint filed against the other judge, that decision is left entirely to the administrative judge's discretion.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-175

A judge is not disqualified from presiding over petitions prepared and filed by his/her successor in the County Attorney's office, merely because these petitions rely on documents filed by another government official or department while the judge was employed as County Attorney.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-173

Whether judges 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.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-172

Whether a judge should exercise recusal over cases in which appears as counsel an attorney who is married to the real estate broker engaged by the judge's spouse to sell his/her parents' home.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-138

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; and 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.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-144

The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit a court attorney-referee from running for and, if elected, also serving as a part-time town or village justice.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-157

This responds to your inquiry asking whether you may preside over cases brought by the county agency where you previously served as a high ranking county attorney for the agency.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-133

Principal law clerks who are appointed to serve part-time as SCAR hearing officers during regular court hours as part of their job responsibilities are subject to the same restrictions as sitting judges with respect to political activities.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-139

A judge may attend a non-political retirement celebration for an elected official, even if there is a charge for admission.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-142

A judge who presides in a collaborative problem-solving court may, on behalf of his/her court, accept an award and associated monetary grant to the court from a not-for-profit organization at a non-fund-raising event and may make appropriate remarks to express appreciation for the award.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-14

Whether a judge may preside when members of the Public Defender's office appear before him or her if the Public Defender serves as the judge's co-counsel in another court.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-123

A judge may not use a title for his/her law-related book which suggests that the book is a partisan guide for law enforcement. However, the judge may lecture on legal topics covered in his/her book for audiences that consist primarily or exclusively of law enforcement personnel, provided that the judge does not manifest a predisposition to decide cases in a certain way, does not provide partisan advice on litigation strategy or how better to obtain convictions, and does not discuss the topic in a manner that would compromise the judge's apparent or actual impartiality.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-148

A full-time judge may 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.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-01

Whether a judge may preside over an arraignment, in which a defendant is not represented by counsel, raises primarily legal questions; however, if a judge acts in conformity with governing law the judge will not violate the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-08

Whether it is ethically permissible for judges to participate in local public radio stations' on-air fund drives.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-191

Whether it is ethically permissible for a judge to refer a defendant, as part of his/her sentencing, to the "Alive at 25" program

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-130

A part-time judge may not maintain simultaneous employment as a pistol permit clerk in the local sheriff's department.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-05

It is impermissible to host a court website on a social network that will display third-party advertisements in connection with the court's page.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-79

A judge may not participate as a presenter at a victim impact panel in the jurisdiction where the judge presides, but may participate in such a panel in another jurisdiction.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-82

A judge may not teach a law school course on the prosecution of a highly publicized local criminal case, where the criminal trial recently occurred in the judge's jurisdiction and a related civil case is pending.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-82

A judge may not teach a law school course on the prosecution of a highly publicized local criminal case, where the criminal trial recently occurred in the judge's jurisdiction and a related civil case is pending.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-72

A part-time attorney/judge who occasionally performs arraignments for 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, may be included on a list of attorneys who are willing to serve as compensated arbitrators in that municipality.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-62

Where a prospective witness in a criminal case is the presiding judge's former client and a jury will hear the evidence and render a verdict, the judge may preside after full disclosure of the prior representation to all sides, including the pro se defendant and his/her standby counsel. If a party objects to the judge's continued participation in the case, the judge has the sole discretion to recuse or continue to preside.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-40

A judge may 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.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-38

A judge may, 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, provided the judge does not invoke his/her judicial status in doing so.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-50

If it is legal for an administrative law judge of a traffic bureau to accept a guilty plea from a pro se defendant that includes incarceration, then it is also ethical for a part-time judge to do so in his/her separate capacity as an administrative law judge.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-41

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) may continue to preside over any additional proceedings which come before him/her in the particular case, (2) may preside over other matters in which the judge's federal court co-defendants or their counsel appear, and (3) is not precluded from appointing an attorney to Part 36 or other appointments merely because the judge and the attorney are co-defendants in the federal action.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-28

It is inconsistent with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct for a town supervisor to also serve as a security officer for the town court.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 13-33

Although a court should not simply advise a defendant of a police department's procedures for seeking a plea reduction, the court may develop a form, without the police department's or other prosecuting agency's involvement, listing all of a defendant's options, including the right to plead not guilty and proceed to trial and distribute the form to defendants or to advise a defendant orally of all his/her options.