Judicial Ethics Opinions

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-103

A full-time city court judge who presides outside the City of New York may become a notary public.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-103

A judge is not ethically required to take any action in discharge of his/her disciplinary responsibilities, where the judge's sole source of knowledge of wrongdoing on the part of an attorney is the fact that the attorney has agreed to an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal of certain charges against the attorney. Also, a judge may attest to and affirm facts within his/her personal knowledge and observation, including the judge's recollection of witnessing the execution of a family member's testamentary instrument, and the judge's recognition of certain signatures or handwriting on the instrument.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-93

A judge (1) may be honored as a distinguished alumnus/alumna at a college's fundraising event, provided the judge's participation is not advertised prior to the event and the judge's name is not listed in advance on invitations or announcements; (2) may permit the college to include information about the judge in a journal that will be distributed to guests during (but not before) the event; (3) may participate in the college's recruitment efforts by participating in a video recording in which the judge will discuss his/her memories of the college and its impact on his/her career and provide a message to this year's graduates; (4) may permit the college to play the video recording during the gala fundraising event and thereafter post it on the college's website, provided the video is used for general promotion of the college and/or recruitment of students, but not fundraising.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-129(A)

A judicial hearing officer may serve as a hearing officer for the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics, provided such service is legally permissible.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-51

For two years after entry of judgment in the trial phase of a judge's second-degree relative's criminal proceedings, provided the judge determines he/she can be fair and impartial, disclosure is mandated in lieu of disqualification when any prosecutor or defender who was personally involved at the trial phase appears before the judge on unrelated matters. If, after disclosure, a party objects to the judge presiding, the judge has discretion whether to recuse after considering all relevant factors. After the two-year period ends, the judge is not ethically required to disclose or recuse when these attorneys appear, provided he/she can be fair and impartial.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-132

A judge must not participate in a not-for-profit charitable organization's fundraising challenge, where each participant is required to publicize his/her own participation and publicly solicit other participants. However, a judge may make contributions to the organization, provided that he/she does so without personally soliciting funds or otherwise promoting the fundraiser.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-90

A judge's social relationship with the deputy director of a legal services organization does not, alone, require disqualification or disclosure when the deputy director's subordinates appear before the judge.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-80

A part-time lawyer/judge may not assist a longtime client and family friend with a case pending before another part-time lawyer/judge in the same county.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-81

Neither disqualification nor disclosure is required solely because a party appearing before the judge is the judge's judicial colleague's spouse.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-119

Under the circumstances presented, a judge may use official court stationery for correspondence in the judge's pro se proceeding to expunge a frivolous multi-million dollar lien which a litigant appearing before the judge filed against the judge's property.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-69

It is ethically permissible for a judge to suggest that his/her wedding guests consider contributing to a charity of their choice in lieu of giving a wedding gift where the judge also asks the guests to omit any reference to his/her judicial title when sending the donation.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-73

A judge may write an unsolicited letter to a federal executive branch employee expressing appreciation for the employee's professionalism, based on the judge's personal knowledge, and may use his/her judicial stationery marked "personal and unofficial."

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-66

A part-time judge who is also a high-level employee of the county government: (1) may allocate funds annually to the probation department's probation employment program, provided it does not result in the judge's frequent disqualification; (2) must not personally participate in the solicitation of funds, but may manage other county employees who will engage in such solicitations on behalf of the county office or department for which the judge works; and (3) may meet with elected officials to advocate for maintenance of services to a particular category of individuals, subject to certain limitations.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-106

An administrative judge who is required to transmit the name of an individual recommended for a particular appointment to the appointing authority, but has ethical or administrative concerns about the suitability of the appointment, should advise the appointing authority of his/her concerns when transmitting the individual's name.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-74

A full-time judge may accept free admission to a continuing legal education seminar offered by a private legal training organization that is owned and/or operated by an attorney who has not appeared, and is not likely to appear, in the judge's court, subject to a reporting requirement if the value of the gift exceeds $150. In the event that the attorney later appears in the judge's court, the judge's obligation is to disclose the gift for a reasonable period of time following the seminar, and the length of such period of time is left entirely to the judge's discretion after consideration of all relevant factors.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-68

A town or village justice need not prohibit the court clerk from engaging in charitable fund-raising on his/her own time and away from court premises.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-59

A judge need not disclose that his/her minor children work part-time as babysitters for the children of an attorney who appears in the judge's court and need not disqualify him/herself when the attorney appears.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-62

A judge may preside over a case where a party currently appearing before him/her is also an attorney who regularly appears before the judge, provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial. The judge does not thereby incur any obligation to disclose or disqualify him/herself in other matters in which the attorney or his/her law firm appears.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-112

A judge may participate in a culturally mandated celebration and burial ceremony in honor of the judge's deceased parent, which will take place in another country. During one portion of the ceremony, family, friends and other well-wishers shower the judge and his/her siblings with local currency.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-78

If a Surrogate determines that an interested party is legally in default, remittal of disqualification may be achieved without informing the defaulting party of the basis of the disqualification, and without obtaining the consent of the defaulting party.

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-73

A judge may write an unsolicited letter to a federal executive branch employee expressing appreciation for the employee's professionalism, based on the judge's personal knowledge, and may use his/her judicial stationery marked "personal and unofficial."

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-19

A judge may not collect DNA samples from convicted defendants. Rules: Judiciary Law § 212(2)(l); 22 NYCRR 100.1; 100.2; 100.2(A); 101.1; Opinions 13-66; 09-160.

Judicial Ethics

Judicial Ethics Opinion 14-23

A full-time judge who has independently written, published, marketed, and sold a bench book online is not prohibited from also selling the book directly to the Unified Court System's Office of Court Administration. Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.4(H)(1)(C); Opinion 10-84.