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Pilot Project: Recent Opinions - Grouped By Subject


On this page, we have grouped "recent" opinions roughly by subject matter, starting with Opinion 15-01. We hope this will help make the Committee's recently broadcast opinions more accessible.

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Disciplinary Obligations; Reporting Illegal or Unethical Conduct

(See generally 22 NYCRR 100.3[D].)

Sub-Topics: Conduct by Attorneys | by Other Judges | by Court Personnel | by Litigants, Witnesses, and Others

... by Attorneys

Opinion 15-231 What standards should a judge consider in determining whether he/she must take action concerning apparent misconduct by an attorney who is involved in a proceeding before the judge? May the judge wait until the proceeding ends before taking such action?

Opinion 15-54 Is a judge obligated to report two prosecutors to an attorney grievance committee based on what the judge believes to be professional misconduct?

Opinion 15-138/15-144/15-166 How should a judge analyze his/her disciplinary obligations based on second- or third-hand reports of allegedly improper conduct by an attorney?

Opinion 15-180 Where a judge has received information indicating a substantial likelihood that an attorney has committed a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and has further concluded that the apparent misconduct seriously calls into question the attorney's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law, may the judge nonetheless refrain from reporting the apparent misconduct to the grievance committee if (a) the misconduct was covered extensively in the media and (b) the judge believes the attorney's former employer may have reported the misconduct?

Opinion 15-157 Must a court attorney referee take any action on learning that an attorney briefly spoke to a witness about subpoenaed materials during a recess?

Opinion 16-159 What are the ethical obligations of a judge who is dissatisfied with an attorney's explanation of the propriety of his/her conduct in connection with a proposed default divorce decree?

Opinion 16-48 Must a judge report an attorney if he/she believes the attorney is improperly attempting to include personal information about the judge's family in the record?

Opinion 16-39 What are a judge's obligations with respect to reporting attorneys for improper use of their firm's IOLA account?

Opinion 15-22 What action, if any, is a judge required to take when the judge believes an attorney who is running for judicial office made an improper political contribution in violation of 22 NYCRR 100.5?

Opinion 16-132 Must a judge report a litigant's former attorney for alleged, unspecified sexual misconduct briefly alluded to in open court and in the attorney's absence?

Opinion 16-110 What are a judge's obligations after hearing "confidentially" from another judge about possibly unethical and/or illegal conduct of a local prosecutor, where the inquiring judge has no personal knowledge of such conduct?

Opinion 15-183 What are a judge's disciplinary obligations after learning that a police report contains a defendant's unconfirmed, but also un-denied claim that an assistant public defender directed a racial/ethnic slur toward the defendant?

Opinion 15-135 What are the obligations of a judge who has received a secondhand report of a casually overheard and possibly privileged conversation between an attorney and his/her client, relating to a case before the judge?

Opinion 17-06 Under the circumstances, is a judge required to take any additional steps in response to second-hand information about an attorney's alleged misconduct?

Opinion 17-07 Must a judge report an attorney he/she has never met, seen, or interacted with, based solely on information received from the judge’s relatives?

... by Other Judges

Opinion 15-138/15-144/15-166 How should a judge analyze his/her disciplinary obligations based on second- or third-hand reports of allegedly improper conduct by another judge?

Opinion 17-48 What are the obligations of a part-time lawyer judge who concludes that another judge, while presiding over a case, threatened to file a disciplinary complaint against the inquirer unless his/her client settled the case for a particular sum?

Opinion 15-119 Where a county court judge knows only that a town justice presided over an arraignment and then requested the matter be transferred due to a purported conflict, but lacks relevant details of the purported conflict, what (if any) disciplinary obligations does the county court judge have?

Opinion 16-46 Where a judge has serious concerns about inconsistencies at the very core of another judge's testimony on a motion challenging an arrest warrant issued under that other judge's name, how should he/she determine whether reporting is mandatory?

Opinion 15-124 What are a judge's obligations when he/she concludes that another judge has attempted to use the prestige of judicial office to influence the outcome of a family member's criminal case?

Opinion 15-94 What are the obligations of a judge who receives reliable information that a more senior judge, who has administrative or supervisory responsibilities, displayed impatient, discourteous, and undignified behavior on the bench, made unprovoked threats to alter another judge's order in the case sua sponte to suit the more senior judge's personal preferences, and repeatedly refused to consider or decide the issues before him/her?

... by Court Personnel (non-attorneys)

Opinion 15-189 What are a judge's obligations on learning of substantial and troubling irregularities in his/her court arising from the conduct of a former town court clerk, as well as possibly improper behavior by a former town justice?

Opinion 16-103 Where a town or village justice has already reported substantial and troubling irregularities by a co-judge's court clerk to a supervising judge, and taken steps to ensure that the clerk will have no further contact with his/her files, does the judge have any obligation to take further action?

... by Litigants, Witnesses, and Others (non-attorneys)

Opinion 15-153 Must a judge report to the probation department that an individual appearing before the judge has violated his/her probation?

Opinion 16-154 May a judge disclose his/her habitability concerns to a local code enforcement officer? May the judge also issue a warrant for the code enforcement officer to enter the premises?

Opinion 16-25 May a judge notify a police officer's commander of the officer's non-compliance with a legal mandate?

Opinion 17-07 Must a judge report a real estate agent who forged his/her name on a letter of reference, mentioned the judge’s judicial status, and submitted the letter to a co-op board without the judge’s knowledge or consent? 

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Public Advocacy or Comment; Fund-Granting Recommendations

(See e.g. 22 NYCRR 100.4[C][1]-[2]; 100.4[C][3]b][iii]; 100.5; 100.2[C]; 100.3[B][8]; et al.)

Opinion 17-38 (1) May a judge participate in the upcoming March for Science?  (2) May a judge (a) call a Senate Committee to express an opinion on a pending federal executive branch appointment; (b) sign a MoveOn.org petition concerning a federal executive branch appointment; and/or (c) participate in a local political rally, march or demonstration sponsored by grassroots organizations?  (cross-listed under Political Activity)

Opinion 17-18 A part-time judge may suggest that local legislators amend a penal statute to include a potential jail sentence so that, for alleged violations after the effective date, the court may issue an arrest warrant to produce recalcitrant defendants.

Opinion 16-178 A judicial association may not submit an amicus brief to the Court of Appeals in a pending appeal to express its members' concern, as trial judges, about the practical effects of a recent Appellate Division decision that trial judges lack statutory authority to take a particular action in connection with sentencing. The judicial association and/or individual judges may instead propose changes to applicable statutes which affect sentencing procedures in their courts. However, if it is not possible to advocate for the desired statutory change without publicly commenting on a specific, identifiable case, they must wait until the case is completely resolved.

Opinion 16-135 May a judge publicly advocate for a change in the Penal Law by writing to executive and legislative bodies and/or officials, as well as other potentially interested parties? Must the judge notify local prosecutors and/or defense counsel of his/her proposal so they can respond to it?

Opinion 16-116 May a full-time judge who presides over criminal arraignments appear at public meetings of the county legislature and other governmental boards or agencies to advocate for: (1) increased staffing for the District Attorney and Public Defender so they can appear at criminal arraignments and perform their other duties and/or (2) "a centralized district court or arraignment court to speed the process and assure that the People and the defendant are represented"?

Opinion 16-78 May a town judge express his/her views to the town board concerning a proposed change to a local speed limit and its likely effect on public confidence in the courts?

Opinion 15-98 May a magistrates' association send a letter expressing its position on legislation addressing a perceived disparity in the distribution of monies collected by New York's town and village courts, which affects the operation of such courts?

Opinion 15-48 May a magistrates' association publicly support a resolution urging a legislative change to assist local taxpayers in funding their local justice courts?

Opinion 16-145 May a county Magistrates Association, at the request of a bar association and the county executive, comment on the bar association's proposed assigned counsel plan before it is implemented by the county? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations and Judicial Associations)

Opinion 16-94 May a judge take a public position on whether a constitutional convention should be convened in an upcoming referendum?

Opinion 16-95/16-107 May a judge write a letter on behalf of a not-for-profit organization's grant application to improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice, where the application (if granted) will specifically assist crime victims?

Opinion 16-02 May a judge partner with, or commit the court to partner with, entities applying for a grant to create a domestic violence advocacy program? May the judge or the court participate in the ongoing administration of the resulting advocacy program? (cross-listed under Judicial Independence)

Opinion 16-89 Where a municipality has previously declined to add court officers' names to a memorial honoring first responders who died during rescue efforts following a terrorist attack, may a judge nonetheless write a letter urging the municipality to add those names?

Opinion 16-27 May a judicial hearing officer write a letter supporting an inmate's efforts to gain parole and/or clemency?

Opinion 16-33 May a judge write a letter on behalf of a family member who has a criminal case pending in another state? Does it make a difference if the judge does not reveal his/her judicial status but writes solely in his/her personal capacity as the defendant's relative and as an individual who has previous professional experience as a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and a quasi-judicial official?

Opinion 16-62 May a judge who is a respondent in a CPLR Article 78 proceeding seeking to annul/vacate the judge's order in a pending criminal case comment on the criminal case in his/her answer or appearance in the proceeding?

Opinion 15-61 May a judge appear on a panel program to discuss a decision recently issued by the judge, when the time to appeal has not expired and an attorney who argued the case before the judge would be a fellow panelist? 

Opinion 16-127 May a judge serving on an official court-sponsored legislative advisory committee participate in committee discussions relating to an ongoing proceeding?

Opinion 15-188 May a judge become involved in legislative redistricting under the facts presented? (cross-listed under Political Activity)

Opinion 16-60 May a judge join an informal discussion group with politically connected people to develop detailed proposals for redistricting reform, comprehensive election and voting reforms, restructuring the legislature, changes in school funding, and other highly controversial or political matters? (cross-listed under Political Activity)

Opinion 15-165 May a judge provide the court's internal weekly case summaries to a newspaper for publication? (cross-listed under Judicial Independence)

Opinion 15-120 May a judge join in an advertising campaign intended to lobby political support and funding for union contract renewals for the judge's alma mater? (cross-listed under Political Activity)

Opinion 15-92(B) May a judge write and forward a consular letter of invitation inviting family members to visit the judge in the United States, where this letter will set forth facts concerning the judge's income and its source in order to demonstrate that the judge is a responsible person who is able to meet the material and accommodation needs of the persons invited? If so, may the judge use judicial stationery for such a letter?

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Reference Letters (Job, School, Award); Fact Witness; Character Witness; Testimonials

(See 22 NYCRR 100.2[C].)

Opinion 16-106 May a full-time judge with relevant personal knowledge concerning a neighbor complete a Department of Social Services "Residency Verification" form which (a) requests strictly factual information concerning the names of all adults and children in the home; (b) requires the form be filled out by a professional who knows the applicant and his/her family; and (c) requires the signer to state his/her profession?

Opinion 15-193 May a judge write to the director of a federally funded medical facility to express appreciation for care provided to the judge's deceased parent? May the judge send copies of such a letter to federal legislators?

Opinion 15-103 May a judge write a review of the professional services provided by his/her divorce lawyer, on an online ratings service that displays individual reviews directly to the public?

Opinion 15-42 May a judge and his/her family share their experience with a not-for-profit religious organization's summer camp with other families who are considering sending their children to the camp, at the request of the organization?

Opinion 15-21 What are a judge's obligations when he/she learns that the county executive proposes to state truthfully, during an upcoming state of the county address, that the judge is a satisfied user of a county-run public transportation system?

Opinion 16-38 May a judge presiding in a large urban criminal court write a reference for a police officer seeking to be promoted based on personal knowledge of the officer, which predates the judge's assumption of judicial office?

Opinion 15-173 May a judge write a letter supporting a court officer's request to be assigned to the judge's courthouse?

Opinion 16-18 May a judge serve as a character reference for a court intern who has applied for a pistol permit?

Opinion 15-74 May a judge who has personal knowledge of a convicted defendant awaiting sentencing in federal court, in response to a subpoena, submit an affidavit in letter form to the sentencing judge requesting leniency for the defendant?

Opinion 16-41 May a judge, at the request of an attorney who recently appeared before him/her as the subject of a Treatment Court proceeding, voluntarily testify in the attorney's disciplinary proceeding?

Opinion 15-139/15-140 May a judge serve as a reference for someone who recently appeared before the judge as a defendant/participant in a treatment-oriented problem-solving court?

Opinion 15-101 May a judge who presides in a treatment-oriented problem solving court serve as a job reference for a defendant/participant who recently appeared before the judge, where the judge would merely provide objective observations based on reliable personal knowledge about the individual, drawn from many months of regular court appearances, reports and discussions?

Opinion 15-92(B) May a judge write and forward a consular letter of invitation inviting family members to visit the judge in the United States, where this letter will set forth facts concerning the judge's income and its source in order to demonstrate that the judge is a responsible person who is able to meet the material and accommodation needs of the persons invited? If so, may the judge use judicial stationery for such a letter?

Opinion 15-64 May a judge permit two defense attorneys who regularly appear before him/her to include the judge's name as a reference on an application nominating the judge's court attorney for an award from a legal publication?

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Conflicts; Disqualification

(See 22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.3[E]-[F]; Judiciary Law 14.)

Sub-Topics: Court Personnel | Other Judges | Judge's Relatives | Judge's Social Relationships | Judge's Former Employment | Judge's Current or Former Lawyer | Judge's Business and Financial Interests | Judge's Election Campaign or Appointment | Judge's Prior Judicial Decisions or Actions | Disciplinary Complaints; Lawsuits; Criticism | Town and Village Justices | Judge's Extra-Judicial Activities | Miscellaneous

Conflicts - Court Personnel

Former Law Clerk's New Employment; Current Law Clerk's Future Employer

Opinion 17-19 When a judge's former court attorney has become the District Attorney, and the judge is disqualified from matters involving the DA's office for one year, is such disqualification subject to remittal?

Opinion 16-162 What are the obligations of a County Court judge whose full-time court attorney is now a town justice within the same county?

Opinion 16-144 May a judge whose law clerk becomes the District Attorney preside over criminal cases in veterans court?

Opinion 16-19 May an appellate judge, whose former law clerk is now a support magistrate, serve on an appellate panel reviewing a Family Court judge's decision to grant or deny objections to the support magistrate's factual and legal determinations? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 15-58 May a judge whose court attorney is elected District Attorney preside in cases involving the District Attorney's office?

Opinion 15-14 What steps must an appellate judge take once the judge learns that his/her law clerk is seeking post-clerkship employment?

Court Clerk's Concurrent Employment

Opinion 16-142 May a town or village justice permit the part-time court clerk to assume a second part-time position with the same municipality, working for the municipal prosecutor in a strictly clerical capacity?

Opinion 16-53 May a town or village justice permit the court clerk to serve as an acting justice of the same court?

Opinion 15-175 May a town or village justice permit the court's sole court clerk to maintain concurrent clerical employment at a substance abuse facility?

Opinion 15-216 May a town or village justice permit a part-time court clerk to accept part-time clerical employment with a law firm which plans to cease appearing in the judge's court?

Opinion 15-159 May a town justice consent to the appointment of his/her first-degree relative as town court clerk and permit his/her relative to continue full-time clerical employment with a private law firm that appears in the court twice a year?

Court Personnel's Former Employment

Opinion 17-16 Digest: A new judge, who previously served as law clerk to his/her current supervising judge and attended multiple events at the judge's home, must disclose the relationship in cases involving the supervising judge's spouse's law firm. Thereafter, the judge may preside if he/she can be fair and impartial after considering all relevant factors. However, because disclosure is mandatory, the judge must disqualify him/herself if a party in the case is appearing without counsel.

Opinion 16-166 Is a judge disqualified from presiding in matters involving the District Attorney's office where (i) his/her law clerk is a former assistant district attorney and (ii) the law clerk's second-degree relative is currently an assistant district attorney?

Opinion 16-99 (1) Where a chief clerk was formerly associated with a private law firm, what are the judge's obligations when the chief clerk's former employer appears in the court? (2) Is there any obligation with respect to matters involving wills admitted for probate that were previously prepared, witnessed or notarized by the chief clerk while at the firm? (3) What are the judge's obligations when the chief clerk's attorney spouse appears?

Opinion 15-172 Where a judge's law clerk is the former District Attorney, what are the judge's obligations when the District Attorney's office appears?

Opinion 15-204 May a judge preside in a case where the judge's secretary once provided freelance transcription services at an earlier stage while it was pending in another court?

Opinion 15-52 May a judge preside in a case where a clerical court employee, not the judge's personal appointee, had previously provided freelance transcription services to a private attorney?

Opinion 15-233 What are a judge's obligations with respect to matters in which the court clerk was previously involved as a non-supervisory staff attorney in his/her prior employment? Does it matter whether the case will end by consent, default, or dismissal? How long does this obligation last?

Opinion 16-14 What are a judge's obligations with respect to his/her law clerk's former private law firm employer?

Opinion 15-115 May a town justice permit the town court clerk to meet with the court clerk's former employer to explain notes the court clerk made during his/her prior employment?

Opinion 15-43 What are a judge's obligations when a case that comes before the judge is one that the judge's law clerk had been personally involved in during the law clerk's former employment in a government law office? What are the judge's obligations with respect to other cases that were pending in that government law office during the law clerk's former employment, where the law clerk was in a non-supervisory role and had no personal involvement in the case.

Court Personnel's Relatives Appearing Before the Judge

Opinion 16-166 Is a judge disqualified from presiding in matters involving the District Attorney's office where (i) his/her law clerk is a former assistant district attorney and (ii) the law clerk's second-degree relative is currently an assistant district attorney?

Miscellaneous Court Personnel Activities and Relationships

Opinion 17-16 Digest: A new judge, who previously served as law clerk to his/her current supervising judge and attended multiple events at the judge's home, must disclose the relationship in cases involving the supervising judge's spouse's law firm. Thereafter, the judge may preside if he/she can be fair and impartial after considering all relevant factors. However, because disclosure is mandatory, the judge must disqualify him/herself if a party in the case is appearing without counsel.

Opinion 16-64 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who is the chair of a political committee on which the judge's court attorney serves? Must he/she insulate the court attorney from such matters?

Opinion 16-133 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who has hosted a single fund-raiser for the judge's law clerk's election campaign?

Opinion 16-104 May a village justice permit the court clerk to attend the mayor's regularly scheduled meetings with the village government's department heads?

Opinion 16-54 May a judge preside in a matter involving a defendant who (a) is a judge in the same geographic region and (b) previously had some minimal political and professional connections with the judge's current law secretary? Is disclosure required? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Other Judges)

Opinion 16-115 May a judge permit his/her law clerk to teach a class on the Penal Law to law enforcement personnel at a local military facility?

Opinion 16-138 May a judge who wishes to appoint a new law clerk circulate the job notice through a local bar association, specialized bar association committees, and the attorneys who serve on those committees? May the judge ask such attorneys to circulate the job notice within their law firms? Is disclosure or disqualification required? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations and Judicial Associations)

Opinion 15-170 May a judge permit his/her Chief Clerk to serve on an advisory committee charged with helping develop a mediation program for the judge's court in order to represent the court's interests?

Opinion 15-132 May a judge hire his/her current law clerk's spouse as the judge's secretary?

Opinion 16-165 What are the obligations of a village justice who learns that the village plans to hire the village prosecutor's spouse as a full-time village court clerk?

Opinion 15-25 May a Family Court judge permit his/her court attorney to serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit organization which provides certain services to low-income residents in the region?

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Conflicts - Other Judges

Opinion 17-31 May a judge preside in a criminal case where the complainant is his/her co-judge's adult child, and the judge has no relationship with the complainant other than purely "happenstance" interactions?

Opinion 16-114 May a full-time judge preside in matters involving a public law department headed by a part-time judge?

Opinion 16-77 Where an administrative judge has commenced a lawsuit against certain entities and attorneys for alleged misconduct in the judge's court, what are the obligations of judges in that jurisdiction with respect to other cases in which those entities or attorneys appear?

Opinion 16-54 May a judge preside in a matter involving a defendant who (a) is a judge in the same geographic region and (b) previously had some minimal political and professional connections with the judge's current law secretary? Is disclosure required? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Court Personnel)

Opinion 16-65 May a judge who has the duty of appointing special prosecutors appoint an attorney who is related to his/her co-judge? (cross-listed under Exercise of Appointment Powers)

Opinion 15-137 Must a judge disclose or disqualify him/herself from cases in which his/her co-judge's spouse has served (or may serve) as a social worker for a defendant on referral by the probation department?

Opinion 15-107/15-110 Is disclosure or disqualification required in a criminal case if a co-judge's spouse has served, or may serve, as a social worker for the defendant on referral by the probation department?

Opinion 15-108 May a judge preside when his/her co-judge's child, or a law firm with which the co-judge's child is affiliated as special counsel, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-41 May a judge preside when his/her co-judge's child appears before the judge as an attorney?

Opinion 15-87 May a judge preside in cases involving the District Attorney's office, when a co-judge's spouse is employed as an Assistant District Attorney?

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Conflicts - Judge's Relatives

Sub-Topics: Within First Degree (spouse, child, parent) | Second Degree (sibling, grandchild, grandparent) | Fourth Degree (first cousins) | Sixth Degree (second cousins) | Beyond Sixth Degree / Too Remote

Within First Degree (includes Spouse, Child, Parent)

Opinion 17-75 Digest: A judge whose non-attorney spouse is employed by a local public authority may preside in matters where a part-time employee of the same public authority, in his/her capacity as a private attorney, appears on behalf of criminal defendants or other private clients. The judge need not disclose that the attorney also works part-time for the same public authority that employs the judge's spouse.

Opinion 17-41 Digest: A judge whose first-degree relative has been hired as a law advisor to the local police department on matters unrelated to criminal investigations and prosecutions may preside in cases involving the police, provided the judge can be fair and impartial and his/her relative is not involved in the case.

Opinion 17-03 Digest: (1) A judge who is disqualifying him/herself from cases involving New York City and its agencies due to his/her minor child's ongoing personal injury action against the city and its board of education may nonetheless preside in the following circumstances, assuming he/she can be fair and impartial:
(a) when a private law firm representing a defendant in the child's lawsuit appears before the judge in an unrelated matter, provided no party is appearing without counsel and the judge makes full disclosure on the record;
(b) in cases involving state public benefit corporations;
(c) in motions seeking to unseal records in possession of the District Attorney's Office, whether or not contested; and
(d) in a personal injury action against non-city defendants arising from an injury claimed to have occurred on a city street, notwithstanding that a separate action arising from the same injury, not pending before the judge, has been filed against the city. 
(2) In a matter where parties have requested records from the city (or one of its agencies) as a non-party:
(a) if the non-party city agency does not appear or take a position in the matter, the judge may continue to preside;
(b) if the non-party city agency appears or opposes a motion to quash or motion to unseal, the judge must either transfer the motion to another judge or disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal; but
(c) if a party files a motion seeking to punish a non-party city agency for contempt, the judge is disqualified from the entire case, subject to remittal.

Opinion 16-160 What cases may a part-time judge preside over, once his/her first-degree relative becomes the police chief for the municipality where the judge presides?

Opinion 16-111 May a judge preside in matters involving a law firm that has temporarily hired the judge's child for the purpose of studying law?

Opinion 16-130 Where a judge's spouse, as director of government relations, helps select a law firm to handle lobbying and works directly with the law firm's lobbyists, may the judge preside in matters involving that law firm? How does the analysis change when the spouse's employer switches law firms?

Opinion 16-74 Where a judge's first-degree relative works for a local hospital, what are the judge's obligations when (1) a party calls witnesses, subpoenas records, or presents exhibits from the hospital or (2) a case involves foster children who have been, or will be, treated in another unit of that hospital?

Opinion 16-03 Where a judge's spouse is a statewide information security officer for the state police and internally advises that agency on technology issues, must the judge disclose the relationship or disqualify him/herself in cases involving the state police?

Opinion 16-44 Where a judge's non-lawyer spouse works for a global insurance company in a mid-level position, with no litigation responsibilities, what are the judge's obligations when that insurance company appears before him/her?

Opinion 15-206 Must a judge disclose or disqualify him/herself when the judge's child's election opponent appears before the judge as an attorney?

Opinion 16-31 What are a judge's obligations on learning that a lawyer or law firm appearing before him/her is opposing counsel to the judge's attorney spouse in an unrelated action in another court? May the judge continue to preside? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 16-28 May a Family Court judge preside in matters involving an agency that has hired the judge's first-degree relative for a part-time entry-level job, given that the agency is one where the county department of social services may place a child?

Opinion 15-163 What are the obligations of a judge who learns that an attorney appearing before him/her made a charitable donation to honor the judge's deceased relative?

Opinion 15-164 May a judge whose first-degree relative is a part-time attorney for the county department of social services preside in criminal cases alleging welfare fraud where the agency is the victim or complainant?

Opinion 16-67 Where a judge's first-degree relative heads the local probation department, what are the judge's obligations in matters where the department's employees appear?

Opinion 15-150 Where a judge's first-degree relative is a non-supervisory staff attorney for an insurance company, who will not work on any cases in the New York State courts, what are the judge's obligations when that company appears before him/her as a party or as insurance carrier for a party?

Opinion 15-212 May a judge preside over cases involving lawyers who sought to contribute to the judge's spouse's recent political campaign?

Opinion 15-206 Must a judge disclose or disqualify him/herself when the judge's child's election opponent appears before the judge as an attorney?

Opinion 15-159 May a town justice consent to the appointment of his/her first-degree relative as town court clerk and permit his/her relative to continue full-time clerical employment with a private law firm that appears in the court twice a year?

Opinion 15-96 May a judge receive, as part of an equitable distribution, a percentage of the future legal fees earned by his/her former spouse upon the settlement or verdict of any cases deemed part of the former spouse's law practice?  If so, what are the judge's obligations when adverse counsel from those cases appear before the judge on unrelated matters?

Opinion 15-95 What is a judge's ethical obligation when the judge's insurance company, which recently represented the interests of the judge or the judge's first degree relative in two civil actions, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-88 May a judge preside when an attorney appearing in the judge's court is also representing the judge's child in an unrelated, contested matrimonial action?

Opinion 15-80 May a judge may continue to preside in a case after learning the parties have engaged in occasional, discrete business transactions with the judge's parents' manufacturing corporation in matters entirely unrelated to the case?

Opinion 15-40 May a judge whose spouse is the director of the regional chamber of commerce preside when an entity before the judge is a member of the chamber of commerce?

Opinion 15-39  May a judge preside in criminal matters involving domestic violence charges, if the judge knows that the probation department is likely to refer defendants who are convicted of crimes involving domestic violence charges to a program run by the judge's social worker spouse?

Opinion 15-06 May a town or village justice whose first-degree relative is a social worker in the local probation department's domestic violence division preside in cases involving the probation department and/or allegations of domestic violence?

Opinion 15-35/15-75  May a judge whose first-degree relative was killed by a driver who was charged with driving under the influence preside over cases involving persons charged with driving under the influence?

Opinion 15-33 (1) What are a judge's obligations when the judge's spouse's former law firm appears before the judge, on matters in which the judge's spouse had no involvement, while the law firm maintains a fee interest in eight other cases handled by the judge's spouse? (2) What are a judge's obligations when attorneys to whom the judge's spouse has referred occasional, discrete cases, or from whom the judge's spouse has received such cases, appear in the judge's court?

Opinion 15-05 Must a judge disclose that his/her spouse is the administrative assistant to a councilperson, and in that capacity schedules appointments for the councilperson's constituents with a pro bono attorney, when a litigant who was assisted by the councilperson's pro bono attorney appears before the judge?

Within Second Degree (includes Siblings, Grandparents, Grandchildren)

Opinion 16-66 Where an attorney's representation of the judge's second-degree relative ended two years ago, but the judge knows the attorney has an outstanding judgment for unpaid legal fees, what are the judge's obligations in matters where that attorney appears?

Opinion 16-123 Does the disclosure required by Opinion 14-51 (for attorneys personally involved in prosecuting or defending the judge's second-degree relative) terminate on the judge's relative's death? If not, must the judge now also disclose that his/her relative died, and reveal the cause of death?

Opinion 14-51 (1) May a judge preside after entry of judgment in the trial phase of a judge's relative's criminal proceedings when a prosecutor or defender who was personally involved at the trial phase appears before the judge on unrelated matters?  (2) May a judge preside when an attorney who is personally involved in handling the judge's relative's criminal appeal appears in the judge’s court? (3) Must a judge disclose or disqualify when the assistant public defender who was initially appointed to represent the judge's relative on appeal appears?

Opinion 16-57 What are a judge's obligations when his/her second-degree relative, who formerly held a supervisory position in a government law office, becomes the subject of employment discrimination charges filed by a former subordinate?

Opinion 16-155 What steps should a judge take on learning that his/her second-degree relative has, in his/her capacity as a member of a religious institution, commenced an informal counseling relationship with a defendant who is appearing before the judge in a long-running high-profile criminal matter? (cross-listed under Ex Parte Communications)

Opinion 15-18 May a judge preside in cases involving protestors, arrested on the same charges as the judge's second-degree relatives, where the judge's relatives are not parties and are unlikely to be material witnesses?

Within Fourth Degree (includes First Cousins)

Opinion 16-122 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who previously represented the judge's third-degree relative (a niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, great-grandparent or great-grandchild), after the representation has completely terminated and all fees are paid? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 15-191 May a judge preside when other attorneys from the firm where his/her niece or nephew is an associate appear?

Within Sixth Degree (includes Second Cousins)

Opinion 16-121 What are a judge's obligations in cases involving a probation officer who is the judge's fifth-degree relative by blood or marriage?

Beyond Sixth Degree; Non-Relatives (Too Remote / No Common Ancestor)

Opinion 13-114 Must a judge disqualify him/herself when a litigant who is the niece/nephew (by marriage) of the judge's first cousin (by marriage) appears in the judge's court?

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Conflicts - Judge's Social Relationships

Opinion 17-16 Digest: A new judge, who previously served as law clerk to his/her current supervising judge and attended multiple events at the judge's home, must disclose the relationship in cases involving the supervising judge's spouse's law firm. Thereafter, the judge may preside if he/she can be fair and impartial after considering all relevant factors. However, because disclosure is mandatory, the judge must disqualify him/herself if a party in the case is appearing without counsel.

Opinion 16-114 May a full-time judge preside in matters involving a government agency where the judge's former public sector colleague and current social acquaintance has a high-ranking position? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Judge's Former Employment)

Opinion 15-185 What are a court attorney-referee's obligations when an attorney appearing before him/her is the sibling of the referee's close personal friend?

Opinion 16-48 Is a judge disqualified from presiding in a case where a party and his/her spouse are long-time acquaintances of the judge's spouse and an associate in that party's law firm served as the judge's court attorney more than a decade ago?

Opinion 15-45 May a judge preside in cases involving a government law office, once the judge's former close personal friend and law partner assumes a supervisory position in the office?

Opinion 15-38 What is a judge's ethical obligation when the judge's former law firm associate, who is now an assistant district attorney, appears before the judge?

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Conflicts - Judge's Former Employment, Former Clients, or Former Colleagues

Opinion 17-27 May a full-time trial-level judge have discussions with various public and private entities concerning potential post-judicial employment? After leaving the bench, may the judge appear before former colleagues?

Opinion 16-163/16-170 Where a full-time judge is both a former assistant public defender and a former private law firm partner, and his/her former law firm colleague supervises all attorneys in the Public Defender's office, what are his/her obligations in cases involving the Public Defender's office?

Opinion 16-114 May a full-time judge preside in matters involving a government agency where the judge's former public sector colleague and current social acquaintance has a high-ranking position? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Judge's Social Relationships)

Opinion 16-14 What are a judge's obligations with respect to his/her former colleagues at a private law firm and his/her former subordinates in a government law office?

Opinion 16-20 May a judge whose prior service as an assistant attorney general ended five years ago preside in matters involving the Attorney General's office?

Opinion 16-59 May a judge who previously served as a local prosecutor for a lightly populated municipality for many years, ending over a decade ago, preside in a case involving high-profile allegations of recent misconduct by the local police?

Opinion 16-36 (1) May an appellate judge who was formerly an equity partner in a large law firm preside in a case involving a party that is a current or former client of the law firm, when represented by a different law firm? (2) How is the disqualification period calculated if there are ongoing financial connections or obligations between the judge and the firm? (3) Must a judge refer to his/her former law firm's conflict databases to determine whether a client relationship exists? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Judge's Business and Financial Interests)

Opinion 15-211 May a judge who formerly served as an assistant district attorney, and whose law clerk was a supervising ADA in the same office, preside in cases involving that office? What are the judge's obligations with respect to the law clerk?

Opinion 15-221 What are a judge's obligations where the District Attorney is a former client of the judge's law firm, but the representation completely ended four years ago?

Opinion 15-194 On becoming a part-time village justice, may an attorney preside over cases when his/her former law partner appears?

Opinion 15-126 (1) May a judge preside in matters where his/her former law partner appears as counsel? (2) May a judge appoint his/her former partners to fiduciary positions? (3) May a judge who previously served as counsel to the public administrator preside over cases in which the public administrator appears?

Opinion 15-67 May a judge who is a former prosecutor preside in a case involving a formerly incarcerated individual's claim of actual innocence, under the totality of the circumstances presented?

Opinion 15-63 May a judge who was "of counsel" to a law firm five years ago, and its tenant a decade ago, appoint a partner of that firm to a Part 36 fiduciary appointment?

Opinion 15-51 Must a full-time judge disqualify him/herself in a case involving a client of the judge's former law firm, where the judge's former law firm still owes the judge undistributed capital but is not involved in the case before the judge, and the judge had minimal contact with this client while with the law firm?

Opinion 15-19 What are the obligations of a full-time judge who learns that his/her former law firm is still using the judge's name in its signage, letterhead, or other materials?

Opinion 15-148 May a judge who formerly represented a particular category of litigants in the specialized court where he/she now sits remain on the private e-mail list for a former colleague's summaries, commentary, and compilations of recent cases? (cross-listed under Ex Parte Communications)

Opinion 15-38 What is a judge's ethical obligation when the judge's former law firm associate, who is now an assistant district attorney, appears before the judge?

Opinion 17-08 A part-time judge whose former private employer has become the District Attorney has the following obligations when the District Attorney or his/her staff appears, during the two-year period following the termination of their former employment relationship: (1) In the first year, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from presiding in any case involving the District Attorney's office; (2) In the second year, disclosure is mandated in lieu of disqualification, and the judge may exercise discretion in determining any motion for recusal. During the entire two-year period, the judge may not preside in a case involving the District Attorney's office if a party is appearing without counsel.

Opinion 17-10 May a newly elected judge preside over matters that arose during his/her prior tenure as the County Attorney?

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Conflicts - Judge's Current or Former Lawyer

Opinion 15-114 May a judge preside over a case involving the law firm of an attorney who represented the judge at a negotiation session in the judge's matrimonial matter, where the attorney now appearing before judge was completely insulated from any involvement in the judge's matrimonial matter? Is disclosure required?

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Conflicts - Judge's Business or Financial Interests; Judge's Current Partners and Current Clients; Seeking Post-Judicial Employment

Opinion 16-175 While a judge need not separately scrutinize all pleadings to determine whether his/her client is the issuing officer, the judge must not take a guilty plea, either by mail or in person, if the client's role as issuing officer is readily available, such as in those instances where the officer's name appears on the ticket.

Opinion 16-174 What are a village justice's obligations once a local probation officer is appointed to serve on the village board? Does it make a difference if they will also be on the same slate in an upcoming election? (cross-listed under Town & Village FAQs and Conflicts - Judge's Election or Appointment)

Opinion 17-02 May a part-time city court judge serve as a part-time attorney with legal aid in another county? What restrictions apply? (cross-listed under Practice of Law)

Opinion 16-24 What are the obligations of a judge when an attorney appearing before the judge is currently holding money in escrow for the judge?

Opinion 15-169 Where a judge is receiving ongoing restitution installment payments from an individual, payable through a court-ordered intermediary organization, may the judge preside in unrelated cases where that entity's attorneys appear? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 16-36 (1) May an appellate judge who was formerly an equity partner in a large law firm preside in a case involving a party that is a current or former client of the law firm, when represented by a different law firm? (2) How is the disqualification period calculated if there are ongoing financial connections or obligations between the judge and the firm? (3) Must a judge refer to his/her former law firm's conflict databases to determine whether a client relationship exists? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Judge's Former Employment)

Opinion 16-63 May a part-time attorney judge's attorney tenant appear before other co-judges of the judge's court, where the judge and the tenant (a) share a fax machine and fax number which is included in their respective stationery, (b) occasionally cover court appearances for each other, and/or (c) permit the judge's receptionist to answer phone calls for the tenant?

Opinion 15-151 May a village justice continue as a client of a salesperson whose spouse is the village prosecutor?

Opinion 15-155 May a judge preside in a matter where the judge and his/her spouse own a de minimis interest in a large corporation that is a party in the matter?

Opinion 15-96 May a judge receive, as part of an equitable distribution, a percentage of the future legal fees earned by his/her former spouse upon the settlement or verdict of any cases deemed part of the former spouse's law practice?  If so, what are the judge's obligations when adverse counsel from those cases appear before the judge on unrelated matters?

Opinion 15-95 What is a judge's ethical obligation when the judge's insurance company, which recently represented the interests of the judge or the judge's first degree relative in two civil actions, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-59 Is a part-time judge who also works for a financial institution disqualified from all matters involving his/her non-judicial employer's landlord?

Opinion 15-51 Must a full-time judge disqualify him/herself in a case involving a client of the judge's former law firm, where the judge's former law firm still owes the judge undistributed capital but is not involved in the case before the judge, and the judge had minimal contact with this client while with the law firm?

Opinion 15-46 Where a judge's real estate purchase contract recently terminated by its terms without a resulting sale, may the judge preside in search warrant applications in which the prospective seller appears?

Opinion 15-32 May a judge who is a resident shareholder and proprietary lessee in a cooperative housing corporation preside over tax certiorari cases brought by the law firm that represents the judge's own building or housing corporation, on behalf of other clients?

Opinion 15-142 May a part-time town judge, who is also executor of an estate that owns real property within the town, retain counsel and petition the town for approval of the beneficiaries' requested subdivision of the property? If so, may the judge thereafter preside when assistant town attorneys appear before the court?

Opinion 15-02 May a judge preside in DWI cases involving blood drawn at a hospital where, in the judge's capacity as a physician, he/she is responsible for regulatory compliance with the hospital's emergency department phlebotomy services?

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Conflicts - Judge's Election Campaign or Appointment

Opinion 17-26 Digest: A newly-elected judge may preside in matters involving an attorney who participated in the absentee ballot review process following the general election, provided the attorney had no other involvement in the judge's campaign and did not advocate on the judge's behalf during the absentee ballot review process.

Opinion 16-168 May a judge appoint his/her former campaign treasurer to serve as a referee in a foreclosure action? (cross-listed under Fiduciary Activities; Appointment Powers / Exercise of Appointment Powers)

Opinion 16-174 What are a village justice's obligations once a local probation officer is appointed to serve on the village board? Does it make a difference if they will also be on the same slate in an upcoming election? (cross-listed under Conflict FAQs - Town and Village Justices)

Opinion 16-84 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who formerly represented the judge's recent election opponent in an election law case? Does it matter whether the judge previously exercised his/her discretion in favor of recusal?

Opinion 16-14 What are a judge's obligations with respect to individuals who supported his/her election campaign in various capacities?

Opinion 15-207 May a judge preside over cases in which the judge's electoral opponent represents the county as prosecuting attorney?

Opinion 15-196 May a recently elected judge preside in cases involving an attorney who previously appeared in the judge's campaign commercial?

Opinion 15-168 May a judge preside when an attorney who served as a reference for the judge's judicial appointment appears before the judge more than two years after the appointment?

Opinion 15-55 Is disclosure required when an attorney appearing before the judge supported the judge's judicial candidacy at a judicial nominating convention nearly a decade ago?

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Conflicts - Judge's Prior Judicial Decisions or Actions

Opinion 16-16 May a judge who presided over two related civil actions preside over the losing party's subsequent malpractice action against its former counsel?

Opinion 15-195 May a Family Court judge who ordered a child protective investigation in a case preside over other contested proceedings involving the same family?

Opinion 15-228 May a judge who presides over a re-adoption proceeding involving an attorney thereafter preside in matters involving the attorney and/or his/her law firm? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 16-43 May a criminal court judge who previously presided over an ex parte search warrant application later arraign (1) a confidential informant who testified in support of the warrant and/or (2) the target of the search warrant? Is disclosure or disqualification required?

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Conflicts - Disciplinary Complaints; Lawsuits; Criticism

Complaints AGAINST the Judge

Opinion 17-17 Where an attorney has unsuccessfully sought the judge's recusal in one case, and then filed a disciplinary complaint against a judge for declining to recuse, does the judge have an ongoing conflict with the attorney's law firm mandating the judge's recusal in all cases involving that law firm?

Opinion 17-05 May a judge continue to preside in a contentious post-judgment matrimonial proceeding after a party, whom the judge previously sanctioned, has sued the judge and others involved in the proceeding for defamation?

Opinion 16-141 Where the Commission on Judicial Conduct has charged a judge with misconduct in a formal written complaint, signed and verified by the Commission's administrator (see Judiciary Law § 44[4]), based on an initial report or complaint filed by the county's District Attorney, may the judge thereafter preside in criminal matters involving the District Attorney's office? The judge notes that an assistant district attorney usually appears on behalf of the office, and there may be no personal appearance by the DA or any ADA in matters such as mail pleas or negotiated resolutions of traffic matters. The judge further notes that the Commission on Judicial Conduct has not directed that a hearing be held.

Opinion 16-126 May a judge continue presiding in a criminal trial after the defendant commences a lawsuit naming the judge in his/her "official and individual capacity" for a claimed civil rights violation? Does it matter whether the defendant also sent these legal filings to a high-ranking prosecutor?

Opinion 16-129 May a judge continue to preside in a criminal case after the defendant, defense witness(es) and/or other individuals connected with the defense have filed disciplinary complaints against the judge? When does disqualification become mandatory?

Opinion 16-11 May a judge who is a defendant in a bank's foreclosure action preside over an unrelated action in which a party has subpoenaed records from the bank, where the bank is a mere stakeholder which has not appeared or taken a position regarding the subpoena?

Opinion 15-218 Is a judge disqualified from presiding over a criminal case, merely because the District Attorney has launched a collateral attack on the judge's pretrial rulings in another forum?

Opinion 15-37 May a judge who has been publicly disciplined as a result of complaints made by the local prosecutor's office and the local public defender's office preside in matters in which attorneys from these offices appear?

Complaints BY the Judge

Opinion 16-49 How long is a judge disqualified from matters involving an attorney he/she reported to the grievance committee?

Opinion 17-71 May a judge who filed a disciplinary complaint against an assistant district attorney require the prosecutor's office to substitute a different assistant district attorney in an upcoming criminal case?

Opinion 15-117 Where a judge did not personally file a disciplinary complaint against an attorney, but instead encouraged another attorney to file the report and stated that the judge would personally follow through as necessary to ensure a disciplinary complaint was ultimately filed, may the judge preside when the reported attorney appears?

Opinion 17-14 (1) A multi-bench judge who has reported an attorney is disqualified from all matters in which the reported attorney appears, regardless of court or county, and regardless of whether the reported attorney is appearing as a public defender or a private attorney. The disqualification lasts while the disciplinary proceeding is pending and for two years after it is resolved. Remittal is not available during this period unless the grievance committee imposes public discipline or the reported attorney waives confidentiality. (2) Where the reported attorney is a part-time judge, the disqualification extends to cases in which the reported attorney has acted as a judge. (3) Where the reported attorney represents a defendant/participant in Treatment Court, the judge may not preside in the defendant/participant's case, even if the reported attorney files a waiver of appearance.

Opinion 16-146 Where a judge has filed a disciplinary complaint against the county's District Attorney, may the judge thereafter preside in criminal matters involving the District Attorney's office? The judge notes that assistant district attorneys from that office did not participate in the purported misconduct.

Opinion 15-69 What are the disqualification obligations of a court attorney referee who did not personally report an attorney's misconduct to the grievance committee but instead advised the referring judge of his/her concerns so that the referring judge could make the report?

Opinion 16-96 Where a judge has provided a negative evaluation to the Appellate Division about a doctor's work in a case before the judge, thus triggering reconsideration of the doctor's suitability for an Appellate Division panel, may the judge thereafter continue to preside in other cases in which the doctor appears? Does it make a difference that the doctor knows about the judge's comments?

Opinion 16-23 Where a judge has declined to appoint an expert whose competence the judge questions, and the expert has thereafter tried to pressure the judge into appointing him/her, may the judge preside in cases involving the expert?

 

Opinion 16-88 May a full-time quasi-judicial official preside in matters involving assistant county attorneys, or other attorneys from county-level government law offices, after he/she sues the local county government? Does it matter whether they would appear before the referee in their official or private capacities?

 

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Conflict FAQs for Town and Village Justices - Individual Who Sets the Judge's Salary or the Court's Budget; Town or Village Employees; Frequent Litigators in the Town or Village Courts

Opinion 16-81 May a town or village justice preside in matters involving an attorney who (1) is associated in the practice of law with the municipality's attorney and (2) is married to the full-time administrative assistant of a person who participates in setting the judge's salary and the court's budget?

Opinion 16-21 May a town justice preside over a bench trial, where a town board member who votes on the judge's salary is a necessary witness whose credibility the judge must evaluate?

Opinion 15-224 May a town justice continue to preside in matters involving the local village police department, after the village police chief is elected to the town board?

Opinion 16-174 What are a village justice's obligations once a local probation officer is appointed to serve on the village board? Does it make a difference if they will also be on the same slate in an upcoming election? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Judge's Election or Appointment)

Opinion 14-120 May a village justice preside in a criminal case where the defendant and the alleged victim are attorneys who practice in the village court, and the prosecutor is the town attorney for a neighboring town?

Opinion 15-16 May a village justice preside when village police officers appear in the village court?

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Conflicts - Judge's Extra-Judicial Activities

Opinion 07-155/98-31 May a judge serve on a charter review commission to review and proposed amendments to a city or county charter?  Does it matter whether the judge is a part-time or full-time judge? 

Opinion 15-223 May a judge who is co-trustee of a relative's charitable trust authorize the trust to make charitable donations to not-for-profit entities that regularly appear before the judge, such as legal services providers and agencies to which the judge may make referrals? Is disclosure or disqualification required when a recipient of the trust's charitable donations appears before the judge? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Attending Fund-Raisers; Donating to Non-Profits)

Opinion 16-22 May a judge participate in a prison ministry program where inmates sentenced by the judge may be present in the program's group sessions? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Religious Institutions)

Opinion 15-76 May a judge participate in a bar association CLE program entitled "Social Media Ethics Guidelines for Attorneys" when the panel includes law partners from various law firms? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations and Judicial Associations)

Opinion 15-26/15-44 May a judge attend (1) an annual fund-raising event for a not-for profit organization that provides services and support to victims of domestic abuse and child abuse and/or (2) a non-fund-raising breakfast organized by a consortium of domestic violence agencies to promote discussion of current issues related to domestic violence, including recent and pending domestic violence legislation?

Opinion 15-23 May a judge who teaches at a law school, but has no role in a pro bono clinical program organized as a separate legal entity from the law school, appoint the clinic and its qualified participants to fiduciary positions, and award fees as permitted by applicable rules and law?

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Conflicts - Miscellaneous

Opinion 17-44 Digest: A judge who believes a local attorney is under criminal investigation, but has no personal knowledge of any impropriety, may continue to preside in matters involving that attorney, provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 17-13 Where a judge's recusal for one attorney is specific to his/her personal assessment of that attorney's character, the judge is not disqualified from presiding in matters where that attorney's law partner appears as a part-time government attorney, provided that the judge can be fair and impartial.  

Opinion 16-175 While a judge need not separately scrutinize all pleadings to determine whether his/her client is the issuing officer, the judge must not take a guilty plea, either by mail or in person, if the client's role as issuing officer is readily available, such as in those instances where the officer's name appears on the ticket.

Opinion 16-156 A judge should not send a thank you note in response to a laudatory ex parte letter from an attorney who recently appeared before the judge.

Opinion 15-147 What is a judge's obligation on learning that he/she should have recused him/herself from a particular case, when the judge learns of this ethical mistake only after he/she had already issued his/her final decision or judgment?

Opinion 15-82 Does a previously granted remittal of disqualification remain effective if a party afterward discharges his/her attorney and proceeds pro se?

Opinion 16-26 Must a Court of Claims judge disclose or disqualify him/herself from cases involving the Attorney General's office, based solely on media efforts to link the judge and his/her spouse with a person whom the Attorney General is investigating?

Opinion 16-120 May a judge who is conflicted from presiding in a criminal defendant's Outley hearing nonetheless resume presiding over the underlying case and sentence the defendant, once the Outley hearing is concluded?

Opinion 16-70 Where a judge is currently disqualified from proceedings involving a particular government office or agency, but has a statutory obligation to administer/oversee that office as a judge, may the judge nonetheless exercise these ongoing administrative or oversight responsibilities?

Opinion 15-208 Where a judge is personally disqualified from certain cases, may he/she nonetheless permit his/her personally appointed principal law clerk to conference those cases, at the request of the judge who has been assigned to the matter?

Opinion 16-30 May a judge preside in matters involving assistant public defenders subject to the supervision of a Public Defender who, in his/her former capacity as a private attorney, had preliminarily and briefly represented the judge in a disciplinary proceeding one year ago?

Opinion 16-138 May a judge who wishes to appoint a new law clerk circulate the job notice through a local bar association, specialized bar association committees, and the attorneys who serve on those committees? May the judge ask such attorneys to circulate the job notice within their law firms? Is disclosure or disqualification required? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations and Judicial Associations)

Opinion 15-186 Where a judge offered selected attorneys the opportunity to purchase tickets to a local sporting event, and one attorney took advantage of the offer, what are the judge's obligations when the attorney appears before him/her?

Opinion 15-111 Must a judge disclose that he/she responded to a confidential request from a judicial appointments committee for comments on the character, ability, integrity, and temperament of an attorney, when the attorney thereafter appears before the judge? Is disqualification required?

Opinion 15-86 May a part-time lawyer judge preside in cases involving a lawyer who is the sibling of the judge's law firm associate?

Opinion 15-53 Is a judge disqualified from presiding in a civil action after testifying in a separate criminal proceeding, pursuant to a subpoena, about the orders and directives he/she issued in the civil action?

Opinion 15-35/15-75  May a judge who was previously a victim of domestic violence preside over cases involving domestic violence allegations?

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Business and Financial Activities; Gifts; Non-Legal Outside Employment

(22 NYCRR 100.4[D]; 100.6[B][1])

Outside Non-Legal Employment

Opinion 16-83 May a part-time judge portray a judge in a commercial film?

Opinion 16-10 May a part-time judge place classified ads indicating his/her availability to officiate marriages? (cross-listed under Solemnizing Marriages)

Opinion 16-58 May a part-time judge conduct background investigations for the United States Office of Personnel Management?

Opinion 15-181 May a part-time judge maintain concurrent employment with a private company which provides risk and threat assessments to various entities? (cf. Judicial Independence)

Opinion 16-87 May a town justice serve as the workplace ombudsman for aggrieved town employees?

Opinion 15-158 May a non-judge who is currently employed as a peace officer in a community college resign his/her peace officer status and accept a new role as a campus security officer for the same institution, after becoming a part-time judge in a nearby municipality? (cf. Judicial Independence)

Opinion 15-116 May a part-time town justice accept appointment as the town's tax collector?

Opinion 15-20 May a town justice accept concurrent employment as a County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator?

Opinion 17-42 May a part-time judge also be a full-time academic SUNY employee administering and overseeing a SUNY-hosted police cadet academy?

Opinion 16-134 May a full-time court attorney-referee work part-time as a real estate agent?

Opinion 17-46 Digest: A part-time judge may also serve as head of a county agency responsible for enforcing a particular county law, where the agency is the licensing authority for an industry and has authority to commence civil administrative proceedings but (i) is unlikely to be involved directly or indirectly in any cases in the judge's court, (ii) has no authority to prosecute legal or criminal proceedings in any court, and (iii) has no police powers or functions.

Ownership Interests in a Business

Opinion 16-80 May a full-time judge hold ownership interests in a limited liability company that owns income-producing property, along with the judge's spouse? Does it matter whether the judge holds such interests in an individual capacity or as a trustee of a beneficial trust for a family member?

Gifts

Opinion 15-122 May a judge accept the gift of a food platter from a former judge who has resumed the practice of law and is now practicing in the judge's court?

Opinion 17-24 Digest: A full-time judge who presides in a high-volume part may hold annual or semi-annual meetings with the attorneys who appear before him/her to discuss administrative issues. These meetings may not involve catered meals paid for by attorneys, but the judge may host "brown bag luncheons" to which the participants may bring their own meals.

Opinion 15-90 May a judge accept an invitation to attend a bar association's annual dinner as the guest of a law firm, where the cost of the dinner is approximately $500? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations and Judicial Associations)

Opinion 15-81 May a judge accept a bar association's gift of complimentary admission to an upcoming law-related conference for the judge and a guest, along with food and lodging expenses, where the total value of the gift is approximately $1500? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations and Judicial Associations)

Opinion 15-57 May a judge accept an invitation to attend and participate in an out-of-state conference on women and justice that is co-sponsored by a law school, a limited liability company, and a law firm? If so, may the judge accept the law school's offer to pay for the judge's accommodations?

Opinion 15-72 May a full-time judge attend a dispute mediation service's volunteer recognition dinner?

Opinion 15-12 May a judge accept free tickets and parking vouchers for a game of his/her choice from a local sports team that has not recently appeared before the judge and is not likely to do so?

Opinion 16-176 Digest: A full-time judge may not accept a collectable music album from a press photographer who regularly covers cases in the inquiring judge's courtroom.

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Practice of Law

(22 NYCRR 100.6[B]; 100.4[G]; NY Const art VI, 20[b][4].)

Part-Time Judges and JHOs

Opinion 16-167 May a town justice simultaneously serve as a federal prosecutor?

Opinion 17-36 May a town justice serve as the town attorney for another town in the same county, where there will be no prosecutorial component to that town attorney position?

Opinion 17-45 May a town justice continue to serve as County Attorney in the same county where he/she presides?

Opinion 17-02 May a part-time city court judge serve as a part-time attorney with legal aid in another county? What restrictions apply?

Opinion 16-143 Digest: (1) Where a part-time lawyer judge's law practice associate is representing a client in another court in the same county before another part-time lawyer judge, the judge may not personally participate in the representation by meeting with the client or discussing the case with opposing counsel, even if such activities will take place away from the courthouse. (2) The judge may nonetheless directly supervise a subordinate attorney who is representing the law practice's clients in such matters, provided such supervision takes place in private, without involvement of the client, opposing parties or counsel, or the court in which the matter is heard.

Opinion 16-119 May a JHO represent clients on real estate transactions and matters in Surrogate's Court in the same county where he/she serves as a JHO? When are such matters deemed "contested" under 22 NYCRR 122.10(c)? May the JHO's law firm colleagues assume the representation on contested matters once the JHO withdraws from the representation?

Opinion 15-68 May a judicial hearing officer participate in a bar association's pro bono help desk at a court from which he/she accepts judicial hearing officer assignments? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations and Judicial Associations)

Opinion 15-205 May a part-time judge serve as Corporation Counsel?

Opinion 15-09 May a part-time City Court judge concurrently serve in the non-supervisory position of full-time deputy county attorney?

Opinion 16-137 May a part-time judge accept employment as a salaried conflict defender in the county where the judge presides? If so, may the judge appear as a conflict defender before other part-time judges in the same county who are permitted to practice law?

Opinion 16-72 Where a part-time justice serves as counsel to an association of local government officials and employees, may he/she advise individual members concerning local justice court operational issues?

Opinion 16-13 May a newly appointed part-time judge continue to represent a client on cases which not only originated in the judge's court, but were previously handled by the inquiring judge's predecessor on that court, and were transferred to another local court only after the inquiring judge assumed the bench?

Opinion 16-32 May a part-time judge who presides over arraignments and other criminal cases serve as part-time in-house counsel for the local sheriff's office?

Opinion 16-63 May a part-time attorney judge's attorney tenant appear before other co-judges of the judge's court, where the judge and the tenant (a) share a fax machine and fax number which is included in their respective stationery, (b) occasionally cover court appearances for each other, and/or (c) permit the judge's receptionist to answer phone calls for the tenant? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Judge's Business and Financial Interests)

Opinion 15-194 On becoming a part-time village justice, may an attorney continue to practice law as a solo practitioner in the same county where he/she will preside?

Opinion 15-142 May a part-time town judge, who is also executor of an estate that owns real property within the town, retain counsel and petition the town for approval of the beneficiaries' requested subdivision of the property? If so, may the judge thereafter preside when assistant town attorneys appear before the court?

Opinion 17-46 Digest: A part-time judge may also serve as head of a county agency responsible for enforcing a particular county law, where the agency is the licensing authority for an industry and has authority to commence civil administrative proceedings but (i) is unlikely to be involved directly or indirectly in any cases in the judge's court, (ii) has no authority to prosecute legal or criminal proceedings in any court, and (iii) has no police powers or functions.

Full-Time Judges; Winding Down One's Law Practice; Providing Legal Advice to Family

Opinion 15-200 May a full-time judge serve in the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps?

Opinion 15-128 May a new full-time judge, whose former law partner is temporarily unavailable for medical reasons, continue to accept and deposit fees, issue checks to clients and the firm and pay expenses as necessary to wind up the law firm's affairs until the partner recovers or new counsel is hired? May the judge use law firm letterhead after assuming judicial office to explain the circumstances to judges presiding over his/her former partner's cases and to request adjournments as needed?

Opinion 17-72 May a judge interpose a pro se answer in a real estate case in which the judge and his/her siblings are named defendants?

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Judge as Litigant

Opinion 15-131 May a judge who is a party litigant make a legal argument that relies on the judge's judicial status?

Opinion 17-72 May a judge interpose a pro se answer in a real estate case in which the judge and his/her siblings are named defendants?

Opinion 15-96 May a judge receive, as part of an equitable distribution, a percentage of the future legal fees earned by his/her former spouse upon the settlement or verdict of any cases deemed part of the former spouse's law practice?  If so, what are the judge's obligations when adverse counsel from those cases appear before the judge on unrelated matters?

Opinion 15-08 Where a judge is (or recently has been) a party in a contested matrimonial action, and his/her spouse (or ex-spouse) is a private attorney, what are the judge's obligations (1) when the spouse's law firm colleagues appear before the judge on other matters; (2) when the judge's attorney or the spouse's attorney appears; and (3) when an expert who evaluated a marital asset appears?

Opinion 17-82 Digest: A full-time judge, in his/her capacity as administrator of a first-degree relative's estate, may act pro se at the closing for the estate's solely owned real property, where he/she will transfer an administrator's deed conferring ownership from the estate to the buyer, deposit the buyer's down payment into a title company's escrow account, compute and adjust routine home expenses such as taxes and utilities, and exchange checks payable by or to the estate.

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Fiduciary Activities; Appointment Powers

Sub-Topics: Serving as Fiduciary; Receiving Court Appointments | Exercise of Appointment Powers

Serving as Fiduciary; Receiving Court Appointments

(22 NYCRR 100.4[E]; 100.6[B][1]; Part 36; NY Const art VI, 20[b][4])

Opinion 17-33 May a newly elected full-time judge complete his/her service as executor of a former client’s will by signing a deed necessary to transfer title to an heir?

Opinion 17-82 Digest: A full-time judge, in his/her capacity as administrator of a first-degree relative's estate, may act pro se at the closing for the estate's solely owned real property, where he/she will transfer an administrator's deed conferring ownership from the estate to the buyer, deposit the buyer's down payment into a title company's escrow account, compute and adjust routine home expenses such as taxes and utilities, and exchange checks payable by or to the estate.

Opinion 16-164 Digest: A new full-time judge may continue to serve as a receiver in foreclosure pursuant to an appointment received before assuming the bench, provided his/her duties are ministerial in nature and completed within one year, if possible.

Opinion 15-142 May a part-time town judge, who is also executor of an estate that owns real property within the town, retain counsel and petition the town for approval of the beneficiaries' requested subdivision of the property? If so, may the judge thereafter preside when assistant town attorneys appear before the court?

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Exercise of Appointment Powers

(22 NYCRR 100.3[C][3]; Part 8; Part 36)

Opinion 16-168 May a judge appoint his/her former campaign treasurer to serve as a referee in a foreclosure action? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Judge's Election Campaign or Appointment)

Opinion 16-65 May a judge who has the duty of appointing special prosecutors appoint an attorney who is related to his/her co-judge? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Other Judges)

Opinion 15-126 May a judge appoint his/her former partners to fiduciary positions? (cf. Conflicts - Judge's Former Employment)

Opinion 15-63 May a judge who was "of counsel" to a law firm five years ago, and its tenant a decade ago, appoint a partner of that firm to a Part 36 fiduciary appointment? (cf. Conflicts - Judge's Former Employment)

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Serving as Arbitrator or Mediator

(22 NYCRR 100.4[F]; 100.6[B][1]; NY Const art VI, 20[b][4].)

Opinion 17-25 May a full-time judge serve on the tribunal of a not-for-profit entity as the representative of one of its constituent members, where the tribunal has "jurisdiction to hear and determine controversies and disputes" among various constituent members?

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Extra-Judicial Activities

(See generally 22 NYCRR 100.4.)

Sub-Topics: Speaking; Teaching; Mentoring | Art; Writing; Music | Officer; Director; Non-Legal Advisor | Governmental Committees and Commissions; Public Office or Trust | Fund-Raising; Membership Solicitation | Attending Fund-Raisers; Making Charitable Donations | Bar Associations and Judicial Associations | Religious Institutions | Law Schools | Solemnizing Marriages | Miscellaneous

Extra-Judicial Activities - Speaking; Teaching; Mentoring

Speaking

Opinion 17-12 May a full-time judge speak to not-for-profit organizations affiliated with a certain religion, including domestic and foreign parochial schools and places of worship, about his/her background and experience in becoming a judge, so as to encourage others to pursue a legal career?   If so, may the judge accept standard speaking fees and reasonable travel expenses? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Religious Institutions)

Opinion 16-147 May a town or village justice accept an invitation from a landlords’ association to participate in a panel discussion and answer questions about summary proceedings, evictions and holdover tenants?

Opinion 17-35 May a judge speak to an audience of animal control officers about court procedures in dangerous-dog and unlicensed-dog cases?

Opinion 15-113 May a judge be the introductory speaker at a Criminal Justice Services Division program focused on discouraging gun violence among probationers and parolees who have no pending charges, where the event will take place at a courthouse, and participants include prosecutors, law enforcement, the Legal Aid Society, social service providers, and community leaders?

Opinion 15-133 May a judge attend a foreign consulate's reception for its ambassador? May a judge speak at the consulate about the judge's personal experiences in becoming a jurist?

Opinion 16-15 May a full-time judge accept an honorarium for giving the "lesson for the day" at a worship service? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Religious Institutions)

Opinion 16-17 (1) May a judge acting as a leader within a religious organization (a) promote a weekend retreat and/or (b) solicit items for clothing drives, food drives and the like? (2) May a judge be a featured speaker at a religious institution's anniversary banquet? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Fund-Raising and Extra-Judicial Activities - Religious Institutions)

Opinion 16-69 May a judge serve as master of ceremonies for a not-for-profit community organization's event honoring local religious leaders and a local executive branch official, where "all the proceeds will benefit the youth program"? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Fund-Raising)

Opinion 16-05 May a full-time judge participate in non-commercial podcasts about New York legal issues, or science fiction and comic book characters and legal issues that may arise in fictional works?

Opinion 16-94 May a judge lecture on historical constitutional conventions and procedures?

Opinion 16-22 May a judge read passages from scripture at a religious service? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Religious Institutions)

Opinion 15-179 May a judge give a presentation on recognizing and reducing racial prejudice to an audience consisting exclusively of attorneys who represent a certain category of litigants in a specialized court?

Opinion 15-125 May a judge speak at an academic conference on the topic of international, federal, and state approaches to human rights issues?

Opinion 15-92(A) May a judge serve as an officer of his/her religious institution, preach sermons, make administrative announcements, and allow his/her sermons to be broadcast via live streaming on the internet? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Religious Institutions)

Cf. Opinion 16-115 May a judge permit his/her law clerk to teach a class on the Penal Law to law enforcement personnel at a local military facility? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Court Personnel)

Opinion 15-79 May a judge participate in a non-fund-raising National Day of Prayer event, lead a prayer, and be identified as a judge? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Religious Institutions)

Teaching

Opinion 17-81 May a part-time judge give a presentation on civil enforcement and other related civil matters at an annual training conference for a sheriffs association?

Opinion 16-117 May a full-time judge teach a fitness class for a not-for-profit educational, charitable or civic organization? May the judge accept the organization's standard per-session compensation for instructors?

Opinion 16-76 May a judge serve on the advisory board to an academic/clinical unit within a private law school, even though he/she refers litigants to the unit's treatment programs? If so, what limitations apply? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Law Schools)

Opinion 16-93 May a judge place flyers for a not-for-profit bar association's upcoming educational programs on a table in the back of his/her courtroom? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations)

Opinion 15-202 May a full-time judge teach at a continuing legal education program that (1) is advertised in a manner that clearly and improperly implies attorneys attending will be placed in a special position to influence the judge and (2) offers an honorarium designed to maximize the number of paying attendees?

Opinion 16-128 May a judge volunteer to serve as the judge in a mock trial, outside New York State, organized by a private law firm for the benefit of their associates and for in-house attorneys of the law firm's client?

Opinion 15-149 May a full-time judge serve as a paid, part-time adjunct professor at a private law school?

Opinion 15-93 May a judge serve as a panelist in a local college's program on perceptions and realities of the criminal justice system?

Opinion 15-76 May a judge participate in a bar association CLE program entitled "Social Media Ethics Guidelines for Attorneys" when the panel includes law partners from various law firms? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations and Judicial Associations)

Opinion 15-61 May a judge appear on a panel program to discuss a decision recently issued by the judge, when the time to appeal has not expired and an attorney who argued the case before the judge would be a fellow panelist? 

Opinion 15-23 May a judge who teaches at a law school, but has no role in a pro bono clinical program organized as a separate legal entity from the law school, appoint the clinic and its qualified participants to fiduciary positions, and award fees as permitted by applicable rules and law?

Mentoring

Opinion 16-151 May sitting judges serve as mentors to attorneys who wish to seek judicial office, as part of an official court-sponsored program to help promote diversity in the judiciary? What limitations apply?

Opinion 16-124 May a judge mentor a high school student through a not-for-profit mentorship program?

Opinion 16-34 May a full-time judge participate as one of several panelists and mentors at a commercial entity's free luncheon for young people of a particular minority group, when commercial entity has assured the judge in writing that the event is entirely philanthropic, the judge's participation will not be used for promotional purposes, and no commercial activity whatsoever will take place at the event?

Opinion 16-177 May a part-time judge volunteer with (1) a departmental grievance committee's diversion program under 22 NYCRR 1240.11 and/or (2) a local bar association's lawyer assistance committee under Judiciary Law § 499?

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Extra-Judicial Activities - Judge as Artist, Writer, Musician

Opinion 17-11 A full-time judge may perform with a non-profit orchestra and other musical groups that are not business entities and accept reasonable compensation for his/her performances, subject to certain limitations. A full-time judge may publish his/her own musical compositions and receive royalties and performance rights fees for them.

Opinion 16-06 May a full-time judge who wrote a children's book: participate in book signings; spread the news that the book has been published; give away complimentary copies of the book; tell people, on request, where the book may be purchased; permit the publisher to mention the judge's judicial status; appear in judicial robes on the book's back cover; and/or read the book at an elementary school? Do any special restrictions apply because the work is a children's book rather than a law-related book?

Opinion 15-182 May a judge who wrote and published a law-related book go on a book tour, where the judge will conduct book signings and speak at bookstores, law schools, and bar associations in New York and elsewhere, and permit copies of the book to be available for purchase at such events? May the judge permit a commercial television producer to make a television series based on the judge's book for a commercial television station? If so, may the judge serve as a host for the television series or be interviewed for the series?

Opinion 16-37 May a full-time judge enter into an option/purchase agreement with a film producer, for a screenplay the judge wrote?

Opinion 15-162 May a law clerk who serves as a SCAR Hearing Officer (1) write and publish a children's book with a commercial publisher public and accept royalties and/or (2) personally market and sell the book?

Opinion 15-141 May a full-time judge co-author a treatise on a specialized area of law and accept royalties from the sales of the book?

Opinion 14-37 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to write articles about legal procedure for quarterly publication in a local newspaper with limited circulation?

Opinion 15-17 May a judge play in a band, which usually performs without pay, at charitable events, block parties and parties for friends?

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Extra-Judicial Activities - Judge as Officer, Director, or Non-Legal Advisor of a Non-Profit

Opinion 16-179 A judge may not serve as director of an entity if that role requires him/her to personally engage in fund-raising and/or recruitment activities.

Opinion 16-161 May a full-time judge serve on the admissions committee of a country club?

Opinion 15-190 May a judge serve on the board of directors for a not-for-profit agency with a broad educational mission that includes certain traffic safety education programs to which the judge may make referrals?

Opinion 16-148 May a full-time judge serve as a director of a local not-for-profit Urban League, which seeks “[t]o provide opportunities for members of all communities in our city to have access to education, employment and a living environment that fosters mutual respect”?

Opinion 15-171 May a full-time judge serve as an officer for a not-for-profit fraternal organization, serve as a non-legal advisor to the organization on matters of parliamentary procedure, and chair the organization's scholarship committee? May a judge sell raffle tickets benefiting the organization to family members? To friends? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Fund-Raising)

Opinion 16-98 May a full-time judge serve on (1) the Executive Committee of a private not-for-profit elementary school's board of trustees and/or (2) a search committee to hire a new head of the school?

Opinion 15-219 Where a judge appears on a not-for-profit organization's regular letterhead as a board member, may the judge permit the organization to include his/her name along with other board members on the organization's fund-raising invitations? Must the listing be absolutely identical or literally reproduce the regular letterhead? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Fund-Raising)

Opinion 16-51 May a full-time judge serve on the board of a not-for-profit community economic development corporation?

Opinion 15-15 May a full-time judge serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit local development corporation?

Opinion 16-40 May a judge who is a member and officer of a specialized bar association sign the association's certificate of incorporation? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations)

Opinion 15-201 May a full-time judge who presides in a drug treatment court serve on the advisory board of a not-for-profit community action organization which educates and assists addicts and their families?

Opinion 15-229 May a judge serve as president or vice-president of a bar association? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations)

Opinion 15-213 May a judge serve as a board member and secretary for a not-for-profit charity that provides services to underprivileged children and families, where the charity does not appear in the judge's court but employs social workers who appear in another court and who meet with that court's resource coordinators from time to time?

Opinion 15-149 May a full-time judge (1) serve on the board of a private, not-for-profit school that the judge's child attends; serve on the school's audit committee; serve on the school's academic affairs committee; and/or (2) serve on the board of directors of the judge's condominium?

Opinion 15-92(A) May a judge serve as an officer of his/her religious institution, preach sermons, make administrative announcements, and allow his/her sermons to be broadcast via live streaming on the internet?

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Extra-Judicial Activities - Governmental Committees and Commissions; Public Office or Trust; Notary Public

(22 NYCRR 100.4[C][2]; NY Const art VI, 20[b][1])

Opinion 16-157 May a full-time judge serve on the board of a regional emergency medical services council?

Opinion 15-203 May a full-time judge who presides in a treatment court serve on a legislator's advisory committee on drug abuse?

Opinion 15-200 May a full-time judge serve in the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps?

Opinion 16-105 May a judge subject to article VI, section 20 of the state constitution sign a separate oath of office for a county legislature's law-related advisory board?

Opinion 15-134 May a full-time principal law clerk who is a part-time SCAR hearing officer apply for and become a notary public?

Opinion 15-123 May a part-time judge become a member of a governmental advisory committee on services for senior citizens?

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Extra-Judicial Activities - Fund-Raising; Membership Solicitation; Speaker or Guest of Honor at Fund-Raiser

Opinion 16-152 A judge may not appear in a videotaped interview on behalf of a re-entry agency, which will be shown at the agency's fund-raising event.

Opinion 15-109 May a part-time judge who is also employed full-time with a university engage in fund-raising from alumni, parents and friends of the university if such individuals reside outside New York State? 

Opinion 16-04 May a judge participate in a bar association's membership drive and recruit new attorney members with a complimentary one year membership? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations)

Opinion 16-153 (1) May a trial judge whose minor child is participating in a charitable fund-raiser personally participate in the child's fund-raising efforts by asking family, close friends, neighbors, and judicial colleagues to make pledges on the child's behalf? (2) If not, may the judge assist the child in making such solicitations by telephone or in person, by placing telephone calls or escorting the child to a neighbor's home? (3) If permitted to accompany the child, may the judge supplement or clarify the child's explanation, as needed, regarding the nature of the fund-raiser?

Opinion 16-17 (1) May a judge acting as a leader within a religious organization (a) promote a weekend retreat and/or (b) solicit items for clothing drives, food drives and the like? (2) May a judge be a featured speaker at a religious institution's anniversary banquet? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Speaking; Teaching; Mentoring and Extra-Judicial Activities - Religious Institutions)

Opinion 15-171 May a full-time judge serve as an officer for a not-for-profit fraternal organization, serve as a non-legal advisor to the organization on matters of parliamentary procedure, and chair the organization's scholarship committee? May a judge sell raffle tickets benefiting the organization to family members? To friends? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Judge as Officer, Director, or Non-Legal Advisor)

Opinion 16-69 May a judge serve as master of ceremonies for a not-for-profit community organization's event honoring local religious leaders and a local executive branch official, where "all the proceeds will benefit the youth program"? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Speaking; Teaching; Mentoring)

Opinion 16-01 May a judge who is a member of a law school reunion committee be a signatory or listed as a committee member on a letter that encourages and solicits alumni donations? Or on a letter inviting alumni to attend an upcoming law school reunion event which is not a fund-raiser? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Law Schools)

Opinion 16-136 May a sitting judge who will be retiring at the end of the year agree to be the guest of honor at a not-for-profit educational institution's fund-raising dinner to be held next year? (cross-listed under Application of Part 100)

Opinion 15-219 Where a judge appears on a not-for-profit organization's regular letterhead as a board member, may the judge permit the organization to include his/her name along with other board members on the organization's fund-raising invitations? Must the listing be absolutely identical or literally reproduce the regular letterhead? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Judge as Officer, Director, or Non-Legal Advisor)

Opinion 15-89 What are a judge's obligations on learning that his/her name was listed on the invitation to a not-for-profit organization's fundraiser, where the judge's name was listed with all other directors on the back of the invitation, but the organization's regular letterhead does not include the names of its directors?

Opinion 15-60 Once a judge has taken appropriate and effective remedial steps to mitigate his/her alma mater's use of the judge's name on invitations to the school's fund-raiser, may the judge attend the event as an ordinary attendee?

Opinion 15-154 May a judge serve as a speaker at a not-for-profit organization's annual dinner, where the judge knows that the dinner, although itself modestly priced, involves substantial, ongoing and prominent fund-raising as the attendees are strongly urged to upgrade to silver, gold, life, or corporate memberships, and are publicly recognized for making full or partial payment during the dinner?

Opinion 15-91 May a judge serve as a clothing model at a not-for-profit fund-raising luncheon/fashion show which includes raffles and a silent auction?

Opinion 15-03 May a judge chair a committee which informs members of a religious congregation of their membership fees?

Opinion 17-78 Digest: Under the circumstances, a judge who objected orally and in writing to the appearance of his/her name in a letter soliciting funds for a charity need not take any further action.

 

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Extra-Judicial Activities - Attending Fund-Raisers; Donating to Non-Profits

Opinion 16-158 May a judge attend a “Casino Night” fundraiser at his/her child’s private pre-school and participate as a player?

Opinion 15-223 (1) May a judge who is co-trustee of a relative's charitable trust authorize the trust to make charitable donations to not-for-profit entities that regularly appear before the judge, such as legal services providers and agencies to which the judge may make referrals? Is disclosure or disqualification required when a recipient of the trust's charitable donations appears before the judge? (2) May a judge as co-trustee of a charitable trust participate in authorizing donations to not-for-profit organizations that seek to influence social policy? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Miscellaneous)

Opinion 16-35 May a judge attend, as a guest, a fund-raising event held by a not-for-profit law enforcement organization? May the judge make donations to the entity?

Opinion 15-222 May a judge make a charitable donation to help establish a new mentoring program for at-risk youth, where the program is sponsored by certain county public defenders?

Opinion 15-26/15-44 May a judge attend an annual fund-raising event for a not-for profit organization that provides services and support to victims of domestic abuse and child abuse?

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Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations and Judicial Associations

Opinion 16-178 A judicial association may not submit an amicus brief to the Court of Appeals in a pending appeal to express its members' concern, as trial judges, about the practical effects of a recent Appellate Division decision that trial judges lack statutory authority to take a particular action in connection with sentencing. The judicial association and/or individual judges may instead propose changes to applicable statutes which affect sentencing procedures in their courts. However, if it is not possible to advocate for the desired statutory change without publicly commenting on a specific, identifiable case, they must wait until the case is completely resolved.

Opinion 15-198 May a judge attend a magistrates' association meeting held at a local correctional facility? (cross-listed under Judicial Independence)

Opinion 16-04 May a judge participate in a bar association's membership drive and recruit new attorney members with a complimentary one year membership? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Fund-Raising)

Opinion 16-93 May a judge place flyers for a not-for-profit bar association's upcoming educational programs on a table in the back of his/her courtroom? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Speaking; Teaching; Mentoring)

Opinion 16-40 May a judge who is a member and officer of a specialized bar association sign the association's certificate of incorporation? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Judge as Officer, Director, or Non-Legal Advisor)

Opinion 16-145 May a county Magistrates Association, at the request of a bar association and the county executive, comment on the bar association's proposed assigned counsel plan before it is implemented by the county? (cross-listed under Public Advocacy; Public Comment)

Opinion 16-138 May a judge who wishes to appoint a new law clerk circulate the job notice through a local bar association, specialized bar association committees, and the attorneys who serve on those committees? May the judge ask such attorneys to circulate the job notice within their law firms? Is disclosure or disqualification required? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Miscellaneous)

Opinion 15-229 May a judge serve as president or vice-president of a bar association? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Judges as Officer, Director, or Non-Legal Advisor)

Opinion 15-187 May a judges' association hold its annual conference at a hotel resort and casino owned by a sovereign Native American nation?

Opinion 15-129 May a part-time judge serve on a bar association's attorney grievance committee?

Opinion 15-100 May a judicial association publicly respond to a newspaper article which sets forth a local attorney's criticisms of another judge? What are the advantages and disadvantages, from a judicial ethics perspective, of various possible types of responses to public criticism? (cross-listed under Media Relations)

Opinion 15-149 May a full-time judge serve on a bar association committee?

Opinion 15-99 May a magistrates association, of which the judge is a member, tour a state police headquarters and watch the "training/process of a DWI arrest"?

 

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Extra-Judicial Activities - Religious Institutions

Opinion 17-12 May a full-time judge speak to not-for-profit organizations affiliated with a certain religion, including domestic and foreign parochial schools and places of worship, about his/her background and experience in becoming a judge, so as to encourage others to pursue a legal career?   If so, may the judge accept standard speaking fees and reasonable travel expenses? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Speaking; Teaching; Mentoring)

Opinion 17-20 May a judge serve on the nominating committee for his/her house of worship?

Opinion 16-22 (1) May a judge read passages from scripture at a religious service? (2) May a judge participate in a prison ministry program where inmates sentenced by the judge may be present in the program's group sessions? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Miscellaneous and Extra-Judicial Activities - Speaking; Teaching; Mentoring)

Opinion 16-15 May a full-time judge accept an honorarium for giving the "lesson for the day" at a worship service? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Speaking; Teaching; Mentoring)

Opinion 16-86 May a judge be ordained as a minister via an online course in order to conduct a wedding in another state? (cross-listed under Solemnizing Marriages and Extra-Judicial Activities - Religious Institutions)

Opinion 16-17 (1) May a judge acting as a leader within a religious organization (a) promote a weekend retreat and/or (b) solicit items for clothing drives, food drives and the like? (2) May a judge be a featured speaker at a religious institution's anniversary banquet? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Speaking; Teaching; Mentoring and Extra-Judicial Activities - Fund-Raising)

Opinion 15-92(A) May a judge serve as an officer of his/her religious institution, preach sermons, make administrative announcements, and allow his/her sermons to be broadcast via live streaming on the internet?

Opinion 15-79 May a judge participate in a non-fund-raising National Day of Prayer event, lead a prayer, and be identified as a judge?

Opinion 15-03 May a judge chair a committee which informs members of a religious congregation of their membership fees?

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Extra-Judicial Activities - Law Schools

Opinion 16-01 May a judge who is a member of a law school reunion committee be a signatory or listed as a committee member on a letter that encourages and solicits alumni donations? Or on a letter inviting alumni to attend an upcoming law school reunion event which is not a fund-raiser? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Fund-Raising)

Opinion 16-76 May a judge serve on the advisory board to an academic/clinical unit within a private law school, even though he/she refers litigants to the unit's treatment programs? If so, what limitations apply? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Speaking; Teaching; Mentoring) back to top

 

Solemnizing Marriages

Opinion 16-125 May a judge perform a marriage ceremony in another state?

Opinion 16-86 May a judge be ordained as a minister via an online course in order to conduct a wedding in another state? (cross-listed under Solemnizing Marriages and Extra-Judicial Activities - Religious Institutions)

Opinion 16-10 May a part-time judge place classified ads indicating his/her availability to officiate marriages? (cross-listed under Solemnizing Marriages and Business and Financial Activities)

Opinion 16-56 May a judge decline to solemnize all marriages? If so, may court staff refer the couple to another wedding officiant?

Opinion 15-97 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to accept reimbursement for the cost of lodging for two nights in connection with performing an out-of-town wedding for a good friend?

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Extra-Judicial Activities - Miscellaneous

Opinion 16-112 Digest: A judge may join the Legal and Business Professionals of ____ County, a private social organization consisting of judges, lawyers, businesspeople, and law enforcement professionals interested in making their community a better place to work and live, even though its former name and mission statement inaccurately suggested a law enforcement orientation.

Opinion 16-177 May a part-time judge volunteer with (1) a departmental grievance committee's diversion program under 22 NYCRR 1240.11 and/or (2) a local bar association's lawyer assistance committee under Judiciary Law § 499?

Opinion 07-155/98-31 May a judge serve on a charter review commission to review and proposed amendments to a city or county charter?  Does it matter whether the judge is a part-time or full-time judge?        

Opinion 17-15 May a Family Court judge send a sympathy card to the family of a decedent who was formerly the subject of juvenile delinquency proceedings before the judge?

Opinion 17-30 May part-time judges organize a free community "Law Day" event to be held at a local library or historical society where local attorneys would offer free 10-minute private consultations to the public?

Opinion 17-11 It is a judge's obligation to determine whether a lay organization for men of a particular ethnicity and religion engages in invidious discrimination.

Opinion 16-179 A judge may be a member of an all-female volunteer EMT service which responds to calls from women in a particular faith community who need emergency care, where the service was established to expand opportunities for women in the community and to preserve significant religious or cultural values of legitimate common interest to community members. However, a judge may not serve as director of the entity if that role requires him/her to personally engage in fund-raising and/or recruitment activities.

Opinion 16-157 A full-time judge (1) may informally refer at-risk youth to religious or secular educational programs, assuming he/she does not frequently preside in matters involving at-risk youth and such programs do not appear before the judge or accept court referrals; (2) may serve as a paramedic with a local volunteer ambulance corps; (3) may not serve on the board of a regional emergency medical services council; and (4) may participate in a documentary film concerning his/her volunteer activities if it is produced by a not-for-profit entity, but may not participate in a commercially produced documentary.

Opinion 17-25 May a full-time judge serve on the tribunal of a not-for-profit entity as the representative of one of its constituent members, where the tribunal has "jurisdiction to hear and determine controversies and disputes" among various constituent members?

Opinion 17-24 Digest: A full-time judge who presides in a high-volume part may hold annual or semi-annual meetings with the attorneys who appear before him/her to discuss administrative issues. These meetings may not involve catered meals paid for by attorneys, but the judge may host "brown bag luncheons" to which the participants may bring their own meals.

Opinion 15-151 May a village justice continue as a client of a salesperson whose spouse is the village prosecutor?

Opinion 15-210 May a judge be a member of the Shooters Committee on Political Education?

Opinion 15-227 May a judge whose spouse is actively involved in the not-for-profit American Israel Public Affairs Committee attend a non-political dinner at which the judge's spouse and other financial supporters will be recognized?

Opinion 15-118 May a full-time judge accept an invitation to become a member of a not-for-profit organization which has as its primary purpose the promotion of the culture of a particular religion as well as certain charitable works?

Opinion 15-104 May a judge who volunteers for a not-for-profit educational organization permit the entity to use his/her name and honorific when listing the judge as a volunteer in the entity's internal documents?

Opinion 15-103 May a judge write a review of the professional services provided by his/her divorce lawyer, on an online ratings service that displays individual reviews directly to the public?

Opinion 15-102 May a judge compete in the World Series of Poker?

Opinion 15-100 May a judicial association publicly respond to a newspaper article which sets forth a local attorney's criticisms of another judge? What are the advantages and disadvantages, from a judicial ethics perspective, of various possible types of responses to public criticism? (cross-listed under Media Relations)

Opinion 15-07 May a town judge voluntarily undertake to clear snow from the driveway of an abandoned property near his/her home as a public service?

Opinion 15-26/15-44 May a judge attend (1) an annual fund-raising event for a not-for profit organization that provides services and support to victims of domestic abuse and child abuse and/or (2) a non-fund-raising breakfast organized by a consortium of domestic violence agencies to promote discussion of current issues related to domestic violence, including recent and pending domestic violence legislation?

Opinion 17-01 May a judge be a certified soccer referee member of a private, not-for-profit referee's association, and accept compensation for refereeing games? What restrictions apply for a full-time judge?

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Attending Educational Programs

Opinion 17-04 A judge may not attend a three-day human trafficking seminar sponsored by federal prosecutorial and law enforcement agencies, where the program will focus primarily on strategies for effective prosecution.

Opinion 16-73 May a judge and his/her family attend a defensive driving program hosted by the police department exclusively for police personnel and their families and otherwise closed to the public? Does it make a difference if they would pay their own way?

Opinion 15-99 May a magistrates association, of which the judge is a member, tour a state police headquarters and watch the "training/process of a DWI arrest"?

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Political Activity

Sub-Topics: Judicial Campaigns; Unexpended Campaign Funds | Miscellaneous

Political Activity - Judicial Campaigns; Unexpended Campaign Funds

(See 22 NYCRR 100.5; 100.0[A]; 100.0[Q].)

Opinion 16-150 May two judicial candidates in a contested election send a joint mailing to voters who request an absentee ballot?

Opinion 17-60 Where a county political party met to select its 2017 candidates on February 28, but (at the time the inquiry was decided) the party chair had publicly announced only that next year's party meeting would be held "in May 2018," without further details, what date should judicial candidates in that county use to calculate the start of their 2018 window period? Must different judicial candidates in that county count back from different dates, or may they all rely on the specific date stated in Opinion 17-60?

Opinion 16-75 May two judicial candidates who are (through their respective campaign committees) hosting a joint fund-raiser permit their campaign committees to accommodate an attendee who prefers to support only one candidate?

Opinion 15-121 May a judicial candidate permit his/her campaign committee to establish Facebook connections with the campaign committees of other candidates on the same slate?

Opinion 16-07 May a judicial candidate sign a political organization's pledge that requires the candidate to support and endorse all other candidates endorsed by the organization and to consult with it on any appointments when in public office?

Opinion 15-112/15-146 May a judicial candidate (1) pay individuals for time spent circulating petitions and gathering signatures in order to put the candidate's name on the ballot or (2) pay a 50% bonus to his/her campaign manager if the candidate is elected?

Opinion 15-83 May a judicial candidate personally guarantee to PayPal and credit card issuers that he/she will use his/her personal funds to repay them for "chargebacks" for monies mistakenly or wrongfully paid to the candidate's campaign?

Opinion 16-79 May a non-judge candidate for judicial office personally distribute campaign literature that exhorts supporters "[t]o volunteer and/or donate to" the candidate?

Opinion 15-71 May a judicial candidate participate in a pro-choice or pro-life advocacy organization's interview process, answer questions during the interview, and, if offered, accept the organization's endorsement?

Opinion 16-47 May a non-judge who is seeking election to judicial office serve on a local bar association's screening panel evaluating applicants for appointment to state or federal judicial office?

Opinion 15-01 May a non-judge who is seeking election or appointment to judicial office remain employed as a police officer until he/she takes and files his/her oath of office as a judge?

Opinion 15-196 May a judicial candidate who is a law clerk film a campaign commercial depicting a simulated case conference, if his/her responsibilities include conferencing cases on behalf of a judge? If so, what limitations apply?

Opinion 16-97 Where a judge's campaign committee has made one attempt to return the unexpended campaign funds from a prior election campaign pro rata to contributors, but some checks still have not been cashed or negotiated and some mailings were returned to the campaign committee as undeliverable, must the judge direct his/her campaign committee to investigate the correct addresses of the contributors whose checks were returned as undeliverable and re-send those mailings? If not, what should be done with the remaining funds?

Opinion 16-29/16-50 When may a judicial candidate treat his/her remaining unexpended campaign funds as de minimis? What are permissible uses for such funds once the window period expires?

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Political Activity - Miscellaneous

(See 22 NYCRR 100.5.)

Opinion 17-38 (1) May a judge participate in the upcoming March for Science?  (2) May a judge (a) call a Senate Committee to express an opinion on a pending federal executive branch appointment; (b) sign a MoveOn.org petition concerning a federal executive branch appointment; and/or (c) participate in a local political rally, march or demonstration sponsored by grassroots organizations? (cross-listed under Public Advocacy or Comment)

Opinion 17-43 Is there a way for a part-time judge who wishes to run for non-judicial office to inform the local municipality in advance that he/she plans to resign from judicial office on a particular date, without triggering the “resign to run” rule? 

Opinion 16-85 May a judge engage in prohibited political activities, provided he/she takes care to do so anonymously?

Opinion 16-149 May a judge attend a free, non-partisan “meet the candidates” event, organized by a non-political community residents’ association, where all candidates for a particular office (i.e., both parties' candidates) will attend, speak and answer questions?

Opinion 16-169 May a judge circulate a petition to force a referendum on a proposed sale of a large nearby parcel of land owned by his/her local school district, where the petition does not take a position for or against the proposed sale and is not framed as support for or opposition to any legislator or political party or candidate?

Opinion 16-63 May a part-time judge publicly display on his/her office building a non-partisan banner stating "Your vote counts in ___ County"?

Opinion 16-52 May a judge make voter registration forms available at court facilities?

Opinion 16-94 May a part-time judge run for and serve as delegate to a state constitutional convention? When will the Committee answer questions concerning permissible campaign activities for a judge who wishes to become a constitutional delegate? (cross-listed under Public Advocacy or Comment)

Opinion 15-188 May a judge become involved in legislative redistricting under the facts presented?

Opinion 16-60 May a judge join an informal discussion group with politically connected people to develop detailed proposals for redistricting reform, comprehensive election and voting reforms, restructuring the legislature, changes in school funding, and other highly controversial or political matters? (cross-listed under Public Advocacy or Comment)

Opinion 15-177 Where a judge has objected to an event that was organized in the judge's name without the judge's authorization, and the event has been canceled at the judge's request, must the judge take any further action?

Opinion 15-176 May a judge reveal, discuss and explore his/her interest in receiving an interim appointment to non-judicial office with the public official who will make that decision if the position becomes vacant before the incumbent's term ends?

Opinion 15-145 May a judicial candidate who is a notary public (1) carry or pass petitions for other candidates or request petition signatures for other candidates or (2) attest that he/she witnessed signatures on petitions carried or passed by another individual?

Opinion 15-134 May a full-time principal law clerk who is a part-time SCAR hearing officer (1) run for or serve as a delegate to a political party's judicial nominating convention and/or (2) circulate nominating petitions?

Opinion 15-120 May a judge join in an advertising campaign intended to lobby political support and funding for union contract renewals for the judge's alma mater?

Opinion 15-65 What are a judge's obligations on learning that a letter he/she wrote decades ago in his/her former capacity as a non-judicial official is being anonymously circulated for partisan political purposes?

Opinion 15-62 What are a judge's obligations when the judge's spouse, who is a principal in a real estate LLC, wishes to rent a storefront to a partisan political organization?

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Performance of Judicial Duties - Plea Agreements; Traffic Diversion Programs; Assignment of Counsel; Authority or Power of Judge; Judicial Assignments

Opinion 17-34 On receiving a guilty plea by mail to a Vehicle & Traffic Law charge, may a judge send a form letter advising the defendant what his/her sentence will be if the court accepts the plea and stating that if the defendant wishes to change his/her plea to not guilty, he/she should appear in court at a specified date and time?

Opinion 15-220 If applicable law authorizes certain judges to delegate the authority to accept guilty pleas and set fines in certain matters, is it ethically permissible for such judges to delegate that authority under the applicable statutory scheme?

Opinion 16-42 May a judge sign a final decree of judicial settlement pursuant to SCPA § 2602(1)(b), following disqualification of the judge who issued the underlying decision?

Opinion 16-08 May a full-time City Court judge accept a temporary assignment as a Family Court judge?

Opinion 15-232 May a judge, on his/her own initiative and before the parties' first appearance, request and review grand jury minutes and/or discovery materials produced to the defense?

Opinion 16-68 May a judge voluntarily comply with guidelines requiring ethically impermissible conduct when deciding a defendant's eligibility for assigned counsel?

Opinion 16-91 May a town justice ask local not-for-profit organizations if they are willing to accept court placement of defendants to serve community service sentences, and thereafter provide their contact information to the alternatives-to-incarceration program's administrator? After doing so, what steps must the judge take if the judge wishes to participate in activities organized by such entities?

Opinion 16-48 Must a judge who ordered a transcript to be redacted provide an unredacted copy to counsel on request?

Opinion 15-226 May a judge order payment to a former guardian ad litem for services which pre-date the attorney's employment with the Unified Court System? Does it matter if the former guardian ad litem now serves as principal law clerk to another judge (i.e., one who is not presiding in the case)?

Opinion 16-09 May a judge send a letter to defendants who plead guilty by mail advising them sua sponte that they may change their plea to "not guilty" and either conference the matter with the prosecutor or negotiate a reduced plea?

Opinion 15-152 May a judge accept a plea conditioned on a defendant writing an essay about traffic safety?

Opinion 15-34 May a judge approve a plea agreement which requires a defendant to participate in a district attorney's traffic ticket diversion program, when the program involves a non-refundable application fee?

Opinion 16-113 May a judge "participate" in a traffic diversion program where defendants are charged a fee to participate, and the judge is concerned the fee may violate Vehicle & Traffic Law §1804?

Opinion 16-92 May a part-time judge participate in a District Attorney's traffic diversion program by (1) adjourning a defendant's case for 60 days at the DA's request so the defendant can take part in the program and then (2) dismissing the charges at the DA's request after successful completion, where defendants are charged a fee to participate in the diversion program?

Opinion 15-230 May a judge require defendants seeking re-sentencing under CPL 420.10 to complete a form requesting the same information the judge would otherwise request orally in court?

Opinion 15-127 May judges delegate to their court clerks the authority to impose a pre-determined fine for traffic infractions, by means of a standing court order with a fixed schedule of fines?

Opinion 15-85 May a judge sua sponte review a defendant's driving history before accepting or rejecting a proposed plea agreement? If so, must the judge disclose the contents of the driving history to the parties and counsel? (cross-listed under Ex Parte Communications)

Opinion 15-56 May a judge post the procedure for resolving a traffic ticket on the Unified Court System's website?

Opinion 15-50 May a judge, in order to collect fines or surcharges he/she imposed on a defendant for parking violations, contact another court to ask that payment be made a condition of any disposition of the defendant's case in the other court?

Opinion 15-47 May a judge require, as a condition of joining a treatment court program, that the defendant must agree to participate in an exercise program? If so, may the judge thereafter attend or participate in the exercise program together with treatment court participants? (cross-listed under Ex Parte Communications)

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Ex Parte Communications

(22 NYCRR 100.3[B][6])

Opinion 17-15 May a Family Court judge send a sympathy card to the family of a decedent who was formerly the subject of juvenile delinquency proceedings before the judge?

Opinion 16-140 May a judge consider a defendant's written form application for assigned counsel ex parte and make a determination of financial eligibility on an ex parte basis, where the form focuses solely on the defendant's financial information and does not invite substantive communications? What factors distinguish Opinion 16-68 and Opinion 16-140?

Opinion 16-156 A judge should not send a thank you note in response to a laudatory ex parte letter from an attorney who recently appeared before the judge.

Opinion 15-209 May a part-time judge consult ex parte with court personnel who staff the City, Town and Village Courts Resource Center? Must there be notice and/or disclosure to the parties in the case?

Opinion 15-178 In a court where judges repeatedly receive attempted ex parte communications from elected officials on behalf of their constituents, what steps should the judges take?

Opinion 16-155 What steps should a judge take on learning that his/her second-degree relative has, in his/her capacity as a member of a religious institution, commenced an informal counseling relationship with a defendant who is appearing before the judge in a long-running high-profile criminal matter? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Judge's Relatives)

Opinion 15-148 May a judge who formerly represented a particular category of litigants in the specialized court where he/she now sits remain on the private e-mail list for a former colleague's summaries, commentary, and compilations of recent cases? (cross-listed under Conflicts - Miscellaneous)

Opinion 15-106 Must a judge disclose that he/she engaged in a brief and non-substantive conversation with an attorney at a bar association function, while the attorney had a case pending before the judge? 

Opinion 15-85 May a judge sua sponte review a defendant's driving history before accepting or rejecting a proposed plea agreement? If so, must the judge disclose the contents of the driving history to the parties and counsel? (cross-listed under Performance of Judicial Duties)

Opinion 15-47 May a judge require, as a condition of joining a treatment court program, that the defendant must agree to participate in an exercise program? If so, may the judge thereafter attend or participate in the exercise program together with treatment court participants? (cross-listed under Performance of Judicial Duties)

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Judicial Independence - Separation of Powers; Assisting/Cooperating with Prosecutors or Law Enforcement

(See e.g. 22 NYCRR 100.0[R]-[S])

Opinion 17-73 May a village justice acquiesce in a proposed merger of the clerical offices of the village court and the village executive branch?

Opinion 17-32 May a town judge permit his/her court clerks to certify that they will abide by the town ethics code?

Opinion 17-04 "Digest: A judge may not attend a three-day human trafficking seminar sponsored by federal prosecutorial and law enforcement agencies, where the program will focus primarily on strategies for effective prosecution."

Opinion 16-167 May a town justice simultaneously serve as a federal prosecutor?

Opinion 15-197(B) "Digest: (1) A town or village justice may not assist the District Attorney by contacting each prosecution witness, complainant and police officer concerning their upcoming court appearances. (2) Opinion 09-173 is hereby amended so that justice courts should not notify such witnesses for the District Attorney, even if the court is willing to do the same for defendants and defense attorneys on request."

Opinion 16-101"Digest: The effective date of Opinion 15-197(B) is September 1, 2016."

Opinion 15-197(A) May a town justice assist prosecutors by (a) arranging meetings with the prosecutor's prospective witnesses and/or (b) instructing such witnesses to bring lab reports or other possible evidentiary materials to court?

Opinion 15-198 May a judge attend a magistrates' association meeting held at a local correctional facility? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Bar Associations)

Opinion 16-55 May a town judge sign a statement (1) certifying his/her "responsibility to comply with the guidelines stated in" the town ethics code and (2) acknowledging "that any willful violation of these guidelines may be cause for suspension or dismissal from Town employment or removal from Town office"?

Opinion 16-73 May a judge and his/her family attend a defensive driving program hosted by the police department exclusively for police personnel and their families and otherwise closed to the public? Does it make a difference if they would pay their own way?

Opinion 15-165 May a judge provide the court's internal weekly case summaries to a newspaper for publication? (cross-listed under Public Advocacy or Comment and Media Relations)

Opinion 15-30 May a judge affirmatively assist a newspaper in improving the accuracy of its reporting by regularly supplying factual information to the newspaper about cases in the judge's court? (cross-listed under Media Relations)

Opinion 16-02 May a judge partner with, or commit the court to partner with, entities applying for a grant to create a domestic violence advocacy program? May the judge or the court participate in the ongoing administration of the resulting advocacy program? (cross-listed under Public Advocacy or Comment)

Opinion 15-217 May a judge fax a copy of the court's weekly calendar to the Department of Homeland Security for their review and determination in what defendants may be potential risks or illegal aliens, for the office to pursue?

Opinion 15-215 (1) May a village justice provide the local police department with a monthly report cataloging the number of arrests, parking tickets, traffic tickets and calls for service involving various law enforcement entities? (2) May a village justice provide the village trustees with a monthly report indicating the number of cases that have been opened during that period and the total number of cases that remain pending at the end of each month?

Opinion 15-184 May a judge attend a meeting with the local STOP DWI Coordinator and the Sheriff's Department to discuss methods of collecting unpaid fines from defendants sentenced on DWI convictions?

Opinion 15-56 May a judge post the procedure for resolving a traffic ticket on the Unified Court System's website?

Opinion 15-50 May a judge, in order to collect fines or surcharges he/she imposed on a defendant for parking violations, contact another court to ask that payment be made a condition of any disposition of the defendant's case in the other court?

Opinion 17-36 May a town justice serve as the town attorney for another town in the same county, where there will be no prosecutorial component to that town attorney position?

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Application of Part 100

(See 22 NYCRR 100.6[A].)

Opinion 16-63 When does a non-judge who has been appointed to judicial office become subject to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct?

Opinion 16-136 May a sitting judge who will be retiring at the end of the year agree to be the guest of honor at a not-for-profit educational institution's fund-raising dinner to be held next year? (cross-listed under Extra-Judicial Activities - Fund-Raising)

Opinion 15-01 May a non-judge who is seeking election or appointment to judicial office remain employed as a police officer until he/she takes and files his/her oath of office as a judge?

Opinion 17-37 Digest: The Committee declines to answer hypothetical questions.

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New Judges

Opinion 15-128 May a new full-time judge, whose former law partner is temporarily unavailable for medical reasons, continue to accept and deposit fees, issue checks to clients and the firm and pay expenses as necessary to wind up the law firm's affairs until the partner recovers or new counsel is hired? May the judge use law firm letterhead after assuming judicial office to explain the circumstances to judges presiding over his/her former partner's cases and to request adjournments as needed?

Opinion 15-126 (1) May a full-time judge request and accept fees for work he/she performed before assuming the bench? (2) May a judge preside in matters where his/her former law partner appears as counsel? (3) May a judge appoint his/her former partners to fiduciary positions? (4) May a judge who previously served as counsel to the public administrator preside over cases in which the public administrator appears?

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Media Relations

Opinion 15-24 May a judge agree to be profiled in a local, bimonthly publication and featured on its cover where the resulting article would address the judge's legal career, current judicial position, personal life and possibly prior public service?

Opinion 13-31 May a judge agree to be interviewed for an article in the local weekly newspaper about the judge's background as a police officer, prosecutor and judge?

Opinion 14-37 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to write articles about legal procedure for quarterly publication in a local newspaper with limited circulation?

Opinion 15-165 May a judge provide the court's internal weekly case summaries to a newspaper for publication? (cross-listed under Judicial Independence)

Opinion 15-100 May a judicial association publicly respond to a newspaper article which sets forth a local attorney's criticisms of another judge? What are the advantages and disadvantages, from a judicial ethics perspective, of various possible types of responses to public criticism?

Opinion 15-30 May a judge affirmatively assist a newspaper in improving the accuracy of its reporting by regularly supplying factual information to the newspaper about cases in the judge's court?

Opinion 16-26 Must a Court of Claims judge disclose or disqualify him/herself from cases involving the Attorney General's office, based solely on media efforts to link the judge and his/her spouse with a person whom the Attorney General is investigating?

Opinion 15-182 May a judge who wrote and published a law-related book permit a commercial television producer to make a television series based on the judge's book for a commercial television station? If so, may the judge serve as a host for the television series or be interviewed for the series?

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Uncategorized

Opinion 17-15 May a Family Court judge send a sympathy card to the family of a decedent who was formerly the subject of juvenile delinquency proceedings before the judge?

Opinion 16-156 A judge should not send a thank you note in response to a laudatory ex parte letter from an attorney who recently appeared before the judge.

Opinion 15-136 May a judge permit a student to make an audiovisual recording of a court proceeding?

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Formal and Informal Ethics Inquiries

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