Opinion: 00-26

March 9, 2000

Digest: A newly elected full-time judge may sell his or her shares of stock in an abstract company to other shareholder-lawyers on an installment payment basis.

Rule:  22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1), (F);
           Opinion 95-123 (Vol. XIII).


            A newly elected full-time City Court judge who is a stockholder in an abstract company must now sell his or her shares in the company. The shareholders are required to be attorneys. Two existing shareholders have offered to purchase the judge's share on an installment basis, which would involve execution of a promissory note. The prospective purchasers are attorneys who practice in the City Court. The judge asks whether an installment arrangement is permissible.

            In Opinion 95-123 (Vol. XIII), the Committee stated that a judge may receive fixed severance payments over a period of years from his/her former law firm that became due by reason of his/her becoming a judge and thus being required to leave the firm. The Committee perceives no ethical distinction between that situation and the instant inquiry.

            However, given the continuing financial obligations of the purchasing attorneys to the judge, there must be recusal by the judge should they appear before the judge. Such recusal is subject to remittal. 22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1), (F).