March 7, 2002
Digest: A judge should not issue orders that require publication of foreclosure notices in a newspaper that employs the judge's son as an advertising salesman.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2(B); 100.3(C)(3).
A judge has been in the practice of ordering publication of foreclosure notices in a newspaper that is distributed throughout a geographic area populated predominantly by members of a particular racial group. The judge indicates that the newspaper is the only reliable publication serving this area. The judge asks whether it is ethically permissible to continue using this newspaper for publication of foreclosure notices in view of the fact that the judge's son works for the newspaper as an advertising salesman.
Section 100.2(B) of the Rules
Governing Judicial Conduct provides that "A judge shall not allow family,
social, political or other relationships to influence the judge's judicial
conduct or judgment." 22 NYCRR 100.2(B). In addition, section 100.3(C)(3),
of the Rules requires a judge to avoid favoritism or nepotism. 22 NYCRR
100.3(C)(3). In our view, the force of such ethical imperatives is not
diminished by the fact that the newspaper in question may be the only reliable
publication serving the residents of a particular geographic location.
Accordingly, the judge should avoid using the newspaper for publication
of foreclosure notices. Continuing to do so would, in our opinion, create
an appearance of impropriety in violation of section 100.2(B) of the Rules.