March 22, 2006
This responds to your inquiry (05-113) asking whether an attorney may rent an office suite from a landlord who is also a non-lawyer judge. Essentially, your inquiry raises the ethics question of whether the attorney may continue to appear before you if he/she is your tenant.
The Advisory Committee has previously stated that if an attorney is likely to appear before a judge with whom there is a landlord-tenant relationship, the continuation of that relationship should be avoided. See, 22 NYCRR 100.4(D)(1)(c); Opinions 94-20 (Vol. XII); 89-07 (Vol III). We enclose the cited opinions for your consideration. Accordingly, we advise that, if you maintain this relationship, you must recuse yourself whenever this attorney appears before you. 22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1).