December 7, 2006
Digest: The spouse of a village police investigator may serve as full-time village court clerk provided that the clerk is insulated from any case in which the spouse is involved.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2; Opinions 06-89; 00-123 (Vol. XIX).
Two part-time justices serving in the same court wish to promote a current part-time village court clerk to the newly vacant position of full-time court clerk. The clerk’s spouse is an investigator for the village police department.
This Committee previously determined that it was ethically permissible for this individual to serve as part-time file clerk, provided that the individual is insulated from any case in which the spouse is involved. 22 NYCRR 100.2; Opinion 06-89; see also Opinion 00-123 (Vol. XIX).
The inquiring justices assert that in the position of full-time court clerk, the individual’s duties will remain essentially the same as those now performed. The justices also state that potential conflicts have thus far been satisfactorily avoided by insulating the individual from any cases involving the spouse and by assigning these cases to other clerks in the office.
In view of the inquirers’ representations that the change in the employment status of this court clerk from part-time to full-time presents no additional risk of conflict, the Committee concludes that there is no ethical prohibition preventing the hiring of this individual as full-time court clerk, provided that he/she is insulated from any case in which the spouse is involved.