June 9, 2006
This is in response to your inquiry (06-89), in which you ask whether there is any ethical issue presented in hiring the spouse of an investigator for the [ ] Village Police as a part-time file clerk, to help your full-time clerks with their duties. You have stated that the part-time file clerk will be paid by the Town but will come into contact with mail from the Village Court, as the court staff for the Town and Village courts share duties.
In Opinion 01-108 (Vol. XX), this Committee advised that the spouse of a Village police officer may serve as a part-time clerk for the Village Court provided that the clerk is insulated from any case in which the officer has been involved. Similarly, in Opinion 00-123 (Vol. XIX), the Committee determined that the town could hire the spouse of the town’s animal control officer to serve as part-time court clerk, provided that clerk remains insulated from cases in which the clerk’s spouse is a complainant. In each case, the Committee concluded that the mere hiring of the employee did not create an appearance of impropriety. 22 NYCRR 100.2.
Accordingly, this Committee finds no judicial ethical prohibition preventing the spouse of the investigator for the Village Police from serving as part-time clerk of the Village Court, provided that the clerk is insulated from any case in which the clerk’s spouse has been involved.