October 29, 2007
This responds to your inquiry (07-117) about your obligation to recuse if you are elected town justice, if an attorney, who has provided you with an office mailing address and clerical services for the past several years, appears before you. You state that this arrangement has been fairly informal, and that you have paid this attorney a minimal sum in consideration.
The Committee previously has concluded that a judge who had a frequent, professional, ad hoc working relationship with one of the attorneys appearing before the judge should recuse him/herself for two years after the relationship ends, unless all parties consent to the judge presiding. Thereafter, the judge should disclose the relationship and seriously consider recusal upon request of one of the parties. Opinion 91-120. You should follow these same guidelines, if, upon your election as a town justice, the attorney who has provided the services you describe appears in your court.
We enclose a copy of Opinion 91-120 for your convenience.