April 19, 2007
Digest: A judge may sign a search warrant application submitted by a law enforcement officer who is the deputy court clerk’s step-child and may preside over cases involving any warrants issued in response thereto, provided the judge insulates that deputy clerk from any cases involving his/her step-child.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2; Opinions 07-40; 06-163.
A justice asks whether he/she may sign search warrant applications made by a law enforcement officer who also is the step-child of the deputy court clerk serving in the justice’s part.
In the past, the Committee has considered what approach a judge should take where a court clerk’s relative has some involvement in a matter before the judge. We have concluded that a village police investigator’s spouse may serve as a full-time village court clerk, provided the justice insulates that clerk from cases involving the clerk’s spouse. Opinion 06-163. The Committee also has advised that the parent of a District Attorney’s investigator may serve as the village court clerk, if the justice insulates that clerk from cases involving the latter’s child. Opinion 07-40. In neither case did the Committee require the justice to disclose or to recuse him/herself from proceedings involving the court clerk’s family member. We instead only
required insulation of the clerk from cases involving the latter’s relative - a measure sufficient to avoid an appearance of impropriety. 22 NYCRR 100.2.
Thus, in the present inquiry, the judge may sign search warrant applications submitted by the deputy court clerk’s step-child who is a law enforcement officer, and the justice may preside over cases involving any warrants issued in response thereto. The justice must, however, insulate the deputy court clerk from any cases involving his/her step-child.