June 3 - 4, 2009
Digest: A part-time judge who practices law may represent another part-time judge who presides in a different court in a civil legal matter.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.6(B)(2); Opinion 00-46 (Vol. XIX).
A part-time lawyer-judge who practices law asks whether he/she may provide legal services pro bono to another part-time judge in a legal matter involving the other judge’s municipality. The issues in the matter involve the other judge’s court, court clerks, and the municipal council. The inquiring judge and the other judge do not preside in the same municipality.
A judge must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all the judge’s activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.2) and must act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). A part-time lawyer judge is permitted to practice law, though not in his/her own court or in another court in the same county where he/she presides that is presided over by a judge who also is permitted to practice law (see 22 NYCRR 100.6[B]).
The Committee previously has advised that a part-time lawyer judge may represent another judge in a matter pending before the Commission on Judicial Conduct where the 2 judges preside in different courts (see Opinion 00-46 [Vol. XIX]). In the Committee’s view, there was no impropriety or appearance of impropriety in the lawyer judge’s conduct.
Similarly, given the facts presented, the Committee sees no inherent impropriety or appearance of impropriety should the inquiring judge represent another part-time judge who presides in a different court in a civil legal matter (see 22 NYCRR 100.2).