March 12, 2009
Digest: A full-time judge may serve as legal guardian for his/her parent.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.0(I); 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.4(E)(1); Joint Opinion 90-95/90-113/90-115 (Vol. VI).
Before assuming the bench, a recently-elected, full-time judge was appointed his/her parent’s legal guardian, and now asks whether it is ethically appropriate to continue in that capacity.
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 full-time judge is permitted to serve in a fiduciary capacity for a member of the judge’s family (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[E]; 22 NYCRR 100.0[I]); Joint Opinion 90-95/90-113/90-115 [Vol. VI]). Therefore, the inquiring judge may continue to serve as legal guardian for his/her parent.