April 11, 2011
This responds to your inquiry (11-08) asking whether you have an obligation to report your co-judge for conduct you believe to be ethics violations and abuses of power.
A judge must uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary (see 22 NYCRR 100.1), must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his/her 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]). Therefore, a judge who receives information indicating a substantial likelihood that another judge has committed a substantial violation of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct must take appropriate action. This Committee has consistently advised that the judge who learns of potential misconduct must determine for him/herself whether another judge’s conduct is a substantial violation. However, on occasion, the Committee has determined that there is no question that, if proven, certain conduct is so egregious that it constitutes a substantial violation of the Rules and implicates a judge’s fitness to continue in office. The Committee has therefore advised the inquiring judge of his/her affirmative duty to report the misconduct to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
In the Committee’s view, based on all of the allegations of misconduct provided in your inquiry, which, if proven, implicate your co-judge’s fitness to continue in office, you must report these allegations to the Commission on Judicial Conduct. This is the only appropriate action to be taken under these particular circumstances.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 10-14; 09-190 and 08-146 which address this issue.