January 2, 2014
This responds to your inquiry (13-104) regarding your ethical obligations when attorneys from the law firm of your law clerk’s relative’s spouse appear before you. You indicate that you do not preside over any cases involving your law clerk’s relative’s spouse.
The Committee has previously determined that a judge, whose law clerk’s relative’s spouse is related within the fourth degree of relationship (see 22 NYCRR 100.0[C]) to an attorney who practices in the judge’s court, need not recuse him/herself when those attorneys appears, but should disclose the relationship to all parties and their attorneys and insulate the law clerk from participation in the case.
Similarly, when your law clerk’s fourth degree relative’s spouse’s partners or associates appear before you, you should disclose the relationship to all parties and their attorneys and insulate your law clerk from the case. In the Committee’s view, the fact that your law clerk’s relative’s spouse will likely benefit financially from any fees his/her spouse or colleagues earn from such cases warrants such action.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 13-26 and 11-99 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)