September 9, 2014
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
This responds to your inquiry (14-105) asking whether you may continue to preside over a criminal case, given that the defendant, who identifies him/herself as a member of the Sovereign Citizens group, has commenced a lawsuit against you and other public officials and agencies. You have noted that the defendant is seeking, among other things, a federal order removing you from the criminal case that is currently pending before you.
Neither Judiciary Law § 14 nor Section 100.3(E)(1) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct mandates disqualification under these circumstances. Accordingly, the Committee has previously advised that a judge need not exercise recusal where one of the litigants in a proceeding pending before the judge has commenced an action against the judge. Indeed, any rule requiring automatic recusal under such circumstances could enable unsuccessful or disgruntled litigants to engage in judge shopping. Thus, as long as you believe you can be fair and impartial, you may continue to preside over the criminal matter.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 13-41 and 88-54 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)