January 30, 2014
Digest: A judge may, to the extent permitted by law, amend his/her prior order to correct an error or omission that has been brought to the judge’s attention and may send the amended order to all parties entitled to a copy of the order, along with an appropriate cover letter.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.2(A); 100.2(C).
The inquiring judge states that he/she had considered certain legal issues and made certain factual findings in deciding several matters, but “by virtue of a drafting error” the judge failed to mention these issues and findings in the written orders. The entity that sought the relief granted in the orders has advised the judge that it is under scrutiny for its actions. The judge now asks whether he/she may, at the entity’s request, provide the entity with a letter for the entity’s use “explaining that these particular findings were, in fact, made by me” and provide the entity with “corrected Orders which set forth more completely the decision-making process I actually engaged in.”
A judge must always avoid even the appearance of impropriety (see 22 NYCRR 100.2) and must always act to promote public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity and impartiality (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). A judge must not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others or convey or permit others to convey that they are in a special position to influence the judge (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[C]).
In the Committee’s view, the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not preclude a judge from correcting an error in his/her previously issued order(s) as permitted by law. The propriety of this conduct is not affected by whether the error was initially brought to the judge’s attention by a party or through other means.
The Committee therefore concludes that, under the facts presented, the judge may, to the extent permitted by law, amend the prior orders to address an error or omission that has been brought to the judge’s attention and may thereafter send the amended orders to all parties entitled to copies thereof, along with an appropriate cover letter.