February 9, 2015
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
This responds to your inquiry (14-172) asking if you may preside in cases involving the municipality where you preside, and specifically, building and zoning violations when you served as the municipal attorney immediately prior to assuming the bench, and your responsibilities included prosecuting building and zoning violations.
The Committee previously has advised that a judge who served as a high ranking county attorney for a particular county agency is not required to disqualify him/herself from all county cases (see Opinion 13-157). Rather, the judge should not preside over cases involving the county, its departments or agencies, which were pending at the time the county employed the judge (see id.). In addition, the judge must disqualify him/herself from any cases in which the judge was personally involved or served as the attorney of record, and remittal of disqualification is not available (see id.).
Similarly, you may not preside in any cases involving the municipality you served as municipal attorney that were pending at the time of your employment, and you must disqualify yourself from any cases in which you were personally involved or served as the attorney of record (see Opinions 09-139; 14-07).
Enclosed for your convenience are Opinions 14-07, 13-157 and 09-139.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)