June 6, 2014
This responds to your inquiry (14-44) asking if it is ethically permissible for you to hold concurrent positions as an investigator for the county Department of Social Services (DSS) and as a town justice within the county. You state the majority of cases from DSS are heard in the Village or Family Court and that if a case from DSS were before you in town court, you would “exercise recusal.”
This Committee previously advised that a town or village justice may also work as an investigator for a county agency, subject to certain limitations. For example, a judge cannot hold positions with peace officer functions or that are otherwise incompatible with judicial office. In addition, the judge is disqualified from presiding when a DSS attorney for whom the judge is currently providing investigative services appears in the judge’s court and for two years after the investigative services are completed.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 09-238; 01-87; 99-80; 95-68 and 92-63 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)