May 8, 2014
This responds to your inquiry (14-57) asking whether you may ask the clerk of a village justice court to assign all cases in which you represent a client to the non-lawyer acting village justice. As you are an attorney, you are not permitted to appear before the lawyer-judge who presides in the village court.
A part-time judge who is permitted to practice law (a "lawyer-judge") may not appear before another lawyer-judge who is permitted to practice law and who presides in the same county (see 22 NYCRR 100.6[B]). However, the Committee has also advised that a lawyer-judge may practice law in another court within the same county where both a lawyer-judge and a non-lawyer judge preside, as long as his/her case is assigned at the outset to the non-lawyer judge and he/she will never appear in the case before the lawyer-judge (Opinion 08-178).
The Committee also has advised that a part-time lawyer-judge may ask that a case be assigned to a judge before whom the part-time lawyer-judge may appear, if the request is made before the matter has been assigned to any judge (Opinion 09-06). In addition, a full-time city court judge may direct a city court clerk to assign all cases in which a party is represented by a lawyer-judge to a full-time judge in the court and thereafter ensure that the part-time judge appearing on the case never appears before any of the part-time city court judges (Opinion 08-132).
Therefore, you are permitted to ask the lawyer-judge who presides in the village court to direct the court clerk to assign all cases in which you represent a client in the village court to the acting village justice who is not a lawyer.
You also ask whether your partners and/or associates may appear in the village justice court on your behalf before either the lawyer or non-lawyer Judge. The Committee has previously advised that this too is permissible (Opinion 10-94).
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 10-94, 09-06, 08-178 and 08-132 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)