November 20, 2015
This responds to your inquiry (15-191) asking whether you must exercise recusal when attorneys from the firm where your niece or nephew is an associate appear before you.
The Committee previously advised, assuming the judge can be fair and impartial, it is not ethically improper for a judge to preside in cases where partners or associates of the judge’s nephew’s law firm appear before the judge, provided the nephew has had no personal involvement in the matter (see Opinion 98-85). Furthermore, there is no affirmative duty to disclose the familial relationship when another attorney from your niece or nephew’s firm appears.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 14-147 and 98-85, which address this matter.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)