March 12, 2015
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
This responds to your inquiry (15-22) asking whether you are obligated to take any action with respect to conduct by an attorney who is running for judicial office. You state the attorney made an improper political contribution in violation of 22 NYCRR 100.5.
A judge who receives information indicating a substantial likelihood that a lawyer has committed a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct must take appropriate action (see NYCRR 100.3[D]). However, the Committee has previously advised that a judge who learns of an attorney’s possible misconduct must him/herself determine, based on the information received: 1) whether there is a substantial likelihood that the attorney engaged in alleged misconduct; and 2) whether such conduct was a substantial violation of the Rules. If both elements are satisfied the judge must take “appropriate action.”
Enclosed, for your convenience are Opinions 10-122 and 10-85 both of which may assist you to decide the action you will take. If, after reading these opinions, you have further questions, please feel free to contact the Committee again by phone or by regular mail.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)