January 29, 2016
This responds to your inquiry (15-221) asking if the time in which you must disclose that former partners left your law firm and formerly represented the local District Attorney on certain civil matters is limited. You indicate your ex-partners left the firm over four years ago.
For two years after the representation is fully concluded and all fees are paid, a judge is disqualified when a client of his/her law firm appears in court, subject to remittal of disqualification on the record by all parties and their counsel following full disclosure. However, because the two-year period has elapsed, and under all the circumstances, the Committee believes it is within your discretion whether to disclose that your former law firm’s colleagues represented a client who is currently before you as a litigant.
In exercising discretion as to whether to disclose after the two-year period has elapsed, you should consider such factors as “the amount of time elapsed since the last representation, the nature and duration of the representation, the nature of the instant proceeding, and whether there are any special circumstances creating a likely appearance of impropriety (Opinion 01-71; accord 08-133).
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 15-51; 10-87; 08-133; and 01-71; and 97-85, which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)