April 16, 2015
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
This responds to your inquiry (15-55) asking whether you must disclose that you had previously asked an attorney, who is currently appearing before you, to support your judicial candidacy at a judicial nominating convention nearly a decade ago. You have stated that the attorney’s opposing counsel is arguing that you should disqualify yourself.
The Committee has previously advised that only “active” conduct in support of a judicial campaign requires recusal. “Active conduct” typically involves a leadership role in the candidate’s campaign committee, such as campaign manager, campaign coordinator, finance chair or treasurer. Where the conduct is more than minimal, but less than “active,” a judge should disclose the nature of the attorney’s involvement in the election campaign for two years after the election but retains the discretion whether to recuse. You indicate the attorney held no leadership position nor any other position in your campaign. In fact, you state you are unaware if the attorney actually supported you at the convention.
Here, with minimal involvement, if any, on the part of the attorney, and a decade has elapsed since the campaign. Under these facts, you were not required to disclose that you solicited this attorney to support your candidacy at the convention. Also, without any other ground for disqualification and assuming you can be fair and impartial, the matter of recusal at this juncture is solely within your discretion.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 12-164, 11-64; 07-24; and 94-86 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)