Opinion 87-15 (c)


January 28, 1988

 

Topic:          Acceptance of an invitation to be a guest at Bar Association dinner extended by attorneys to judges; future appearances by host attorney before guest judge

 

Digest:         Acceptance by judges of certain Bar Association dinner invitations from attorneys is permissible but disclosure should be made if the event was close in time to a court appearance by the host attorney or law firm.

 

Rules:          22 NYCRR §§100.2(a), 100.2(b), 100.2(c), 100.3(c)[1], 100.5(c)[3][i], 100.5(c)[3][ii], 100.5(c)[3][iii]; Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2(A) and (B)


Opinion:


         This opinion completes this Committee’s response to the inquiry dated November 24, 1987 consisting of four separate questions. The questions all involve the nature and extent of limits upon a judge’s acceptance of a Bar Association dinner invitation extended by an attorney and the resulting obligation, if any, upon a judge thereafter to disqualify himself or herself should the host lawyer appear before the guest judge.


         The remaining questions to be answered are as follows:


         c(1). May a Justice accept an invitation and be a guest of an attorney at a Bar Association Dinner?


         c(2). Under the foregoing circumstances, would the lawyer be prohibited from practicing before the Justice?


         The Committee responds to each of the two questions as follows:


         c(1). The general principle allowing a judge to accept such an invitation may be found at 22 NYCRR §100.5(c)[3][i] . However, such invitations should always be declined if extended in the midst of a trial or other contested proceeding whenever the host attorney or law firm is an active participant. 22 NYCRR §100.2(a), (b), (c).


         c(2). While this Committee does not believe that disqualification is automatically necessary at all times following the acceptance of the type of invitations referred to hereinabove and which are permitted by 22 NYCRR §100.5(c)[3][i], there should be disclosure if the event was in the reasonably recent past. It is believed that routine disclosure is sufficient because it gives all parties an opportunity to request disqualification if deemed advisable under the particular circumstances involved. 22 NYCRR §100.3(c)[1], §100.1, and §100.2(a), (b), (c). See also, Code of Judicial Conduct, Canons 1 and 2.


         This Opinion is advisory only and is not binding upon either the Office of Court Administration or the Commission on Judicial Conduct.