Opinion 88-158

January 12, 1989


Topic:          Recusal of County Court Judge in criminal case where the victim’s parent is a local town justice.


Digest:         No per se ethical requirements prohibit the judge's hearing the case; the judge should determine the recusal motion according to his/her conscience and discretion.


Rule:            22 NYCRR 100.3(c)


         A County Court judge in a “small rural county” inquires whether he/she should recuse himself/herself as the judge in a criminal homicide case where the defendant's attorney has moved for the judge's disqualification because the decedent's parent (a non-lawyer) is a local town justice in the same county. The County Court judge knows the local town justice but is not socially friendly with him/her, though he/she has met the town justice on several occasions.

         Section 100.3(c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts, which governs the disqualification of judges, contains no per se ethical prohibition against the judge's hearing this matter and the Committee sees none; nor does the Committee think there would be an appearance of impropriety if the judge hears the matter. The judge, however, should determine this recusal motion according to his/her conscience and discretion.