March 14, 1988
Topic: Disclosure by criminal court judge of prior involvement in programs related to DWI prevention and alcoholism treatment.
Digest: A part-time criminal court judge is not required to disclose his educational or treatment activities, concerning alcoholism and substance abuse, when presiding over DWI cases.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.3; Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2
A part-time local criminal court judge asks whether he must disclose to all parties in DWI cases that, as a high school teacher, he
(a) was founder and former advisor to a youth group known as Students Against Drunk Driving
(b) teaches students in his health class about alcohol abuse and treatment
(c) has counseled troubled students who have drug and alcohol abuse problems and
(d) was injured by an intoxicated driver while he was a college student.
There is no rule which requires or suggests that disqualification be considered because of any of the above-enumerated circumstances. While the judge is most often in the best position to decide whether disqualification is appropriate, the rules do not require disclosure of the judge's involvement in items (a) and (d) as they both occurred prior to the judge's assumption of office.
As for (b) and (c), those activities carry no obligation of disclosure if the judge sincerely believes he will be able to decide DWI cases with complete impartiality notwithstanding such activities.
This Opinion is advisory only and is not binding upon either the Office of Court Administration or the Commission on Judicial Conduct.