January 12, 1989
Topic: May a part-time judge who is a sole practitioner carry on an active collection practice?
Digest: A part-time judge may carry on a collection practice within certain limitations.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.5(f) ; 100.2(a) ; Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2A.
The Committee is asked whether a part-time judge may carry on an active collection practice which constitutes 25% of his private law practice. As an attorney, he institutes any required collection litigation in County or Supreme court or in local courts where the judges are non-lawyers.
Section 100.5 (f) and the Rules of the Chief Administrator [22 NYCRR 100.5(f)] provides in pertinent part:
A judge who is permitted to practice law shall, nevertheless, not practice law in the court in which he or she is a judge, whether elected or appointed, nor shall a judge practice law in any other court in the county in which his or her court is located which is presided over by a judge who is permitted to practice law.
The Code of Judicial Conduct under the article entitled “Compliance With The Code of Judicial Conduct” provides in subdivision A(2) that a part-time judge “should not practice law in the court on which he serves or in any court subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the court on which he serves, or act as a lawyer in a proceeding in which he has served as a judge or in any other proceeding related thereto.”
Within these limitations we see no objection to a part-time judge carrying on an active collection practice provided that he takes all possible precautions not to lend the prestige of his judicial office to his law practice and that he conducts any litigation in his county in County or Supreme court or in a local justice court where the judges are not permitted to practice law.
However, in all cases he must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety and must conduct himself in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary (22 NYCRR 100.2[a]; Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2A). Accordingly, he must disassociate his collection practice from the fact that he is a judge, and should not use the title of judge, either orally or in writing in connection with his collection practice, including not answering the telephone as judge.