July 15, 1988
The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, at its meetings of May 9, 1988, and June 13, 1988, considered your letter of April 20, 1988, requesting clarification of our previous Joint Opinion 88-17(a)-88-25 (copy attached).
With respect to question III of your inquiry, Joint Opinion 88-17(a)-88-25 recommended that a lawyer-justice should “refrain from advising a party or appearing in any court representing a party in any matter which was initiated in the court in which he presides as judge, whether or not he personally participated therein.” The rationale, of course, is that a city, town or village court is a single court, and if the matter was initiated before a second judge or justice of that court, it has been initiated in the first judge’s court, there being only one court, even if there are two justices and two courtrooms in that court.
By analogy, the Committee believes that you may not represent a client in a another court in the same county initiated before a judge who is permitted to practice law, even if it later is transferred to the second judge of the same court who is not permitted to practice law, because the case would have been initiated in a court presided over by a judge who is permitted to practice law. 22 NYCRR 100.5(f).
You also inquire whether your partners or associates may represent a client under these circumstances. That question is answered in the affirmative by the final sentence of section 100.5(f) which provides: “A judge may permit the practice of law in his or her court by the partners or associates of a judge of a court in another town, village or city who is permitted to practice law.”
As for question VII, the Committee is of the opinion that you need not disqualify yourself in cases involving crimes committed at a store where you shop, unless special circumstances militate otherwise.
Ths Opinion is advisory only and does not bind the Commission on Judicial Conduct or the Office of Court Administration.
Very truly yours,
Samuel J. Silverman