February 21, 1989
This is in response to your letter of January 3, 1989, in which you inquire whether you should disqualify yourself in a case involving the violation of a town ordinance, when the matter concerning the issuance of the citation had been discussed previously at a town board meeting which you attended. The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics considered this matter at its meeting of January 12, 1989.
The Committee pointed out that section 100.3 ( c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator, which governs the disqualification of judges, and states that “a judge should disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which his or her impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including, circumstances where (i) the judge has . . . personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding.” Assuming you have no personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts, the Rule contains no per se ethical prohibition against a town justice hearing this case under the circumstances set forth. However, you may wish to disqualify yourself according to your conscience or discretion. This Opinion does not address the propriety of town justices attending town board meetings.