Digest: A Supreme court justice who owns tax free municipal bonds issued by the City of New York and various authorities need not recuse himself or herself from presiding over negligence actions commenced against the City or the authorities.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.3( c)(3)(iv)
A Supreme court justice, who sits within the City of New York and who owns tax free bonds issued by the City and by several governmental authorities and agencies, asks the Committee whether it is necessary for a justice in these circumstances to recuse himself or herself from all negligence actions brought against these governmental entities.
Section 100.3 ( c)(3)(iv) of the Judicial Conduct Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts ([2 NYCRR 100.3 ( c)(3)(iv)], describing a “financial interest” that would occasion disqualification by a judge, provides:
( iv) ownership of government securities is a “financial interest” in the issuer only if the outcome could substantially affect the value of the securities.
It is extremely unlikely that any negligence judgment that the justice would render would so affect the City of New York’s financial status or the financial status of any Authority or agency whose bonds are owned by the justice, that the value of the securities owned by the justice would be affected substantially.
Therefore, it is the Committee’s opinion that the justice does not possess the kind of “financial interest” in the subject matter of these cases, or in the governmental entities which are parties to these cases, that would require the justice’s disqualification. A judge or justice need not disqualify himself or herself from sitting on such cases in these circumstances.