Opinion 89-71

May 25, 1989


Topic:          Propriety of acting village justice initiating a personal action in the small claims part of a town court where he is known by and knows both judges.


Digest:         An acting village justice may initiate an action on a personal claim in the small claims part of the town court having jurisdiction thereof, notwithstanding the fact that he is known to and knows both judges of that court.


Rule:            22 NYCRR Part 100


         An acting village justice who seeks to enforce a claim against the insurer of the group dental plan of which he is a member asks whether he may initiate suit to enforce that claim in the small claims part of the town court having jurisdiction, where he knows and is known to both judges of that court, who are also members of the County Magistrates' Association of which the inquiring judge is a member.

         There is no provision in either the Chief Administrator’s Rules of Judicial Conduct or in the Canons of Judicial Conduct which prohibits a judge from bringing suit on a personal claim in the court having jurisdiction over that claim.

         Since there is no proscription against the justice exercising the right which every individual has to seek redress of legal claims in the court system, the justice should be free to do so.

         While the inquiring justice may institute the claim, the determination of any possible recusal by the justices presiding in that court is one which each of the justices involved must make individually in light of the relevant rules governing disqualification. This, however, is not an ethical concern of the justice who commences the claim.