September 18, 1990
Digest: A part-time village judge, who also is the town attorney, may not represent the town in any courts in the county before judges who are permitted to practice law, and may not preside over cases brought by police officers employed by the town.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§100.31(c)(1); 100.5(f)
A part-time judge of a village court in the town where the judge is also town attorney, inquires whether it is permissible to represent the town in court.
Section 100.5(f) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides that “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.”
Accordingly, the judge may not practice law, even as town attorney, in any court in the county presided over by a judge who is permitted to practice law.
The judge also asks whether, in cases brought in the village court involving police officers employed by the town, the judge should disclose the connection with the town, and let the parties determine whether the judge should be disqualified.
Section 100.3(c) of the Rules requires that judges disqualify themselves in proceedings where their impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Here, as the judge is also the town attorney for the town which employs the police officers, the judge’s impartiality could be questioned. Thus, the judge should be disqualified in any case involving the town police department, and may not preside over the case, even if all parties consent.