October 23, 1990
Digest: A judge, whose law clerk is in a legal partnership with an attorney who acts as assigned counsel in the judge’s court, need not recuse himself or herself in matters involving the attorney, but should disclose the relationship to the parties and obtain their consent as to whether or not the judge should preside over the matter, and the judge must completely insulate the law clerk from involvement in the matter.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.3(c) and (d).
A full-time judge seeks advice concerning an attorney who acts as assigned counsel in the judge’s court, and who is also in a legal partnership with the judge’s part-time law clerk.
This committee has previously addressed this issue in Opinion 90-33. The judge need not disqualify himself or herself, provided the judge is able to impartially preside over the matter (See, Opinion 88-140, and Opinion #548 of the Committee of Professional Ethics of the New York State Bar Association). However, the judge must disclose the relationship to the parties, and obtain their consent. Further, the judge must completely insulate the law clerk from any involvement in the matter.