April 5, 1990
Digest: A judge should not assist a private business firm by referring cases to it or by sending the firm's brochures to attorneys, but may make the court's public files available for search as the court would do for any other member of the public.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2(c).
A full-time judge asks whether the judge may permit the clerk of the court to inform a private business firm, which traces missing heirs, about cases involving missing heirs, and whether the judge or the clerk may send the firm's brochures to attorneys handling such cases.
Section 100.2(c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides that “No judge shall lend the prestige of his or her office to advance the private interests of others...” Referring cases to a private business firm and mailing that firm's brochures to attorneys would impermissibly advance that firm's private interests. The judge should instruct the clerk to do no more or no less for this business firm than the clerk would do for any other member of the public requesting the right to examine the public files of the court.