April 5, 1990
Digest: A part-time judge who practices law may share office space with an assistant public defender and still preside over cases involving the public defender’s office, although the judge, and any other judge of same court, is disqualified from participating in any case in which the particular office-sharing public defender is involved.
Rules: 22 NYCRR § 100.5 (f).
An attorney, who also is a part-time judge, has shared office space with an assistant public defender for ten years. The two have no formal practice association, and the attorney will not appear before the judge. The judge asks whether it is permissible to continue to share office space with the assistant public defender, in view of the fact that other members of the public defender’s office will appear in the court.
Section 100.5 (f) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides that “No judge who is permitted to practice law shall permit his or her partners or associates to practice law in the court in which he or she is a judge. . . .”
The law office relationship here disqualifies the judge, or any judge of the same court, from presiding over any matter in which the office-sharing assistant public defender appears. The judge is not precluded, however, from presiding over matters which are handled by other members of the public defender’s office. Since the attorney who is the assistant public defender will not appear in the judge’s court, either before that judge or another judge of the court, there is no ethical objection to the inquiring judge’s sharing offices with that assistant public defender.