June 7, 1990
Digest: A presiding judge should not address a retired judge, who is appearing in court as a practicing attorney, as "judge" or "your honor".
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.2.
A presiding judge who, on occasion, has had a retired judge appear in the courtroom as counsel, asks what the proper form of address should be for the retired judge.
Section 100.2(a) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts states, in part, “A judge shall ... conduct himself or herself at all times in a manner that promotes confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary.” Section 100.2(c) states “nor shall any judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence him or her....”
Historically, retired judges have been allowed to keep their titles and are addressed as “judge” or “'your honor” as a sign of respect. However, calling an attorney “judge” during the course of a proceeding creates the appearance of impropriety or favoritism, particularly for lay persons, who may feel disadvantaged if their lawyer is not also a retired judge. If a presiding judge feels uneasy or disrespectful by using the name of the retired judge who is now practicing law, the judge may use the term “counselor.” The retired judge, who now practices law, should not be addressed as “judge” or “your honor” when appearing in the courtroom.