September 12, 1991
Digest: A judge may inquire as to any possible conflict in appointing counsel and may inform the defendant of the information obtained, and take appropriate action if there is a conflict.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.2(a)
A judge asks whether the judge can advise defendants of the public defender’s candidacy for district attorney. The judge states that the judge assigns the public defender to defend criminal cases and believes that there may be a possible conflict of interest created by the public defender’s candidacy for district attorney.
Section 100.2(a) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator states that a judge “shall conduct himself or herself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” There is no ethical objection to a judge’s inquiring as to any possible conflict in appointing the public defender as counsel and informing the defendant of the information thus obtained, and taking appropriate action if there is a conflict.
This Committee, however, does not pass on the issue of whether the judge has a legal duty to make such inquiry.