September 12, 1991
Digest: A judge should recuse himself or herself in a case where one of the attorneys has accepted an offer to serve as the judge’s law assistant.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.3(c).
A judge asks whether recusal is required where an attorney, appearing in a case before the judge, has accepted the judge’s offer to serve as the judge’s law assistant.
Section 100.3(c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator requires that a judge “disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which his or her impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” In this case, the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, where the judge has hired one of the attorneys who soon will be serving as the judge’s law assistant.
In future cases, after the new law assistant begins work, the judge need not recuse himself or herself, but the law assistant should not be assigned to work on any matters in which the firm in which she previously was an associate is involved, and the judge should disclose to all parties the law assistant’s former association with that firm.