Digest: A judge may not over the objection of a party preside over a case involving a not-for-profit property owners’ association of which the judge is a member.
Rules: 22 NYCRR § 100.2, 100.3 ( c)(iii); Judiciary Law § 14.
A part-time judge, who owns a lot in a development and is a member of the not-for-profit property owners’ association there, asks whether the judge is disqualified from hearing a case involving another property owner and the association over the objection of one of the parties.
Section 100.3 ( c)(iii) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator requires that a judge disqualify himself or herself where the judge “has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding . . . .” Similarly, section 14 of the Judiciary Law states that a judge shall not take part in any matter in which the judge is interested; and that a judge who owns stock or other securities of a corporate litigant is not disqualified provided that the parties waive any claim of disqualification. Here one of the parties objects. Section 100.2 of the Rules requires judges to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
As the judge is a member of the property owners’ corporation, which is a party to the proceeding before the judge, the judge should disqualify himself or herself.