June 18, 1992
Digest: A judge need not disqualify himself or herself from a case where a councilman attempted unsuccessfully to speak privately with the judge on behalf of a party in the matter, but should notify both parties about the meeting and must use discretion about disqualification if either party objects.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.3 ( c )
A judge asks if the judge should disqualify himself or herself from a custody case, where a city councilman attempted to discuss the custody case privately with the judge, who immediately closed the subject.
Section 100.3 ( c ) (1) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator requires that a judge disqualify himself or herself where the judge’s “ impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Thus, if the judge believes he or she can still be impartial in the custody case, the judge may preside. The judge, however, should notify the attorneys for both sides about the meeting, and if any party objects, the judge will have to use his or her judgment, depending on the circumstances, as to whether the judge should disqualify himself or herself.