June 10, 1993
Digest: A judge need not disqualify himself or herself from a case in which the defendant's attorneys previously worked for a law firm that represented an association of which the judge was president prior to ascending the bench, provided that the judge fully discloses the relationship, all parties consent to the judge's presiding, and the judge believes that he or she can be impartial.
Rule: 22 NYCRR §100.3(c)(1)
A full-time judge inquires whether a judge must disqualify himself or herself from presiding over a case in which the defendant's attorneys previously worked for a law firm that represented an association of which the judge was president.
The inquiring judge was president of the association until December 31, 1989, and ascended to the bench on January 1, 1990. One of the defendant's attorneys represented the association until 1986, when the attorney left the firm, and in connection with that representation, had an ongoing relationship with the inquiring judge. The judge does not state whether the other attorney, who left the firm in 1991, and who has primary responsibility for the case, had anything to do with the representation of the association while at the firm.
Section 100.3(c)(1) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides that “a judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which his or her impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Here, over three years have expired since the judge, even in a representative capacity, has had any relationship with the firm of attorneys representing the association.
It is the opinion of this Committee that the judge need not disqualify himself or herself from this case, provided that there has been full disclosure and all the parties consent to the judge’s presiding and provided that the judge believes he or she can be impartial.