April 28, 1994
Digest: As long as a judge believes that he or she can remain impartial, the judge need not recuse himself or herself from a proceeding merely because an attorney participating therein accuses the judge of misconduct in a letter addressed to the judge, the Administrative Judge, opposing counsel, and the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Rules: Judiciary Law §14, 22 NYCRR 100.3(c). Opinion: 91-51, Vol. VII
A judge asks whether the judge must recuse himself or herself from presiding over a litigation in which an attorney participating therein accused the judge of misconduct in a letter addressed to the judge, the Administrative Judge, opposing counsel, and the Commission on Judicial Conduct. The judge asks whether this letter alone provides a basis for recusal.
To allow an attorney to file a letter critical of the judge, send the judge a copy of it, and then assert that the judge’s knowledge of the letter requires disqualification would encourage impermissible judge-shopping. Neither statutory nor regulatory law requires recusal in such circumstances (see Judiciary Law §14, 22 NYCRR 100.3[c]). Thus, the judge may preside as long as the judge believes that he or she can remain impartial. That matter is left to the judge’s conscience and discretion, (see Opinion 91-51, Vol. VII; see also generally, C. Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics, §17.5, pp. 993-94 ).