Joint Opinion 94-93/94-107
November 15, 1994
Digest: A judge may not permit an attorney to practice before the court if the attorney is associated with a co-judge of the court who is permitted to practice law, where the association consists of sharing office space or secretarial services, or rental of space, or where there is a public perception of a continuing professional relationship between the co-judge and the attorney.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.5(f)
Two separate inquiries have been made to the Committee involving the practice of law in the court where each judge sits, by attorneys who appear to have an association with the inquiring judge's co-judge. The question in each instance is whether such practice is permitted.
In 94-93, the inquirer and the co-judge are both part-time judges of a court of limited jurisdiction and both practice law. The inquirer informs the Committee that the co-judge and the attorney in question had practiced as a partnership which has recently been terminated. However, following the dissolution, the former partner rented space in the same premises to the judge, advertised under the partnership name, and displayed a prominent sign in front of the office bearing both names.
In 94-107, the inquirer is a full-time judge of a court of limited jurisdiction, whose co-judge is a part-time judge permitted to practice law. The part-time judge shares office space and secretarial services with the attorney in question.
At issue is Rule 100.5(f) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator which, in pertinent part, reads as follows:
No judge who is permitted to practice law shall permit his or her partners or associates to practice law in the court in which he or she is a judge. No judge who is permitted to practice law shall permit the practice of law in his or her court by the law partners or associates of another judge of the same court who is permitted to practice law.
The Committee is of the opinion that in both instances, practice by the respective attorneys in the courts involved is not permissible.
In 94-93, on the facts stated, it would appear that there has not been such a clear separation between the co-judge and the former partner indicating that they no longer are associates. Certainly, on the facts presented, it does not appear to the public that the two no longer are associated. We do not exclude the possibility that other facts not known to us may change the result.
Similarly, with respect to 94-107, the sharing of space and secretarial services results in an inference of association that invokes the prohibition provided for in Rule 100.5(f).