March 9, 1995
Digest: A part-time City Court judge should not accept appointment as in-house counsel to the local housing authority even if eviction cases are assigned to the other City Court judge and such cases are handled by a special counsel retained by the housing authority.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.3(C)
A part-time judge asks "whether it would be proper for me to be appointed the In-house Counsel to the local Housing Authority and also serve as one of two City Court Judges." The judge suggests that there would be no conflict of interest provided that the Housing Authority "contracts with another attorney to handle its evictions in [the] City Court," and the eviction cases are assigned to the other City Court judge. As in-house counsel, the inquirer would not participate in eviction cases "once they have been transferred to the attorney handling the eviction cases retained by the Housing Authority."
In the opinion of the Committee, the inquirer should not accept the appointment as in-house counsel under the arrangements suggested. First, the judge's judicial service would, of necessity, require excessive recusals. Second, as in-house counsel the judge would be participating in the handling of eviction cases until a particular case is transferred to the special counsel. Third, the judge's dual official positions as counsel to a local governmental agency that appears in the judge's court, and as a judge of that court, create an appearance of impropriety. Accordingly, under the circumstances presented, the judge should not serve as in-house counsel to the local Housing Authority.