Opinion 95-157

January 25, 1996



Digest:         A part-time judge’s law firm may represent the Deputy Sheriff’s union in another county exclusively on labor law issues without creating a conflict of interest for the judge.


Rule:            22 NYCRR 100.6(B) (2) (3)


         A part-time judge/lawyer who is one of the principals of a four-member professional corporation inquires whether there are any ethical implications in the judge’s judicial role if the judge’s law firm represents a deputy sheriffs’ union of a different county, exclusively in “Taylor Law labor related issues... and grievance arbitration, before the American Arbitration Association pursuant to the terms and condition of a collective bargaining agreement.

         Based upon the nature of the legal work described, there appears to be no reasonable possibility that the union’s legal matters, or the civil or criminal cases involving the deputies in their official capacity, will be litigated in the judge’s court. Therefore, neither the union nor any of its members are ever likely to appear as parties or witnesses in the judge’s court. Consequently, there is no reason for the judge to be disqualified from any case involving either local deputy sheriffs or any other law enforcement officials who do not belong to the court-of-county client/union. This is so whether the judge or the other members of the judge’s law firm represent the union in the aforesaid labor law matters.

         In the event the union-member-deputies appear in the judge’s court, either in an official or a personal capacity, unrelated to the union’s business, there should be full disclosure by the judge who should then preside only if all parties to the action consent.