March 9, 1995
Digest: A judge may appoint a former client as a referee provided the appointee is fully qualified
Rules: 22 NYCRR 36.1; 36.2(a); 100.3(b)(4)
A full-time judge inquires whether it would be permissible to appoint as a referee an attorney who was a client of the judge some four years before the judge went on the bench.
Rule 100.3(b)(4) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides in part that:
A judge shall exercise the power of appointment only on the basis of merit, avoiding favoritism. A judge shall not appoint or vote for the appointment of any person as a member of his or her staff or that of the court of which the judge is a member, or as an appointee in a judicial proceeding, who is a relative within the sixth degree of relationship of either the judge or the judge's spouse.
The fact that the appointee is a former client of the judge would not act as a disqualifying factor, provided the appointment is based on merit.
In the event the appointment involves a position specified in Rule 36.1 of the Rules of the Chief Judge, the appointment should be made from a list of applicants established by the Chief Administrator of the Courts pursuant to section 36.2(a) of the Rule.