Opinion 96-113

February 3,1997

Dear Judge: 

         This is in response to your inquiry (96-113) in which you ask whether you are required to recuse yourself in two matters in which the county department which employs your spouse is a party. You had originally advised the attorneys of your spouse’s employment and there was consent to your participation. Since then your spouse’s position in the department has changed, and his/her new appointment has been approved by the county legislature, as is now required. Counsel were informed of the change and the legislative approval and there are now two requests for your recusal.

         In 1993, you informed the Committee that your spouse was commencing employment with the county and asked the general question of whether you should disqualify yourself in all cases involving the county. In Opinion 93-131, the Committee responded, in part, as follows:


It is the opinion of this Committee that section 100.3 [now §100.3(E)(1)] of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct does not require the judge to disqualify himself or herself from all cases involving the county merely because the judge’s spouse is employed by the county. However, the judge should disqualify himself or herself from any case in which his or her spouse has any personal involvement.

         In response to your present inquiry, the Committee adheres to the views expressed in Opinion 93-131.

         The Committee further notes that, in the present instance, its opinion is based solely on the facts as stated in the inquiry and is restricted to a consideration of the matter solely from the stand point of judicial ethics. It is not privy to any assertions of fact that may be set forth in any pending application, and its opinion is not intended to be determinative of any legal or factual issues that may be raised by such an application.


Very truly yours,


Thomas P. Flaherty