September 5, 1996
Digest: A full-time judge may complete the ministerial function of executing the referee’s deed and related papers arising out of a determination which was made by the judge in his/her capacity as a referee prior to the time the judge assumed the bench.
Rules: New York State Constitution, Art. VI, Sec. 20(b)(4); 22 NYCRR 100.4(E) and (G); Matter of Intemann, 73 N.Y. 2d 580 (1989)
Prior to becoming a full-time judge, the inquiring judge served as a referee in a foreclosure involving real property. All services as referee were performed prior to the time the judge assumed the bench with the exception of the execution of the referee’s deed and related papers necessary to accomplish the transfer of the title to the real property in question. These papers have now been sent to the judge for signature. The judge asks whether he/she may sign these papers now that he/she has assumed the bench. Compensation for all services as referee was received by the judge prior to taking office.
A full-time judge may not practice law and therefore may not complete unfinished legal work after assuming the bench. New York State Constitution, Article VI, §20(b)(4), 22 NYCRR 100.4(E) and (G), Matter of Intemann, 73 N.Y.2d 580 (1989). In the instant case, however, the judge served as a referee in a foreclosure. Appointment to such a position does not require admission to the New York State bar and therefore would not necessarily constitute the practice of law. In addition, the remaining tasks in question are merely ministerial, administrative functions.
It is therefore the opinion of the Committee that a full-time judge may now complete the ministerial function of executing the referee’s deed and related papers necessary to accomplish the transfer of title of real property arising out of services rendered as a referee, prior to the time the judge assumed the bench.