Opinion: 97-07

January 23, 1997







Digest:  The judges of a Family Court are not disqualified from presiding over matters in which a party is represented by an attorney who is dating the Court Attorney. The judges should disclose the relationship on the record, obtain the consent of the parties to the judges' continued participation, and insulate the Court Attorney from any involvement in those matters.
 

Rules:  22 NYCRR 100.3(E) and (F);
            Opinions: 94-34, 93-132, 93-38,
            93-21, 90-146, 90-33, 88-140.
 
 

Opinion:

            Two judges of a Family Court ask if they are disqualified from presiding over matters in which a party is represented by an attorney who is dating the Court Attorney.

            The judges have been disclosing the Court Attorney's relationship on the record, and obtaining the consent of the parties to the judges' continued participation in the proceeding. Steps are also taken to insure that the Court Attorney is insulated from any participation in which a party is represented by the attorney's office.

            The judges need not disqualify themselves from presiding over these matters. 22 NYCRR 100.3(E). The procedure that they have put into place to address this issue, including disclosure on the record, obtaining the written consent of the parties, deciding any motions for disqualification and insulating the Court Attorney from participation in these matters, is appropriate and consistent with the rules and prior opinions of this Committee. 22 NYCRR 100.3 (E) and (F); Opinions 94-34, 93-132, 93-38, 93-21, 90-146, 90-133, 88-140.