December 11, 1997
A Supreme Court Justice may allow a secretary to provide transcription
and typing services, on non-court time, to law firms in the area, provided
that the attorneys of any firm that utilizes the secretary's services do
not regularly appear before the judge and the secretary performs no services
in connection with any pending matter before the judge. The judge should
exercise recusal whenever any attorney of a firm that utilizes the typing
services of the secretary appears before the judge.
22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1);
A secretary to a Supreme Court Justice seeks the judge's permission to start a business in his/her spare, non-court time. The business would provide transcription and other typing services to law firms in the area. The inquiring judge has no personal objection to the secretary's planned venture but seeks an opinion of this Committee concerning the propriety of allowing the secretary to go forward with the implementation of the business.
In Opinion 97-51 the Committee held that a Family Court Judge may allow a confidential secretary to work part-time for an attorney provided that the attorney does not regularly appear before the judge and the secretary performs no services in connection with any pending matter before the judge. In the event the attorney does appear before the judge, the Committee advised that the judge should exercise recusal.
Similarly, in the instant situation, the judge may allow the secretary to provide typing services to law firms in the area under the same conditions as those articulated in Opinion 97-51. However, since the secretary may be working for multi-attorney law firms, the judge must exercise recusal whenever any partner or associate of a firm that utilizes the typing services of the secretary appears before the judge. 22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1).
Finally, the Committee notes that this opinion addresses only the issue of judicial ethics and does not address any issue of potential conflict with court duties on the part of the secretary as a Unified Court System employee. Accordingly, the opinion is not intended to resolve any administrative issues that may be present.