Opinion: 98-110
October 22, 1998
Digest:    A part-time judge who is permitted to practice law, or members of the judge's firm, may commence an action in the judge's court for legal fees owed to the firm, but must immediately move to transfer the case to another court.

Rule:    22 NYCRR 100.6(B)(2) and (3);
            CPLR 325(g).


            A part-time judge inquires whether it is ethically permissible to represent the judge's law firm in a suit for fees owed to the firm before the other judge in the same court, and if not, whether another member of the firm may do so.

            The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a part-time judge from practicing law in the court in which the judge serves. 22 NYCRR 100.6(B)(2). The Rules also prohibit another judge on that court from allowing the partners or associates of the other judge to practice law in that court. 22 NYCRR 100.6(B)(3).

            If possible, such a law suit should be commenced in a court other than the judge's court. However, if that is not possible, access to the courts for a redress of grievances will not be denied by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. Therefore, the judge or members of the judge's law firm may commence the action in the judge's court, but must immediately make a motion in the County Court to transfer the case to another local court within the county. See CPLR 325(g). Beyond these initial submissions, it would be improper for the judge or the judge's partners and associates to participate any further in the prosecution of the matter in the judge's court. It would also be improper for the other judges on that judge's court (whether those judges are permitted to practice law or not) to allow any member of that firm to prosecute the matter beyond initial commencement and motion to transfer.