Opinion: 98-82

September 23, 1998


Dear Judge

         This is in response to your inquiry (98-82) in which you present two situations for consideration by the Committee. One involved your actions as a lawyer in withdrawing as counsel in a matter in the Family Court that originally had been before the co-justice of your court. The other involves a matter before you in which you recused yourself after becoming aware of a potential conflict of interest and which may now be the subject of some official inquiry. You ask whether you acted properly in both situations.

         The Committee is not in a position to provide you with an opinion as to either matter, both of which involve actions already taken by you and one of which is apparently the subject of a pending investigation. The Committee’s opinions are intended to provide guidance with respect to pending or anticipated situations that give rise to ethical questions. They are not intended to validate or pass judgment on prior conduct of a judge; and this is especially so if such conduct is presently being scrutinized by another body. Accordingly, we are not able to issue an opinion as requested. However, with respect to your first inquiry and, given the possibility of recurrence, we alert you to Judiciary Law §16, which provides, in part, that a judge shall not serve as an attorney “in an action, claim, matter, motion or proceeding originating in [the judge’s] court.”

                                                                     Very truly yours,


                                                                     George D. Marlow

                                                                     Dutchess County Court Judge



                                                                     Thomas P. Flaherty

                                                                     Justice of the Supreme Court