March 19, 2012
This responds to your inquiry (12-41) asking whether it is ethically permissible to continue to commence or defend civil actions as a self represented litigant in various justice courts in the county where you both practice law and preside.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not prohibit a judge from representing him/herself in any court having jurisdiction over the legal matter. Therefore, you may bring or defend an action, pro se, in any court.
Your further question regarding what action, if any, a sitting justice before whom you appear pro se is ethically obligated to take is one that only the sitting judge may pose to this Committee. Therefore, the Committee must decline to address it.
Enclosed for your convenience are Opinions 96-40, 90-103, and 90-11 regarding your inquiry.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)