Opinion: 00-87

September 14, 2000

Digest:  A judge need not disqualify himself or herself or make any disclosure where the attorney-spouse of a former law clerk appears before the judge.

Rule:  22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1);
           Opinion 90-33 (Vol. V).


            A judge inquires whether the judge may preside in cases where the attorney-spouse of the judge's former law clerk appears before the judge. The former law clerk is not associated with the spouse's law firm and, during the law clerk's employment with the judge, the spouse did not appear before the judge.

            A judge must disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge's impartiality may reasonably be questioned. 22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1). In Opinion 90-33 (Vol. V), this Committee concluded that, while disqualification is not required where the attorney-sister of a judge's law clerk appears before the judge, the judge should reveal the relationship to all parties and obtain their consent to the judge's continued participation in the case. That is, given the close connection between a judge and his/her law clerk, both in terms of work performed and public perception, the judge's impartiality, in that situation, might reasonably be questioned. Here, however, the connection having been severed by virtue of the fact that the law clerk is no longer employed by the judge, it is the Committee's opinion that neither disqualification nor disclosure is required.