September 12, 2002
Digest: A judge need not recuse in cases involving an insurance carrier which employs the judge’s spouse’s niece who is an attorney engaged in investigating work and who does not make court appearances, provided that the judge does not know or have reason to know of any involvement of the niece in the pending case.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.2(B); 100.3(E)(1)(d)(iii), (iv); 100.3(F).
A judge inquires of the necessity for recusal or disclosure because of the fact that the niece of the judge’s spouse is employed by a casualty insurance carrier. The niece is an attorney but does not appear in court and basically handles the investigatory phase of motor accidents such as obtaining statements from witnesses and parties. The niece does not conduct depositions and does not have authority to settle cases without supervisory approval.
It is the opinion of the Committee that a blanket general recusal is not required in all cases in which the carrier is the insurer of a party. However, in cases where the judge knows or has reason to know of the niece’s involvement in a particular case, the judge should recuse, which recusal is subject to remittal. 22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1)(d)(iii), (iv); 100.3(F).