June 9, 2006
Digest: A judge need not disqualify him/herself in proceedings involving an attorney whose parent was a co-broker in the sale of the judge’s house six years earlier, unless the judge personally has doubts about his/her ability to remain impartial.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1); Opinions 04-99; 03-13; 99-68 (Vol. XVIII); 88-157 (Vol. III).
A judge states that the parent of an attorney in a large government law office was a co-broker on the sale of the judge’s house six years earlier and received the standard broker’s commission. The attorney regularly appears in the judge’s court on behalf of the agency. The judge now asks if he/she must exercise recusal when the attorney appears before the judge due to this past transaction involving the attorney’s parent.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct require that a judge disqualify him/herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned. 22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1).
The Committee believes the circumstances and relationships described in this inquiry are sufficiently remote so as not to create a situation where the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Thus, §100.3(E)(1) does not require disqualification.
Accordingly, the judge need not disclose this remote relationship with the attorney’s parent nor disqualify him/herself from presiding over proceedings involving this attorney, unless the judge personally entertains doubts about his/her impartiality. Opinion 04-99; 03-13; 99-68 (Vol. XVIII); 88-157 (Vol. III).