Opinion 07-127

January 15, 2007

Please Note: In Opinion 20-185, we stated: “Opinions 07-127 and 99-80 say that a judge who performs investigative work for an attorney must disqualify if they ‘recently’ solicited work from the attorney.  We modify these opinions to clarify that the two-year runs from the latest of the three possible dates (date of last work performed, date of final payment, or date on which the judge last solicited work from the attorney).”

         This responds to your inquiry (07-127) about whether you may continue as a private investigator while serving as a Town Justice.

         This Committee previously concluded that a part-time judge may serve as a private investigator, subject to certain limitations. Thus, the judge should not work as an investigator on matters that might fall within the jurisdiction of the judge’s court. If such a matter does come before the judge, he/she must recuse. Also, for a period of two years after the judge completes work as an investigator for a particular attorney, the judge should exercise recusal when that attorney appears before the judge. Finally, the judge should recuse if he/she has recently solicited work from an attorney who appears in the judge’s court. Opinions 99-80 (Vol. XVIII); 92-63 (Vol. IX); 90-01 (Vol. V).