January 24, 2008
Digest: A judge who teaches at a law school and who once lectured students enrolled in a law school clinical program is not disqualified when a student who attended the lecture appears before the judge, unless the judge feels that he/she cannot remain impartial.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1); Opinions 95-58 (Vol. XIII), 91-81(Vol. VIII), 88-157 (Vol. III)
On one occasion, a judge who teaches at a law school lectured students enrolled in a law school clinical program. The judge asks if he/she may preside when a student who attended the lecture appears in the judge’s court.
Pursuant to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, a judge must disqualify himself/herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned. 22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1).
This Committee previously has advised that a judge is not disqualified when an attorney appearing before the judge served as the judge’s student intern while the attorney was a law student [Opinion 95-58 (Vol. XIII)]; when an attorney appearing before a part-time judge was that judge’s student during high school [Opinion 91-81 (Vol. VIII)]; and, when a party is represented by an attorney who served as the judge’s research clerk while the attorney was a law student, unless the judge believes that he/she cannot be impartial [Opinion 88-157 (Vol. III)]. In the present inquiry, where the student appearing before the judge attended only one lecture of the judge at the student’s law school, the relationship is even more remote. Thus, the judge also is not disqualified when the student appears in the judge’s court.