November 16, 2010
NOTE: This opinion has been modified to the extent inconsistent with Opinion 16-162. See footnote 2 of Opinion 16-162 for details.
This responds to your inquiry (10-98) asking whether you may, with your judge’s permission, retain your position as a full-time court attorney and also serve as a part-time town justice in the same county. If permitted, you also ask whether your judge would be disqualified on any appeals from the town court in which you sit. You note that your judge presides over a multi-bench court, consisting of county court, family court, and surrogate’s court.
It is ethically permissible to serve as a town justice in a town within the county where one also serves as a full-time law clerk. However, your judge is disqualified from hearing appeals from any order or judgment you render as a town justice.
While there is no ethical impropriety in serving in both roles, you also should consult section 50.3 of the Chief Judge’s Rules, which requires non-judicial employees of the Unified Court System to obtain written consent from the appropriate administrative authority before engaging in dual employment. (For further guidance on Part 50, you may contact the Unified Court System’s Ethics Helpline at 1-888-28-ETHIC).
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 08-172, 07-194 and 99-133 (Vol. XVIII) which address these issues (see also 22 NYCRR 50.3[a]; 100.6[B]).