March 5, 2012
This responds to your inquiry (12-08) asking about your ethical obligations in the event an attorney appears before you from a firm to which your firm referred a criminal matter and which firm referred several civil matters to your firm. The criminal and civil matters were all completely resolved more than two years ago, and there are no outstanding fee claims to your knowledge.
The Committee has previously advised that, under similar circumstances, a judge should not preside over matters involving the other firm unless and until two years have passed from the time the business relationship ended (i.e., all financial obligations between the two firms have been satisfied). Therefore, assuming the referred cases have ended and all financial obligations between the two firms have been satisfied, you are not ethically obligated either to disclose the prior relationship or to disqualify yourself in any proceedings in which an attorney from the other law firm appears.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 06-63, 99-91 and 91-120 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)