November 16, 2012
This responds to the remainder of your inquiry (12-85). You first asked about your ethics obligations when attorneys, with whom you have a social relationship, only submit papers in matters assigned to you, but do not actually appear before you. In Opinion 12-85(A), the Committee provided you with Opinion 11-125, which defines in detail the specific categories of social relationships between judges and lawyers (i.e. acquaintance, close social relationship, close personal relationship) and the judge’s concomitant ethics obligations (i.e. disclosure, recusal, disqualification).
The present Opinion (12-85[B]) responds to your second question, concerning your ethics obligations when the law firm colleagues of attorneys with whom you have a social relationship are involved in cases before you.
Although disqualification or disclosure may be required when an attorney with whom you have a social relationship appears before you (see Opinion 11-125), this obligation does not automatically extend to the attorney’s firm colleagues. As always, however, if you doubt your ability to be impartial in a particular matter, you should not preside.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow,
Assoc. Justice (Ret.)
Appellate Division, First Dept.