July 10, 2015
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Please Note: As noted in Opinion 20-135, while the outcome of this opinion remains unchanged “on the unusual facts presented,” it incorrectly describes the general rule about a judge’s obligations with respect to the judge’s personal attorney’s law firm. Significantly, “disqualification is required during the representation” even for law firm associates who are not personally involved in the judge’s representation (id. fn 2). Thereafter, “disclosure is ordinarily mandated for those associates during the first two years after the representation has fully concluded; only after the two-year period has elapsed may the judge preside without disclosure” (id.). Please see Opinion 20-135 for more information.
This answers your inquiry (15-114) asking if associates of an attorney who represented you at a negotiation session in your matrimonial matter may appear before you. You say the associates of your attorney were completely insulated from any involvement in the case, and you are aware the attorney who did represent you may not appear before you for two years.
The Committee has previously determined that if a judge’s attorney’s associates had no involvement in the judge’s case, the judge may preside when they appear. It is within the sole discretion of the judge whether to exercise recusal. The judge may, but is not required to disclose that the representation occurred.
Enclosed, for your convenience, is Joint Opinion 08-171/08-174 which addresses this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Associate Justice
Appellate Division, 1st Dept. (Ret.)