May 26, 2015
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
This responds to your inquiry (15-70) asking what your obligations are with respect to another judge’s conduct. The judge appeared in your court because his/her parent/child/sibling had a pending traffic ticket. Although the judge advised you he/she was present in a purely family support role, you later learned from the prosecutor that the judge participated in a conference between his/her relative and the prosecutor. You indicate the prosecutor told you he/she felt intimidated and uncomfortable, and recounted that the judge challenged the offer he/she made to settle the case. You indicate the prosecutor also told you that the judge “slapped” a copy of the relevant statute down in front of him/her, and asked if he/she had read it. You later learned from a source you consider reliable that the judge further attempted to improperly influence his/her relative’s case.
A judge must uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary (see 22 NYCRR 100.1), must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his/her activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.2), and must act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]). Therefore, a judge who receives information indicating a substantial likelihood that another judge has committed a substantial violation of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct must take appropriate action. This Committee has consistently advised that the judge who learns of alleged misconduct must determine for him/herself whether another judge’s conduct is a substantial violation. However, on occasion, the Committee has determined there is no question that, if proven, certain conduct is so egregious that it constitutes a substantial violation of the Rules and implicates a judge’s fitness to continue in office. In that situation, the Committee has advised the inquiring judge of his/her affirmative duty to report the misconduct to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
In the Committee’s view, you have concluded the allegations described are credible. If proven, the conduct described implicates the other judge’s fitness to continue in office. Therefore, under these circumstances, you must report these allegations to the Commission on Judicial Conduct. This is the only appropriate action under these particular circumstances.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 13- 69 and 10-14 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)