Opinion 18-87

August 6, 2018

Dear :

         Your inquiry (18-87) asks if you may preside in a matter involving the half-sibling of your great- niece/great-nephew. We note this half-sibling is not your niece/nephew’s step-child, as your niece/nephew never married, and has no relationship with, the half-sibling’s parent.1

         A judge must disqualify him/herself if he/she knows he/she is a sixth degree relative of a party by blood or marriage in a case before the judge (see 22 NYCRR 100.3[E][1][d]). You describe a person having no common ancestor with you or your great-niece/great-nephew, or with such person’s spouse. Thus, he/she is unrelated to you by blood or marriage within the meaning of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. Thus, you may preside if he/she appears before you.

         Enclosed, for your convenience, is Opinion 13-114 addressing this issue.

                                       Very truly yours,

                                       George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice

                                       Appellate Div., First Dep’t (Ret.)

                                       Committee Co-Chair 

                                        Hon. Margaret T. Walsh

                                       Family Court Judge

                                       Acting Justice, Supreme Court

                                       Committee Co-Chair




1 For present purposes, we assume that all children and step-children (if any) of your niece/nephew would be your fourth-degree relatives (i.e., your great-nieces/great-nephews).