February 2, 2023
Question: Is a town justice disqualified from presiding over matters in which the town is represented by a law firm that employs the judge’s first-degree relative as an associate?
Discussion: The inquirer notes that the first-degree relative will not personally handle any matters in the town court and asks about how to handle matters involving the relative’s law firm. We have previously advised that when a judge’s first-degree relative does not personally represent a party, but is employed as a full-time associate by a private law firm that does, the judge must recuse from all matters involving the partners and associates of the judge’s relative (see Opinions 20-56; 17-150; 06-111; 91-125). Accordingly, the inquiring judge is disqualified from presiding in any matter in which the relative’s firm represents the town, subject to remittal (see Opinions 20-56; 17-150).
As always, remittal requires full disclosure and the affirmative
consent of the parties and their counsel (see Opinion 21-22[A]).
Enclosed: Opinions 20-56; 17-150; 06-111; 91-125.