Opinion 87-07


Topic:          Appointment by a Surrogate as guardians ad litem of partners of a law firm which employs the lawyer-son of the Surrogate as an associate.


Digest:         A Surrogate who appropriately appointed from time to time as guardians ad litem partners of a law firm who were qualified for appointment under Section 36.1 (b) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts should cease appointing such persons upon their employing the Surrogate’s son as an associate in the law firm.


Rules:          Rule 100.2; Rule 36.1


         A Surrogate asks the Committee’s advice as to his future course in making appointments. He states that his son has become an employee of a three-partner firm, and that the partners were receiving appointments as guardians ad litem for a three-year period pre-dating his son’s association with the firm. Were he to appoint such persons in the future, his son would not share in any of the fees awarded to them.

         Section 36.1 (b) of the Rules of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals provides that the prohibition against appointment of a relative of a judge does not apply to the appointment of professional associates of such relative. Nevertheless, the subject fact pattern, per se, in which the appointing judge would be the father of an employee of the appointees, lends itself to the appearance of impropriety which violates Section 100.2 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts. The Committee therefore advises against such appointments on the part of the judge.

         This opinion is advisory only and does not bind either the Office of Court Administration or the Committee on Judicial Conduct.