Opinion 88-144

December 8, 1988


Topic:          Propriety of judge’s assigning 18-B cases to an attorney who worked on the judge’s election champaign.


Digest:         A judge may assign 18-B cases to attorneys who worked on the judge's election campaign, provided he does so on the basis of merit and fairness.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.3(b)(4)


         A town justice inquires as to the propriety of assigning 18-B cases to attorneys on the 18-B list who helped in the judge's election campaign. He notes that assignments are generally determined by which attorneys are present in court when an assignment becomes necessary and which attorneys have particular experience for the particular types of cases.

         Section 100.3(b)(4) states that a “judge shall exercise the power of appointment only on the basis of merit, avoiding favoritism.” While this section does not restrict a judge from assigning 18-B cases to attorneys who assisted in his campaign, the judge should make such appointments on the basis of merit from an approved 18-B list of attorneys and should not confine appointments only to attorneys who were active in the judge's campaign, or even those who supported the judge's opponent. Further, if the Appellate Division or the District Administrative Judge or other appropriate authority have provided for a rotation system, that should, of course, be honored, although for good cause the judge may depart from the rotation system in making an assignment to a particular case.