March 14, 1988
Topic: Part-time town justice as attorney for fire district located within his jurisdictional limits.
Digest: Part-time town justice may serve as attorney for a fire district located in the town in which his court is located.
Rules: Code of Judicial Conduct, “Compliance” paragraph A(1); 22 NYCRR 100.5(b)
A recently elected town justice, who is an attorney, inquires whether he may serve as the attorney for one of three fire districts within the town in which he serves as a justice.
The Committee answers this question in the affirmative.
Town justices are part-time judges, and if they are attorneys, may practice law within limits prescribed by the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts (CJC, Compliance paragraph A; 22 NYCRR 100.5[f]). Subparagraph (h) of Rule 100.5 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts further provides that:
“A part-time judge may accept private employment or public employment in a Federal, State or Municipal department or agency, provided that such employment is not incompatible with judicial office and does not conflict or interfere with the proper performance of the judge's duties.”
Fire districts are units of town government with their own popularly-elected officers (Town Law, §175) and budgets (id. §181). The Advisory Committee cannot foresee the likelihood of a conflict between the duties of a town justice and the attorney for a fire district.
This Opinion is advisory only and is not binding upon either the Office of Court Administration or the Commission on Judicial Conduct.