April 11, 1988
Topic: Recusal of judge because of relationship with attorney.
Digest: A judge must disqualify him/herself in cases involving an attorney who once represented the judge’s spouse for as long as the judge feels that he/she cannot be impartial.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.3(c)
A judge inquires about the length of time he/she must exercise recusal from matters in which an attorney, who once represented the judge’s spouse, appears.
Section 100.3(c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides that a judge must disqualify him/herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might be questioned. Here, the judge must disqualify him/herself while the attorney is representing the judge’s spouse, and should continue to disqualify him/herself after the representation is concluded, for as long as the judge feels that he/she cannot be impartial.
Once the judge ceases to recuse him/herself, the judge must reveal on the record his/her prior relationship with the attorney in cases in which the attorney appears, and should recuse him/herself if the other party requests the judge’s recusal.1
This Opinion is advisory only and is not binding upon the Commission on Judicial Conduct or the Office of Court Administration.
1This Opinion was modified by Committee Opinion 88-153 dated January 12, 1989, to be published in Volume III.