June 13, 1988
Topic: Consideration by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics of requests for opinions by New York City Housing Part Judges.
Digest : The Judges of the Housing Part of the Civil Court of the City of New York are entitled to request ethics opinions and receive the same consideration as other judges in connection with the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics.
Rules: NYCCCA §102, §110; 22 NYCRR §208.43(a); Glass v. Thompson, 51 A.D.2d 69
A New York City Housing Judge inquires whether this Committee will answer requests for opinions from Housing Judges of the Civil Court of the City of New York.
Section 102 of the New York City Civil Court Act established the Civil Court of the City of New York as a single city-wide court. The Civil Court Act also established hearing officers for the Housing Part, and provided for their appointment, qualification, term, powers and duties (N.Y. City Civil Court Act §110). The status of these hearing officers as referees rather than as duly elected judges was historically and extensively treated by the Second Department (Glass v. Thompson, 51 A.D.2d 69).
Section 110 of the New York City Civil Court Act was subsequently amended to provide that:
Actions and proceedings before the Housing Part shall be tried before Civil Court Judges, Acting Civil Court Judges, or Housing Judges. Housing Judges shall be appointed pursuant to subdivision (f) of the Section and shall be duly constituted judicial officers, empowered to hear, determine and grant any relief within the powers of the Housing Part in any action or proceeding except those to be tried by jury. Such housing Judges shall have the Power of Judges of the Court to punish for contempts. Rules of evidence shall be applicable in actions and proceedings before the Housing Part. The determination of the Housing Judge shall be final and shall be entered and may be appealed in the same manner as a judgment of the court.... (emphasis added).
In our view, the powers as enumerated by the Legislature make it clear that Housing Judges qualify as judges for our purpose and consequently, they are entitled to ethics opinions from this Committee.
This opinion is advisory only and does not bind either the Office of Court Administration or the Commission on Judicial Conduct.