September 18, 1990
Digest: A part-time Judge whose spouse is chief clerk of a Surrogate's Court, need not disqualify himself or herself in a matter where the part-time law assistant to the Surrogate appears as an attorney before the part-time judge.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.3 (c) (1) (iii) and (c) (1) (v)
A part-time judge of a Town Court inquires whether the judge’s disqualification is necessary in cases where an appearing attorney works on a part-time basis as a law assistant in the same Surrogate’s Court where the inquiring judge’s spouse also serves as chief clerk, and where the law assistant routinely works with and advises the judge’s spouse on Surrogate’s Court operations and cases.
The rules do not require disqualification simply where a fellow public employee of a judge’s spouse appears as an attorney. As no interest of the judge or the judge’s spouse would be affected by the outcome of the case, and provided that the judge is satisfied that he or she can impartially preside over cases in which the law assistant, or any member of the law assistant’s law firm, appears, disqualification is not required.