December 11, 1990
Digest: A recently elected full-time judge need not disclose or recuse himself or herself from a proceeding in which one of the attorneys appearing before the judge publicly supported the judge in the judge’s election campaign, as such minimal participation does not raise an inference of partiality, provided the judge feels that he or she can be impartial when such attorney appears before the judge.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 16.1; 22 NYCRR 100.3 (c)
A recently elected full-time judge makes the following inquiries: (1) Are lawyers who were solicited by the judge, or who voluntarily submitted their names to be used by a committee to elect the judge, forever barred from appearing before the judge? (2) If not barred from appearing, must the judge disclose their participation in the judge’s election campaign? (3) If disclosure is required, must the judge offer recusal from the matter?
Section 100.3(c)(1) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts provides, in relevant part that “a judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which his or her impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
In Opinion 89-107, Vol. IV, this Committee found that where one of the attorneys appearing before the judge was, at the of the inquiry, managing the judge’s election campaign, disqualification by the judge during the campaign was mandatory. The Committee further held that, after the campaign, the judge should disqualify himself or herself whenever the attorney appeared before the judge as long as the judge felt that he or she could not be impartial. If and when the judge felt he or she could be impartial and considering all relevant factors, the Committee held that for a period of two years (using the two-year period of 22 NYCRR 16.1 of the Rules of the Chief Judge as a guide), the judge, if he or she chose not to disqualify himself or herself, must reveal the prior relationship with the attorney; and then could hear the matter unless a good-faith recusal request was made.
In the inquiry here, where such minimal participation by the attorneys occurred, no disclosure or recusal is required, as such limited participation does not raise an inference of partiality, provided that the judge feels that he or she can be impartial.