April 5, 1990
Digest: A part-time judge’s spouse may hold a minor clerical position with the local police department without the judge being disqualified in criminal cases where police officers of that department are witnesses.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.3 ( c)(1)(iii).
A part-time judge who presides over criminal cases inquires whether there is a conflict of interest if the judge’s spouse is employed as a receptionist by the local police department.
Section 100.3 ( c)(1)(iii) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator requires that a judge disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding where the judge’s spouse has “any interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.” In Opinion 88-105, this Committee found that a judge could preside over a case where the judge’s spouse was employed as a secretary by one of the parties, provided that the judge disclosed the relationship to both parties, and neither party objected.
Here, the judge’s spouse holds a minor receptionist position with the police department, which would not be substantially affected by the outcome of any proceeding involving the police department. Accordingly, there is no conflict of interest between the judge’s position and the spouse’s employment, and disqualification of the judge in criminal cases where local police officers are witnesses is not required.