September 18, 1990
Digest: A part-time town justice, whose brother is the police chief in a village within the town, should be disqualified from cases in which the brother was in any way involved.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.3(c); 22 NYCRR §100.3(c)(1) (iv)
A part-time town justice, whose brother is the local police chief of the village within the jurisdiction of the judge’s court, inquires under what circumstances the judge may participate in matters involving the police department. The judge also inquires whether it is proper to post a sign in the courtroom about the brother’s position.
Section 100.3(c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides, in part, that, “a judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which his or her impartiality might reasonably be questioned...” Pursuant to this section, the judge should be disqualified in any case in which the brother appears before the judge or was in any way involved. In addition, the judge should disclose the fraternal relationship in each case in which officers under the brother’s command appear before the judge, and should inquire whether the brother participated in the particular matter, at any stage, and if so, should invoke disqualification. The posting of a sign in the courtroom regarding the fraternal relationship is unnecessary.