Opinion 91-10

January 24, 1991

NOTE: Please consult Joint Opinion 08-171/08-174 before relying on this opinion. To the extent that this opinion is inconsistent with Joint Opinion 08-171/08-174 regarding a judge's disclosure/recusal obligations when his/her personal attorney or his/her personal attorney's partners and associates appear in the judge's court, it is overruled.


Digest:         A judge should not preside over any case in which either the law firm or a member of the law firm representing the judge in an automobile accident lawsuit appears.


Rules:          22 NYCRR § 100.3(c)


         A judge asks about the propriety of hearing cases involving a law firm which is currently representing the judge, through the judge’s insurance company, in an automobile accident lawsuit.

         Section 100.3(c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator requires that a judge disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s partiality might be questioned. Here, the judge should not handle any cases in which either the law firm, or a member of that firm representing the judge, appears.

         In Opinion 88-153 (Vol. III), this Committee found that a judge should continue to disqualify himself or herself in any matters in which the judge’s present or former personal attorney appears for a period of time, considering all the relevant factors. A copy of that opinion is enclosed. If the judge chooses not to disqualify himself or herself, the judge must reveal the prior relationship with the attorney, and should seriously consider disqualification if any party objects.