Opinion 92-16

January 30, 1992


Digest:         A town attorney and his or her law partners and associates may represent private individuals before a part-time lawyer-judge; but the judge's attorney colleagues, who work for the same government agency as the judge in an office consisting of approximately twenty attorneys, may not appear before that judge.


Rule:            22 NYCRR 100.2.


         A part-time judge, who also is an attorney, inquires whether the town attorney and the town attorney's law partners and associates, and other attorneys who share office space with the town attorney, may appear and represent private individuals in court before the judge. The judge also asks whether the judge's co-worker attorneys, who are attorneys working in and for the same state agency as the judge, may appear before the judge on behalf of private clients.

         No ethical prohibition exists as to the judge presiding when the town attorney appears before the judge on behalf of private clients in cases where the town is not a party. Nor is there any judicial ethical restriction on the partners, associates or colleagues of the town attorney representing private individuals before the judge.

         However, the judge should not preside over cases where one of the attorneys is one of approximately twenty attorney co-workers of the judge at the state agency where the judge works, as this could create an impermissible appearance of impropriety. [22 NYCRR 100.2]. The judge’s co-workers may appear as attorneys before the other judge of the court, but not before the judge who is their co-worker.