January 28, 1993
Digest: A newly-elected full-time judge may preside over cases where the judge’s law clerk has business affiliations with attorneys who appear before the judge, provided that the clerk’s relationship is disclosed to all parties and the clerk is insulated from the matter. However, if the clerk has any interest in the matter, as a party or attorney or partner or associate of an attorney, the judge should recuse himself or herself to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2.
A newly-elected full-time judge inquires whether a judge may preside over matters in which attorneys, who are business associates of the judge’s law clerk, appear before the judge. The judge informs this Committee that the law clerk is a part owner of real property also owned by various attorneys, and that the law clerk is a stockholder of a closely held corporation, of which various attorneys also are stockholders. These attorneys practice in the judge’s court.
It is the opinion of this Committee that the judge may preside over any matters, regardless of his law clerk’s business affiliations. In appropriate cases, however, the judge should disclose to the parties and their attorneys the clerk’s business association with parties or attorneys in the matter. The judge should also insulate the clerk from involvement in such matters.
In cases where the law clerk has any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, as a party or attorney, or is a partner or law associate of an attorney in the matter, the judge should recuse himself or herself to avoid the appearance of impropriety.