March 12, 1996
Digest: (1) A part-time judge should recuse himself/herself in matters where a party is represented by the judge's employer's law firm which also represented the judge's daughter and with whom the judge has a continuing relationship as a result of his/her employment. (2) The judge may participate in the collection and depositing of money collected at a Parish Fair.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.4(C).
A newly elected town judge asks whether he/she can participate in his/her church Parish Fair to the extent of "counting and depositing monies collected at the Fair when this takes place out of sight of the public...". The Committee perceives no ethical objection to the activity contemplated.
The judge also informs the Committee that he/she is employed by a Credit Union that uses a local law firm as counsel. The inquirer in his/her position with the credit union does have occasion to speak with the attorneys although he/she no longer directly handles the legal matters sent to the law firm. However, the particular attorney represented the judge's daughter in 1993 in a traffic ticket case. There are presently two cases – one civil and one criminal - scheduled before the judge where a party is represented by the law firm.
The Committee is of the opinion that because of the continuing relationship between the law firm and the judge's employer as well as the judge's contacts with the firm, the judge should recuse himself/herself so as to avoid an appearance of partiality.