Opinion 97-140

December 11, 1997


Digest:         A judge, who formerly was the mayor of a municipality, is not disqualified from presiding over cases in which members of the police force of that municipality appear as complaining or material witnesses, provided the judge is not a close personal acquaintance or relative of the police officer.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.3(E) Opinion: 92-71 (Vol. IX).


         A judge who has been on the bench for four years inquiries whether he/she is disqualified from sitting in cases in which police officers of a municipality of which the judge was the mayor prior to becoming a judge, appear as complaining or material witnesses. As mayor, the judge had passed upon the appointment and promotion of members of the police force. The judge states that, except for one officer who is the judge’s son-in-law, there is no personal relationship with any member of the police force.

         The judge is disqualified from presiding in any case in which the judge’s son-in-law is a party or material witness. Opinion 92-71 (Vol IX). However, in view of the passage of time since the judge had any appointing authority and in the absence of any personal relationship between the judge and any other member of the municipality’s police force, the judge is not disqualified from sitting in cases merely because members of the police force may be witnesses or complainants. 22 NYCRR 100.3(E).