Opinion: 98-153
December 3, 1998
Digest:   A part-time judge who is permitted to practice law, should not represent the deputy sheriffs' union of the county where the judge presides, or remain a member of the law firm that represents the county union.

Rule:     22 NYCRR 100.2; 100.4(A)(1);
              Opinions 95-157 (Vol. XIV); 96-131 (Vol. XV).


            A part-time town justice who is permitted to practice law, has been asked to represent the deputy sheriffs' police association, which is the collective bargaining unit for the deputy sheriffs in the justice's county. The judge asks if it is permissible for the judge or the judge's partners or associates to represent the organization. The judge had earlier inquired and received Opinion 95-157 (Vol. XIV), which stated that it was permissible for the judge's law firm to represent a deputy sheriff's union in another county. Opinion 95-157 (Vol. XIV).

            But, here, the representation involves law enforcement personnel in the same locale as the judge's court. Thus, in Opinion 96-131 (Vol. XV) this Committee held that an appearance of impropriety would result were a judge to preside in a court where matters involving the local sheriff's department predominate, while maintaining a partnership or association with the attorney representing for the sheriff's union. Opinion 96-131 (Vol. XV); 22 NYCRR 100.2.

            It therefore follows that the judge should not represent the sheriff's department union covering the deputy sheriffs in the county in which the justice presides. In addition, the judge should not remain a member of the law firm if any member, partner or associate of the firm represents the county deputy sheriff's union. In this way the judge will avoid those situations which could be perceived to "cast reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially as a judge." 22 NYCRR 100.4(A)(1).