Opinion: 99-161

October 21, 1999

Digest: It is not improper for a part-time town justice, who is permitted to practice law, to seek an adjournment of a case in which the judge is the lawyer, based on the fact that on the date set down for an appearance he/she will be presiding as town justice.

Rule:  22 NYCRR 100.2(C); 100.3(A); 100.3(C)(1).


            A part-time town justice, who is permitted to practice law, has a case pending in a court where he/she is allowed to appear as an attorney. A future appearance date on a pending matter is scheduled on a day when the judge is scheduled to be presiding in the Town Court. The judge asks if it is permissible when seeking the adjournment to state, that he/she is a judge and will be engaged as a judge in the Town Court on the pending date.

            The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a judge from lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others. 22 NYCRR 100.2(C). The Rules also provide, however, that the judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all the other judge's activities and that judges should cooperate with other judges and court officials in the administration of court business. 22 NYCRR 100.3(A); 100.3(C)(1). While the invocation of the judge's title and engagement in seeking the adjournment may seemingly be perceived to be in furtherance of the private interests of the judge and the judge's client, the requirement of presiding as a judge takes precedence over inquirer's role as attorney.

            Accordingly, it is not improper for the lawyer/justice to invoke his/her judicial engagement when seeking an adjournment.