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Recently Broadcast Opinions

The Committee's published opinions are searchable online and on Westlaw. In addition, many opinions are sent to the Buffalo Law Journal, the Magistrate, the New York Daily Record, and/or the New York Law Journal.

The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics recently issued the following opinions, which are linked below.

  • Opinions are not in strict numerical order; they are grouped by date of distribution.
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December 4, 2017 Broadcast

Opinion 17-105 Digest: A town justice need not prohibit his/her law firm employee from serving on the town board, provided the employee agrees in writing to abstain from any matters involving the justice court, including the judge's salary and the court's budget.

Opinion 17-107 Digest: A judge must not permit or consider a witness's ex parte request to dismiss a traffic summons for a moving violation, unless the judge determines that applicable law specifically authorizes him/her to do so.

Opinion 17-108 Digest: A judge may not participate in a "Call to Service and Compassion Workshop" to honor child abuse victims and survivors hosted by a local child advocacy center.

Opinion 17-110 Digest: A judge may suggest alternatives to a plea agreement offered by a defendant and prosecutor, provided the judge does so non-coercively and is careful not to create an impression he/she has prejudged the case's merits. Prior opinions are modified to clarify that a judge may, subject to significant ethical, constitutional, and statutory limits, initiate, suggest, or facilitate plea agreements.

Opinion 17-117 May a judge permit a non-profit organization to advertise that the judge will be speaking at a non-fund-raising event co-sponsored by several not-for-profit religious and/or educational organizations?

Opinion 17-122 Digest: A full-time judge may permit his/her law clerk to serve on a local zoning board of appeals. The judge may preside in cases involving the ZBA, provided the law clerk is insulated from those cases and the insulation is disclosed on the record to all parties and their counsel. Because this disclosure is mandated in lieu of disqualification, if a party is appearing without counsel, the judge must disqualify him/herself.

Opinion 17-126 Digest: A judge may continue to preside in a declaratory judgment action, even after learning that his/her spouse's employer, a non-party with no involvement in the subject matter of the dispute, made political contributions to a named respondent, provided the judge believes he/she can be fair and impartial. The judge need not make any disclosure.

Opinion 17-127 May a Surrogate appoint his/her former law firm associate as public administrator?

Opinion 17-131 May a judge participate in an interview with a not-for-profit entity which provides mediation services in a court where the judge formerly presided?

Opinion 17-134 (1) May a judge serve as a director, board member or president of a domestic not-for-profit corporation, which seeks tax exempt status, to help promote women into leadership positions "across all fields of endeavor"? May he/she educate others within the organization about how to raise funds? (2) May a judge provide an employment reference for an attorney who is a former colleague? What are the judge's ethical obligations in matters involving the attorney and his/her new employer if he/she does provide a reference?

Opinion 17-136 May a part-time town justice accept paid employment as an advisor to a consulting firm which was retained by a municipality (other than the one in which he/she sits) to conduct a study on the feasibility of subsuming its village court into the larger town court?

Opinion 17-142 Digest: A town justice (1) may not directly or indirectly oppose a candidate for non-judicial public office, including by distributing handouts about the other candidate's actions or qualifications; (2) may comment on, testify about, or otherwise publicly oppose a proposal to reduce the town court to a single justice; and (3) may, as a candidate for judicial office, respond to attacks on the judge's record, so long as any such response is made truthfully and without distortion.

Opinion 17-146 Digest: A judge may attend a free public conference on human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children, where the program will focus primarily on helping identify and assist at-risk youth.

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November 3, 2017 Broadcast

Opinion 17-92 Digest: A judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, when a law student who appears before him/her pursuant to a student practice order is directly supervised by an attorney with whom the judge maintains a close personal relationship.

Opinion 17-102 May a judge concurrently serve as a part-time City Court judge and a full-time Executive Director of a not-for-profit center for social and criminal justice?

Opinion 17-103 May a judge concurrently serve as a part-time City Court judge and a full-time Executive Director of a not-for-profit alcohol treatment program, to which the judge indirectly makes referrals?

Opinion 17-112 May a judge grant the probation department’s ex parte request to exempt from disclosure the victim impact statement contained in the pre-sentence investigation report?

Opinion 17-113 May a judge continue to serve as an acting village justice if his/her spouse is elected as a village trustee? 

Opinion 17-114 May a judge presiding over a civil matter involving allegations of sexual abuse committed by a non-party minor solicit pro bono representation for the non-party minor?

Opinion 17-118 May a town justice continue presiding over (a) civil cases where the town is a party and (b) violations prosecuted by the town attorney pursuant to authority delegated by the District Attorney, when a person the judge has treated as a first-degree relative becomes town supervisor?

Opinion 17-119 May a judge preside in Department of Social Services matters if his/her first-degree relative is hired as a paralegal or legal clerk by the County Attorney’s office?

Opinion 17-124 May a judge be the announced speaker for the annual tea party of a certain chapter of a not-for-profit charitable entity, where the tea party includes an advertised raffle/auction in an adjacent room?

Opinion 17-130 May a judge preside in a criminal case where the complainant is an assistant district attorney who has occasionally appeared as a prosecutor before the judge?

Opinion 17-137 May a part-time judge accept an award as Citizen of the Year from a local not-for-profit entity at a non-fund-raising dinner, and permit the award to be advertised in advance?

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September 14, 2017 Broadcast

Opinion 17-23 May a judge whose window period has expired keep his/her campaign account open for the sole purpose of paying outstanding legal bills from his/her former campaign?

Opinion 17-39 May a full-time judge serve on the board of a non-profit, non-partisan organization that advises governmental policymakers nationwide on criminal justice measures affecting public safety?

Opinion 17-53 What are the obligations of a judge presiding in a juvenile delinquency matter, who receives a social media message from the victim's first-degree relative containing substantive discussion of the case?

Opinion 17-54 When giving a speech about the law, the legal system or the administration of justice at a court-sponsored Law Day event, a judge should not publicly criticize or attack a sitting public official, or comment on his/her remarks. Rather, the judge should focus on the law to avoid casting doubt on his/her ability to perform judicial functions appropriately consistent with his/her legal and ethical duties.

Opinion 17-55 Digest: A judge may not directly or indirectly solicit property owners, car rental agencies, or food merchants on behalf of the Red Cross. However, the judge may use his/her skills as a logistics expert to plan and to manage supplies or donations as they are received and may also purchase items for disaster relief with a donated debit card, provided the judge does not solicit such a card. These principles apply without geographic limitation.

Opinion 17-56 Digest: Where a judge has reported an attorney to the grievance committee for more than one instance of alleged misconduct, the judge is disqualified from all matters involving the attorney until two years after resolution of all disciplinary proceedings on the reported incidents. During this period, the judge's disqualification is not subject to remittal unless the attorney waives confidentiality or the grievance committee issues a published disciplinary opinion. The disqualification does not extend to other members of the reported attorney's law firm if the judge is satisfied that the other attorneys were not involved in the purported misconduct and if the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 17-61 Digest: A judge may not intervene in a criminal defendant's appeal by advising the parties of his/her belief that he/she correctly stated the legal standard during voir dire, and that the transcript is erroneous, where the judge does not recall his/her exact words and the judge's alleged misstatement is a basis for the appeal.

Opinion 17-67 Digest: A judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from all matters involving an attorney who was hired by the judge's second-degree relative to pursue litigation concerning real property in which the judge has an interest. This obligation continues for two years after the representation completely terminates.

Opinion 17-68 Digest: (1) A judge may permit his/her court attorney to (a) host fund-raisers away from the courthouse during non-working hours to offset costs associated with the court attorney's international adoption and (b) use personal social media accounts to promote the fund-raisers. (2) The judge need not prohibit the court attorney from accepting donations from attorneys under Part 100, but the judge (a) must not permit any contributions to be made or fund-raising activities to occur during working hours or on court property and (b) must insulate him/her from all matters involving those attorneys. (3) The judge may attend the court attorney's fund-raisers and make contributions from his/her personal funds but may not assist with any solicitation.

Opinion 17-69 Digest: A full-time judge (1) may attend informational assemblies and leadership meetings organized by a not-for-profit umbrella entity which encompasses the judge's religious institution, even if pending litigation is on the agenda, provided the judge does not comment on the litigation; and (2) may invite his/her fellow congregants to attend such assemblies and leadership meetings.

Opinion 17-70 Digest: (1) A court attorney-referee who is an ordained rabbi may teach, preach, and write on Israel-related issues concerning the law, the legal system or the administration of justice, but not on non-legal matters of substantial public and political controversy, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (2) A court attorney-referee may join and participate in non-political events sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hiddush, which appear to have substantial non-political purposes, but may neither join nor attend events sponsored by J Street.

Opinion 17-76 Digest: A judge must disqualify him/herself in cases involving a law firm that is representing the judge's first-degree relative and former law partner in a disciplinary investigation of their joint IOLA account. Remittal is not available unless the judge can fully disclose the fact and nature of the representation, and how it affects the judge's interests, without violating his/her relative's right to confidentiality.

Opinion 17-80 May a judicial association accept a donation of food from a local restaurant for an upcoming cultural celebration open to the public?

Opinion 17-87 May a full-time judge accept an anonymous gift of food, very modest in value, which was left in his/her chambers?

Opinion 17-89 May a town justice preside over matters assigned to staff attorneys in the Public Defender's office, after the Public Defender is elected to the Town Board?

Opinion 17-90 What are a judge's obligations on learning a law firm unilaterally altered an order of protection the judge issued against their client?

Opinion 17-91 May a full-time city court judge accept appointment by the county health commissioner to serve an unpaid hearing officer under the Public Health Law to adjudicate a certain category of health-related violations?

Opinion 17-93 May a judge who applied for employment with the local District Attorney's office preside in cases involving that office if he/she is not selected for the position or declines to take it?

Opinion 17-94 May a judge be a guest of honor at a not-for-profit arts entity's concert to celebrate local women leaders and trailblazers, and appear in a video of the event, where the concert and video will not involve any fund-raising?

Opinion 17-96 May a JHO serve on the advisory council for the housing part, which evaluates applicants and makes recommendations to the Chief Administrative Judge's regarding housing court judges' appointments?

Opinion 17-97 Where a housing court judge's first-degree relative is president of a real estate management company, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, in all cases involving the company's outside counsel.

Opinion 17-100 How long must a full-time judge wait before presiding over new filings involving a former institutional client when an attorney, not affiliated with the judge's former law firm, now represents the former client? When does the disqualification period commence?

Opinion 17-104 May a judge hold "off-hours" arraignments in a publicly accessible area of a county jail as part of an initiative to provide counsel to defendants at arraignment?

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August 11, 2017 Broadcast

Opinion 17-49 Digest: A county court judge who filed a disciplinary complaint against a town or village justice is not necessarily disqualified in all indictments and superior court informations which originated as felony complaints before that justice. However, during the pendency of the disciplinary complaint and for two years after it is resolved, the county court judge must carefully review the nature and extent of the justice's involvement in such matters to determine if recusal is warranted.

Opinion 17-50 May a village justice hear a summary proceeding where the village attorney is appearing on behalf of a private client?

Opinion 17-51 May a full-time judge serve on the board of the not-for-profit religious community center that runs the school the judge's children attend?

Opinion 17-52 May a full-time judge hold a small percentage ownership in a limited liability company his/her spouse is forming to provide consulting services in his/her field, where the judge will not have any active role in the management or control of the business?

Opinion 17-57 May a judge participate in a panel discussion concerning current issues in the prosecution of computer crime in the courts of New York, for an association of criminal investigators?

Opinion 17-58 Digest: A village court clerk may not accept appointment as associate village justice of the same court, even where he/she would act only in the absence of the other village justice.

Opinion 17-59 Digest: A judge who declined his/her college alma mater's invitation to be an honorary co-chair of a fund-raising event and, after receiving the printed invitation listing the judge as a co-chair, objected in writing and requested a retraction, is not obligated to take any further steps. The judge may attend the event, where doing so will create no appearance of impropriety.

Opinion 17-62 May a part-time judge accept employment as counsel to the county legislature?

Opinion 17-63 May a part-time judge form a company to manufacture and sell custom-made robes to other judges online?

Opinion 17-64 May the Committee comment on past conduct?

Opinion 17-65 Digest: A village court clerk who is the village police chief’s third-degree relative must be insulated from all cases involving the village police.  Where such insulation would prevent the court clerk from performing his/her duties if hired, the village justice may not consent to the proposed employment.

Opinion 17-74 May a judge preside in matters involving a hospital that recently provided emergency medical care to the judge?

Opinion 17-77 May a judge serve as a housing resource for a third-degree relative on parole?

Opinion 17-79 Digest: A judge may appear in a family photograph with his/her first-degree relative in the relative's campaign literature, provided the judge does not wear a judicial robe and nothing in the literature identifies him/her as a judge.

Opinion 17-83 May a judge speak on the development of a particular area of law in New York State and in other jurisdictions, at a free, non-political event that is open to the public?

Opinion 17-84 May a judge give a regionally exclusive newspaper interview about his/her life story, religious activity, career path, and work-life balance?

Opinion 17-86 Digest: A full-time judge may not permit his/her part-time co-judge's partners and associates to engage in the practice of law before him/her and, thus, may not accept papers for filing which were evidently prepared by the co-judge's partner.

Opinion 17-88 May a judge serve on a committee established by a local prosecutor to address certain legal issues concerning a prosecutor's discovery obligations, where the committee will include the criminal defense bar, representatives of the local Legal Aid Society, the director of the local 18B panel, and senior prosecutors?

Opinion 17-101 May a judge meet privately with attorneys who represent criminal defendants concerning a "defense perspective" on the court's handling of "discovery, diversion and disposition of cases," where the meeting will expressly exclude any prosecutors?

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June 21, 2017 Broadcast

Opinion 16-177 May a part-time judge volunteer with (1) a departmental grievance committee's diversion program under 22 NYCRR 1240.11 and/or (2) a local bar association's lawyer assistance committee under Judiciary Law § 499?

Opinion 17-16 Digest: A new judge, who previously served as law clerk to his/her current supervising judge and attended multiple events at the judge's home, must disclose the relationship in cases involving the supervising judge's spouse's law firm. Thereafter, the judge may preside if he/she can be fair and impartial after considering all relevant factors. However, because disclosure is mandatory, the judge must disqualify him/herself if a party in the case is appearing without counsel.

Opinion 17-26 Digest: A newly-elected judge may preside in matters involving an attorney who participated in the absentee ballot review process following the general election, provided the attorney had no other involvement in the judge's campaign and did not advocate on the judge's behalf during the absentee ballot review process.

Opinion 17-31 May a judge preside in a criminal case where the complainant is his/her co-judge's adult child, and the judge has no relationship with the complainant other than purely "happenstance" interactions?

Opinion 17-42 Digest: A part-time judge may also be a full-time academic SUNY employee administering and overseeing a SUNY-hosted police cadet academy.

Opinion 17-60 Where a county political party met to select its 2017 candidates on February 28, but (at the time the inquiry was decided) the party chair had publicly announced only that next year's party meeting would be held "in May 2018," without further details, what date should judicial candidates in that county use to calculate the start of their 2018 window period? Must different judicial candidates in that county count back from different dates, or may they all rely on the specific date stated in Opinion 17-60?

Opinion 17-71 May a judge who filed a disciplinary complaint against an assistant district attorney require the prosecutor's office to substitute a different assistant district attorney in an upcoming criminal case?

Opinion 17-72 May a judge interpose a pro se answer in a real estate case in which the judge and his/her siblings are named defendants?

Opinion 17-75 Digest: A judge whose non-attorney spouse is employed by a local public authority may preside in matters where a part-time employee of the same public authority, in his/her capacity as a private attorney, appears on behalf of criminal defendants or other private clients. The judge need not disclose that the attorney also works part-time for the same public authority that employs the judge's spouse.

Opinion 17-78 Digest: Under the circumstances, a judge who objected orally and in writing to the appearance of his/her name in a letter soliciting funds for a charity need not take any further action.

Opinion 17-81 May a part-time judge give a presentation on civil enforcement and other related civil matters at an annual training conference for a sheriffs association?

Opinion 17-82 Digest: A full-time judge, in his/her capacity as administrator of a first-degree relative's estate, may act pro se at the closing for the estate's solely owned real property, where he/she will transfer an administrator's deed conferring ownership from the estate to the buyer, deposit the buyer's down payment into a title company's escrow account, compute and adjust routine home expenses such as taxes and utilities, and exchange checks payable by or to the estate.

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May 17, 2017 Broadcast

Opinion 16-112 Digest: A judge may join the Legal and Business Professionals of ____ County, a private social organization consisting of judges, lawyers, businesspeople, and law enforcement professionals interested in making their community a better place to work and live, even though its former name and mission statement inaccurately suggested a law enforcement orientation.

Opinion 17-20 May a judge serve on the nominating committee for his/her house of worship?

Opinion 17-24 Digest: A full-time judge who presides in a high-volume part may hold annual or semi-annual meetings with the attorneys who appear before him/her to discuss administrative issues. These meetings may not involve catered meals paid for by attorneys, but the judge may host "brown bag luncheons" to which the participants may bring their own meals.

Opinion 17-25 May a full-time judge serve on the tribunal of a not-for-profit entity as the representative of one of its constituent members, where the tribunal has "jurisdiction to hear and determine controversies and disputes" among various constituent members?

Opinion 17-27 May a full-time trial-level judge have discussions with various public and private entities concerning potential post-judicial employment? After leaving the bench, may the judge appear before former colleagues?

Opinion 17-30 May part-time judges organize a free community "Law Day" event to be held at a local library or historical society where local attorneys would offer free 10-minute private consultations to the public?

Opinion 17-34 On receiving a guilty plea by mail to a Vehicle & Traffic Law charge, may a judge send a form letter advising the defendant what his/her sentence will be if the court accepts the plea and stating that if the defendant wishes to change his/her plea to not guilty, he/she should appear in court at a specified date and time?

Opinion 17-35 May a judge speak to an audience of animal control officers about court procedures in dangerous-dog and unlicensed-dog cases?

Opinion 17-36 May a town justice serve as the town attorney for another town in the same county, where there will be no prosecutorial component to that town attorney position?

Opinion 17-44 Digest: A judge who believes a local attorney is under criminal investigation, but has no personal knowledge of any impropriety, may continue to preside in matters involving that attorney, provided the judge concludes he/she can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 17-45 May a town justice continue to serve as County Attorney in the same county where he/she presides?

Opinion 17-46 Digest: A part-time judge may also serve as head of a county agency responsible for enforcing a particular county law, where the agency is the licensing authority for an industry and has authority to commence civil administrative proceedings but (i) is unlikely to be involved directly or indirectly in any cases in the judge's court, (ii) has no authority to prosecute legal or criminal proceedings in any court, and (iii) has no police powers or functions.

Opinion 17-48 What are the obligations of a part-time lawyer judge who concludes that another judge, while presiding over a case, threatened to file a disciplinary complaint against the inquirer unless his/her client settled the case for a particular sum?

Opinion 17-73 May a village justice acquiesce in a proposed merger of the clerical offices of the village court and the village executive branch?

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May 5, 2017 Broadcast

Opinion 07-155/98-31 May a judge serve on a charter review commission to review and proposed amendments to a city or county charter?  Does it matter whether the judge is a part-time or full-time judge?

Opinion 16-173 May individual judges and a judicial association publicly advance a position that a Constitutional Convention would present a risk to the security of their pensions, which are currently protected by provisions of the State Constitution?

Opinion 16-176 Digest: A full-time judge may not accept a collectable music album from a press photographer who regularly covers cases in the inquiring judge's courtroom.

Opinion 17-03 Digest: (1) A judge who is disqualifying him/herself from cases involving New York City and its agencies due to his/her minor child's ongoing personal injury action against the city and its board of education may nonetheless preside in the following circumstances, assuming he/she can be fair and impartial:
(a) when a private law firm representing a defendant in the child's lawsuit appears before the judge in an unrelated matter, provided no party is appearing without counsel and the judge makes full disclosure on the record;
(b) in cases involving state public benefit corporations;
(c) in motions seeking to unseal records in possession of the District Attorney's Office, whether or not contested; and
(d) in a personal injury action against non-city defendants arising from an injury claimed to have occurred on a city street, notwithstanding that a separate action arising from the same injury, not pending before the judge, has been filed against the city. 
(2) In a matter where parties have requested records from the city (or one of its agencies) as a non-party:
(a) if the non-party city agency does not appear or take a position in the matter, the judge may continue to preside;
(b) if the non-party city agency appears or opposes a motion to quash or motion to unseal, the judge must either transfer the motion to another judge or disqualify him/herself, subject to remittal; but
(c) if a party files a motion seeking to punish a non-party city agency for contempt, the judge is disqualified from the entire case, subject to remittal.

Opinion 17-07 Must a judge report a real estate agent who forged his/her name on a letter of reference, mentioned the judge’s judicial status, and submitted the letter to a co-op board without the judge’s knowledge or consent?  Must a judge report an attorney he/she has never met, seen, or interacted with, based solely on information received from the judge’s relatives?

Opinion 17-12 May a full-time judge speak to not-for-profit organizations affiliated with a certain religion, including domestic and foreign parochial schools and places of worship, about his/her background and experience in becoming a judge, so as to encourage others to pursue a legal career?   If so, may the judge accept standard speaking fees and reasonable travel expenses?

Opinion 17-13 Where a judge's recusal for one attorney is specific to his/her personal assessment of that attorney's character, the judge is not disqualified from presiding in matters where that attorney's law partner appears as a part-time government attorney, provided that the judge can be fair and impartial.

Opinion 17-32 May a town judge permit his/her court clerks to certify that they will abide by the town ethics code?

Opinion 17-33 May a newly elected full-time judge complete his/her service as executor of a former client’s will by signing a deed necessary to transfer title to an heir?

Opinion 17-37 Digest: The Committee declines to answer hypothetical questions.

Opinion 17-41 Digest: A judge whose first-degree relative has been hired as a law advisor to the local police department on matters unrelated to criminal investigations and prosecutions may preside in cases involving the police, provided the judge can be fair and impartial and his/her relative is not involved in the case.

Opinion 17-43 Is there a way for a part-time judge who wishes to run for non-judicial office to inform the local municipality in advance that he/she plans to resign from judicial office on a particular date, without triggering the “resign to run” rule? 

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April 12, 2017 Special Broadcast

Opinion 17-38 (1) May a judge participate in a March for Science?  (2) May a judge (a) call a Senate Committee to express an opinion on a pending federal executive branch appointment; (b) sign a petition concerning a federal executive branch appointment; and/or (c) participate in a local political rally, march or demonstration sponsored by grassroots organizations? 

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March 31, 2017 Broadcast

Opinion 16-57 What are a judge's obligations when his/her second-degree relative, who formerly held a supervisory position in a government law office, becomes the subject of employment discrimination charges filed by a former subordinate?

Opinion 16-152 May a judge appear in a videotaped interview on behalf of a re-entry agency, which will be shown at the agency's fund-raising event?

Opinion 16-162 What are the obligations of a County Court judge whose full-time court attorney is now a town justice within the same county?

Opinion 16-164 Digest: A new full-time judge may continue to serve as a receiver in foreclosure pursuant to an appointment received before assuming the bench, provided his/her duties are ministerial in nature and completed within one year, if possible.

Opinion 16-174 What are a village justice's obligations once a local probation officer is appointed to serve on the village board? Does it make a difference if they will also be on the same slate in an upcoming election?

Opinion 16-175 Digest: While a judge need not separately scrutinize all pleadings to determine whether his/her client is the issuing officer, the judge must not take a guilty plea, either by mail or in person, if the client's role as issuing officer is readily available, such as in those instances where the officer's name appears on the ticket.

Opinion 16-178 Digest: A judicial association may not submit an amicus brief to the Court of Appeals in a pending appeal to express its members' concern, as trial judges, about the practical effects of a recent Appellate Division decision that trial judges lack statutory authority to take a particular action in connection with sentencing. The judicial association and/or individual judges may instead propose changes to applicable statutes which affect sentencing procedures in their courts. However, if it is not possible to advocate for the desired statutory change without publicly commenting on a specific, identifiable case, they must wait until the case is completely resolved.

Opinion 17-01 May a judge be a certified soccer referee member of a private, not-for-profit referee's association, and accept compensation for refereeing games? What restrictions apply for a full-time judge?

Opinion 17-02 May a part-time city court judge serve as a part-time attorney with legal aid in another county? What restrictions apply?

Opinion 17-05 May a judge continue to preside in a contentious post-judgment matrimonial proceeding after a party, whom the judge previously sanctioned, has sued the judge and others involved in the proceeding for defamation?

Opinion 17-06 Under the circumstances, is a judge required to take any additional steps in response to second-hand information about an attorney's alleged misconduct?

Opinion 17-08 Digest: A part-time judge whose former private employer has become the District Attorney has the following obligations when the District Attorney or his/her staff appears, during the two-year period following the termination of their former employment relationship: (1) In the first year, the judge is disqualified, subject to remittal, from presiding in any case involving the District Attorney's office; (2) In the second year, disclosure is mandated in lieu of disqualification, and the judge may exercise discretion in determining any motion for recusal. During the entire two-year period, the judge may not preside in a case involving the District Attorney's office if a party is appearing without counsel.

Opinion 17-10 May a newly elected judge preside over matters that arose during his/her prior tenure as the County Attorney?

Opinion 17-11 Digest: (1) It is a judge's obligation to determine whether a lay organization for men of a particular ethnicity and religion engages in invidious discrimination. (2) A full-time judge may perform with a non-profit orchestra and other musical groups that are not business entities and accept reasonable compensation for his/her performances, subject to certain limitations. (3) A full-time judge may publish his/her own musical compositions and receive royalties and performance rights fees for them.

Opinion 17-14 Digest: (1) A multi-bench judge who has reported an attorney is disqualified from all matters in which the reported attorney appears, regardless of court or county, and regardless of whether the reported attorney is appearing as a public defender or a private attorney. The disqualification lasts while the disciplinary proceeding is pending and for two years after it is resolved. Remittal is not available during this period unless the grievance committee imposes public discipline or the reported attorney waives confidentiality. (2) Where the reported attorney is a part-time judge, the disqualification extends to cases in which the reported attorney has acted as a judge. (3) Where the reported attorney represents a defendant/participant in Treatment Court, the judge may not preside in the defendant/participant's case, even if the reported attorney files a waiver of appearance.

Opinion 17-15 May a Family Court judge send a sympathy card to the family of a decedent who was formerly the subject of juvenile delinquency proceedings before the judge?

Opinion 17-17 Where an attorney has unsuccessfully sought the judge's recusal in one case, and then filed a disciplinary complaint against a judge for declining to recuse, does the judge have an ongoing conflict with the attorney's law firm mandating the judge's recusal in all cases involving that law firm?

Opinion 17-18 Digest: A part-time judge may suggest that local legislators amend a penal statute to include a potential jail sentence so that, for alleged violations after the effective date, the court may issue an arrest warrant to produce recalcitrant defendants.

Opinion 17-19 When a judge's former court attorney has become the District Attorney, and the judge is therefore disqualified from matters involving the DA's office for one year, is such disqualification subject to remittal?

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March 8, 2017 Broadcast

Opinion 16-140 May a judge consider a defendant's written form application for assigned counsel ex parte and make a determination of financial eligibility on an ex parte basis, where the form focuses solely on the defendant's financial information and does not invite substantive communications? What factors distinguish Opinion 16-68 and Opinion 16-140?

Opinion 16-143 Digest: (1) Where a part-time lawyer judge's law practice associate is representing a client in another court in the same county before another part-time lawyer judge, the judge may not personally participate in the representation by meeting with the client or discussing the case with opposing counsel, even if such activities will take place away from the courthouse. (2) The judge may nonetheless directly supervise a subordinate attorney who is representing the law practice's clients in such matters, provided such supervision takes place in private, without involvement of the client, opposing parties or counsel, or the court in which the matter is heard.

Opinion 16-150 May two judicial candidates in a contested election send a joint mailing to voters who request an absentee ballot?

Opinion 16-156 Digest: A judge should not send a thank you note in response to a laudatory ex parte letter from an attorney who recently appeared before the judge.

Opinion 16-157 Digest: A full-time judge (1) may informally refer at-risk youth to religious or secular educational programs, assuming he/she does not frequently preside in matters involving at-risk youth and such programs do not appear before the judge or accept court referrals; (2) may serve as a paramedic with a local volunteer ambulance corps; (3) may not serve on the board of a regional emergency medical services council; and (4) may participate in a documentary film concerning his/her volunteer activities if it is produced by a not-for-profit entity, but may not participate in a commercially produced documentary.

Opinion 16-161 May a full-time judge serve on the admissions committee of a country club?

Opinion 16-166 Is a judge disqualified from presiding in matters involving the District Attorney's office where (i) his/her law clerk is a former assistant district attorney and (ii) the law clerk's second-degree relative is currently an assistant district attorney?

Opinion 16-167 May a town justice simultaneously serve as a federal prosecutor?

Opinion 16-168 May a judge appoint his/her former campaign treasurer to serve as a referee in a foreclosure action?

Opinion 16-179 Digest: A judge may be a member of an all-female volunteer EMT service which responds to calls from women in a particular faith community who need emergency care, where the service was established to expand opportunities for women in the community and to preserve significant religious or cultural values of legitimate common interest to community members. However, a judge may not serve as director of the entity if that role requires him/her to personally engage in fund-raising and/or recruitment activities.

Opinion 17-04 Digest: A judge may not attend a three-day human trafficking seminar sponsored by federal prosecutorial and law enforcement agencies, where the program will focus primarily on strategies for effective prosecution.

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January 19, 2017 Broadcast

Opinion 16-132 Must a judge report a litigant's former attorney for alleged, unspecified sexual misconduct briefly alluded to in open court and in the attorney's absence?

Opinion 16-135 May a judge publicly advocate for a change in the Penal Law by writing to executive and legislative bodies and/or officials, as well as other potentially interested parties? Must the judge notify local prosecutors and/or defense counsel of his/her proposal so they can respond to it?

Opinion 16-144 May a judge whose law clerk becomes the District Attorney preside over criminal cases in veterans court?

Opinion 16-145 May a county Magistrates Association, at the request of a bar association and the county executive, comment on the bar association’s proposed assigned counsel plan before it is implemented by the county?

Opinion 16-147 May a town or village justice accept an invitation from a landlords’ association to participate in a panel discussion and answer questions about summary proceedings, evictions and holdover tenants?

Opinion 16-148 May a full-time judge serve as a director of a local not-for-profit Urban League, which seeks “[t]o provide opportunities for members of all communities in our city to have access to education, employment and a living environment that fosters mutual respect”?

Opinion 16-149 May a judge attend a free, non-partisan “meet the candidates” event, organized by a non-political community residents’ association, where all candidates for a particular office (i.e., both parties' candidates) will attend, speak and answer questions?

Opinion 16-151 May sitting judges serve as mentors to attorneys who wish to seek judicial office, as part of an official court-sponsored program to help promote diversity in the judiciary? What limitations apply?

Opinion 16-153 (1) May a trial judge whose minor child is participating in a charitable fund-raiser personally participate in the child’s fund-raising efforts by asking family, close friends, neighbors, and judicial colleagues to make pledges on the child’s behalf? (2) If not, may the judge assist the child in making such solicitations by telephone or in person, by placing telephone calls or escorting the child to a neighbor’s home? (3) If permitted to accompany the child, may the judge supplement or clarify the child’s explanation, as needed, regarding the nature of the fund-raiser?

Opinion 16-154 May a judge disclose his/her habitability concerns to a local code enforcement officer? May the judge also issue a warrant for the code enforcement officer to enter the premises?

Opinion 16-158 May a judge attend a “Casino Night” fund-raiser at his/her child’s private pre-school and participate as a player?

Opinion 16-159 What are the ethical obligations of a judge who is dissatisfied with an attorney's explanation of the propriety of his/her conduct in connection with a proposed default divorce decree?

Opinion 16-160 What cases may a part-time judge preside over, once his/her first-degree relative becomes the police chief for the municipality where the judge presides?

Opinion 16-163/16-170 Where a full-time judge is both a former assistant public defender and a former private law firm partner, and his/her former law firm colleague supervises all attorneys in the Public Defender's office, what are his/her obligations in cases involving the Public Defender's office?

Opinion 16-165 What are the obligations of a village justice who learns that the village plans to hire the village prosecutor's spouse as a full-time village court clerk?

Opinion 16-169 May a judge circulate a petition to force a referendum on a proposed sale of a large nearby parcel of land owned by his/her local school district, where the petition does not take a position for or against the proposed sale and is not framed as support for or opposition to any legislator or political party or candidate?

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December 7, 2016 Broadcast

Opinion 15-147 What is a judge's obligation on learning that he/she should have recused him/herself from a particular case, when the judge learns of this ethical mistake only after he/she had already issued his/her final decision or judgment?

Opinion 16-117 May a full-time judge teach a fitness class for a not-for-profit educational, charitable or civic organization? May the judge accept the organization's standard per-session compensation for instructors?

Opinion 16-119 May a JHO represent clients on real estate transactions and matters in Surrogate's Court in the same county where he/she serves as a JHO? When are such matters deemed "contested" under 22 NYCRR 122.10(c)? May the JHO's law firm colleagues assume the representation on contested matters once the JHO withdraws from the representation?

Opinion 16-120 May a judge who is conflicted from presiding in a criminal defendant's Outley hearing nonetheless resume presiding over the underlying case and sentence the defendant, once the Outley hearing is concluded?

Opinion 16-122 May a judge preside in matters involving an attorney who previously represented the judge's third-degree relative (a niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, great-grandparent or great-grandchild), after the representation has completely terminated and all fees are paid? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 16-123 Does the disclosure required by Opinion 14-51 (for attorneys personally involved in prosecuting or defending the judge's second-degree relative) terminate on the judge's relative's death? If not, must the judge now also disclose that his/her relative died, and reveal the cause of death?

Opinion 16-137 May a part-time judge accept employment as a salaried conflict defender in the county where the judge presides? If so, may the judge appear as a conflict defender before other part-time judges in the same county who are permitted to practice law?

Opinion 16-141 Where the Commission on Judicial Conduct has charged a judge with misconduct in a formal written complaint, signed and verified by the Commission’s administrator (see Judiciary Law § 44[4]), based on an initial report or complaint filed by the county’s District Attorney, may the judge thereafter preside in criminal matters involving the District Attorney's office? The judge notes that an assistant district attorney usually appears on behalf of the office, and there may be no personal appearance by the DA or any ADA in matters such as mail pleas or negotiated resolutions of traffic matters. The judge further notes that the Commission on Judicial Conduct has not directed that a hearing be held.

Opinion 16-142 May a town or village justice permit the part-time court clerk to assume a second part-time position with the same municipality, working for the municipal prosecutor in a strictly clerical capacity?

Opinion 16-146 Where a judge has filed a disciplinary complaint against the county's District Attorney, may the judge thereafter preside in criminal matters involving the District Attorney's office? The judge notes that assistant district attorneys from that office did not participate in the purported misconduct.

Opinion 16-155 What steps should a judge take on learning that his/her second-degree relative has, in his/her capacity as a member of a religious institution, commenced an informal counseling relationship with a defendant who is appearing before the judge in a long-running high-profile criminal matter?

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