Opinion 20-189

January 20, 2021

Dear :

         This responds to your inquiry (20-189) asking whether it is legally and ethically permissible for you to continue serving as a town-court justice if your first-degree relative runs for and is elected to the co-judge position in the same court.

While the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a judge from appointing or voting for the appointment of any person within the fourth degree of relationship as a member of the court of which the judge is also member (see 22 NYCRR 100.3[C][3]), there is no ethical impropriety in continuing to serve if your first-degree relative is elected co-judge to the same court.


To the extent your inquiry raises legal issues, the Committee is not authorized to address them (see 22 NYCRR 101.1 and Judiciary Law § 212[2][l]).


Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 03-136 and 91-101 which address this issue.

                                                 Very truly yours,

                                                 Margaret T. Walsh

                                                 Supreme Court Justice

                                                 Committee Co-Chair


                                                 Lillian Wan

                                                 Acting Supreme Court Justice

                                                 Committee Co-Chair