Opinion 21-188


March 7, 2022



Dear : 


         This responds to your inquiry (21-188) asking if you, a full-time judge, may continue to serve as one of many class representatives in federal court. You have stated that the suit was filed with you as a class representative, before you took the bench. The defendant is a multi-national corporation, and the class is represented by attorneys from outside New York, who do not practice in your jurisdiction.


         We have said that “the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not preclude a judge from exercising the same rights as any other citizen when appearing as a litigant” (Opinion 12-96; see Opinion 93-05). A judge may generally be named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit after assuming the bench (see Opinion 03-139). Even where a judge should not voluntarily intervene in a case, they are “not required to withdraw from litigation solely because, during its pendency, [they assume] the bench,” provided that the judge thereafter is represented by counsel (Opinion 87-11).


         As the subject matter of the class action does not implicate your judicial duties, you may continue as a named class representative. However, you may not refer to your judicial title or status in connection with the lawsuit (Opinion 12-96).


         Enclosed for your convenience are Opinions 12-96; 03-139; 93-05; 87-11 which address this issue.


                                                 Very truly yours,



                                                 Margaret T. Walsh

                                                 Supreme Court Justice

                                                Committee Co-Chair


                                                 Lillian Wan

                                                 Supreme Court Justice

                                                 Committee Co-Chair