Opinion 21-77

May 19, 2021

Dear :


         This responds to your inquiry (21-77) asking whether you may simultaneously serve as Assigned Counsel Administrator and village justice in the same county. The Assigned Counsel Administrator has numerous duties including assigning private attorneys to represent defendants in criminal proceedings where there is a conflict with the public defenders’ office, reviewing and approving vouchers submitted by assigned counsel, and preparing and submitting funding requests to certain offices and municipalities.

         A part-time justice is permitted to practice law provided that such employment is not incompatible with judicial office and does not conflict or interfere with the proper performance of the judge’s duties (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[G]; 100.6[B][1] and [4]). A judge’s duties take precedence over all of the judge’s other activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.3[A]).


The Committee has previously advised that a part-time justice should not also serve as administrator of the county’s assigned counsel program or conflict defender’s office. Similarly, we have also advised that a part-time justice whose court has a significant criminal calendar, in which most defendants are represented by assigned counsel at arraignment, may not serve as deputy administrator of the assigned counsel program.


Therefore, in accordance with the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and our prior opinions, it would be ethically impermissible to continue serving as the Assigned Counsel Administrator if you are successful in seeking part-time judicial office.


         Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 18-149 and 09-178 which address this issue.

                                                 Very truly yours,

                                                 Margaret T. Walsh

                                                 Committee Co-Chair

                                                 Supreme Court Justice

                                                 Lilian Wan

                                                 Committee Co-Chair

                                                 Acting Supreme Court Justice