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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 the date of distribution.
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  • For a list of earlier broadcast opinions, please visit the Broadcast Opinions Archive.

The Committee does not accept inquiries by e-mail. If you have a question about judicial ethics, please call the Committee at 1-866-79-JUDGE [58343] for assistance.

 

February 2, 2016 Broadcast

Opinion 14-147 May a judge preside over cases involving an attorney who is a law firm colleague of the judge's uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, great-grandparent, or great-grandchild?

Opinion 15-61 May a judge appear on a panel program to discuss a decision recently issued by the judge, when the time to appeal has not expired and an attorney who argued the case before the judge would be a fellow panelist?

Opinion 15-102 May a judge compete in the World Series of Poker?

Opinion 15-115 May a town justice permit the town court clerk to meet with the court clerk's former employer to explain notes the court clerk made during his/her prior employment?

Opinion 15-120 May a judge join in an advertising campaign intended to lobby political support and funding for union contract renewals for the judge's alma mater?

Opinion 15-122 May a judge accept the gift of a food platter from a former judge who has resumed the practice of law and is now practicing in the judge’s court?

Opinion 15-128 May a new full-time judge, whose former law partner is temporarily unavailable for medical reasons, continue to accept and deposit fees, issue checks to clients and the firm and pay expenses as necessary to wind up the law firm’s affairs until the partner recovers or new counsel is hired? May the judge use law firm letterhead after assuming judicial office to explain the circumstances to judges presiding over his/her former partner’s cases and to request adjournments as needed?

Opinion 15-134 May a full-time principal law clerk who is a part-time SCAR hearing officer (1) run for or serve as a delegate to a political party’s judicial nominating convention, (2) apply for and become a notary public, and/or (3) circulate nominating petitions?

Opinion 15-161 What are the obligations of a judge whose realtor spouse has been offered an appointment to serve as a real estate broker on behalf of a trust that is jointly administered by another judge and an attorney who does not appear before the inquiring judge?

Opinion 15-179 May a judge give a presentation on recognizing and reducing racial prejudice to an audience consisting exclusively of attorneys who represent a certain category of litigants in a specialized court?

Opinion 15-207 May a judge preside over cases in which the judge's electoral opponent represents the county as prosecuting attorney?

Opinion 15-212 May a judge preside over cases involving lawyers who sought to contribute to the judge’s spouse’s recent political campaign?

Opinion 15-213 May a judge serve as a board member and secretary for a not-for-profit charity that provides services to underprivileged children and families, where the charity does not appear in the judge's court but employs social workers who appear in another court and who meet with that court's resource coordinators from time to time?

Opinion 15-222 May a judge make a charitable donation to help establish a new mentoring program for at-risk youth, where the program is sponsored by certain county public defenders?

 

December 7, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-45 May a judge preside in cases involving a government law office, once the judge's former close personal friend and law partner assumes a supervisory position in the office?

Opinion 15-50 May a judge, in order to collect fines or surcharges he/she imposed on a defendant for parking violations, contact another court to ask that payment be made a condition of any disposition of the defendant’s case in the other court?

Opinion 15-51 Must a full-time judge disqualify him/herself in a case involving a client of the judge’s former law firm, where the judge's former law firm still owes the judge undistributed capital but is not involved in the case before the judge, and the judge had minimal contact with this client while with the law firm?

Opinion 15-58 May a judge whose court attorney is elected District Attorney preside in cases involving the District Attorney's office?

Opinion 15-59 Is a part-time judge who also works for a financial institution disqualified from all matters involving his/her non-judicial employer’s landlord?

Opinion 15-72 May a full-time judge attend a dispute mediation service’s volunteer recognition dinner?

Opinion 15-74 May a judge who has personal knowledge of a convicted defendant awaiting sentencing in federal court, in response to a subpoena, submit an affidavit in letter form to the sentencing judge requesting leniency for the defendant?

Opinion 15-77 May a judge make a financial contribution to Planned Parenthood?

Opinion 15-79 May a judge participate in a non-fund-raising National Day of Prayer event, lead a prayer, and be identified as a judge?

Opinion 15-80 May a judge may continue to preside in a case after learning the parties have engaged in occasional, discrete business transactions with the judge’s parents’ manufacturing corporation in matters entirely unrelated to the case?

Opinion 15-82 Does a previously granted remittal of disqualification remain effective if a party afterward discharges his/her attorney and proceeds pro se?

Opinion 15-83 May a judicial candidate personally guarantee to PayPal and credit card issuers that he/she will use his/her personal funds to repay them for “chargebacks” for monies mistakenly or wrongfully paid to the candidate’s campaign?

Opinion 15-86 May a part-time lawyer judge preside in cases involving a lawyer who is the sibling of the judge's law firm associate?

Opinion 15-89 What are a judge's obligations on learning that his/her name was listed on the invitation to a not-for-profit organization’s fundraiser, where the judge's name was listed with all other directors on the back of the invitation, but the organization's regular letterhead does not include the names of its directors?

Opinion 15-93 May a judge serve as a panelist in a local college’s program on perceptions and realities of the criminal justice system?

Opinion 15-101 May a judge who presides in a treatment-oriented problem solving court serve as a job reference for a defendant/participant who recently appeared before the judge, where the judge would merely provide objective observations based on reliable personal knowledge about the individual, drawn from many months of regular court appearances, reports and discussions?

Opinion 15-112/15-146 May a judicial candidate (1) pay individuals for time spent circulating petitions and gathering signatures in order to put the candidate’s name on the ballot or (2) pay a 50% bonus to his/her campaign manager if the candidate is elected?

Opinion 15-127 May judges delegate to their court clerks the authority to impose a pre-determined fine for traffic infractions, by means of a standing court order with a fixed schedule of fines?

Opinion 15-158 May a non-judge who is currently employed as a peace officer in a community college resign his/her peace officer status and accept a new role as a campus security officer for the same institution, after becoming a part-time judge in a nearby municipality?

Opinion 15-176 May a judge reveal, discuss and explore his/her interest in receiving an interim appointment to non-judicial office with the public official who will make that decision if the position becomes vacant before the incumbent's term ends?

Opinion 15-177 Where a judge has objected to an event that was organized in the judge's name without the judge's authorization, and the event has been canceled at the judge's request, must the judge take any further action?

Opinion 15-180 Where a judge has received information indicating a substantial likelihood that an attorney has committed a substantial violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and has further concluded that the apparent misconduct seriously calls into question the attorney’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law, may the judge nonetheless refrain from reporting the apparent misconduct to the grievance committee if (a) the misconduct was covered extensively in the media and (b) the judge believes the attorney's former employer may have reported the misconduct?

Opinion 15-181 May a part-time judge maintain concurrent employment with a private company which provides risk and threat assessments to various entities?

Opinion 15-182 May a judge who wrote and published a law-related book go on a book tour, where the judge will conduct book signings and speak at bookstores, law schools, and bar associations in New York and elsewhere, and permit copies of the book to be available for purchase at such events? May the judge permit a commercial television producer to make a television series based on the judge’s book for a commercial television station? If so, may the judge serve as a host for the television series or be interviewed for the series?

Opinion 15-184 May a judge attend a meeting with the local STOP DWI Coordinator and the Sheriff’s Department to discuss methods of collecting unpaid fines from defendants sentenced on DWI convictions?

Opinion 15-191 May a judge preside when other attorneys from the firm where his/her niece or nephew is an associate appear?

Opinion 15-194 On becoming a part-time village justice, may an attorney (1) continue to practice law as a solo practitioner in the same county where he/she will preside and (2) preside over cases when his/her former law partner appears?

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October 28, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-08 Where a judge is (or recently has been) a party in a contested matrimonial action, and his/her spouse (or ex-spouse) is a private attorney, what are the judge's obligations (1) when the spouse’s law firm colleagues appear before the judge on other matters; (2) when the judge’s attorney or the spouse’s attorney appears; and (3) when an expert who evaluated a marital asset appears?

Opinion 15-12 May a judge accept free tickets and parking vouchers for a game of his/her choice from a local sports team that has not recently appeared before the judge and is not likely to do so?

Opinion 15-33 (1) What are a judge's obligations when the judge’s spouse’s former law firm appears before the judge, on matters in which the judge's spouse had no involvement, while the law firm maintains a fee interest in eight other cases handled by the judge's spouse? (2) What are a judge's obligations when attorneys to whom the judge’s spouse has referred occasional, discrete cases, or from whom the judge’s spouse has received such cases, appear in the judge’s court?

Opinion 15-34 May a judge approve a plea agreement which requires a defendant to participate in a district attorney’s traffic ticket diversion program, when the program involves a non-refundable application fee?

Opinion 15-52 May a judge preside in a case where a clerical court employee, not the judge’s personal appointee, had previously provided freelance transcription services to a private attorney?

Opinion 15-137 Must a judge disclose or disqualify him/herself from cases in which his/her co-judge's spouse has served (or may serve) as a social worker for a defendant on referral by the probation department?

Opinion 15-141 May a full-time judge co-author a treatise on a specialized area of law and accept royalties from the sales of the book?

Opinion 15-149 May a full-time judge (1) serve as a paid, part-time adjunct professor at a private law school; (2) serve on the board of a private, not-for-profit school that the judge's child attends; (3) serve on the school's audit committee; (4) serve on the school's academic affairs committee; (5) serve on the board of directors of the judge's condominium; and/or (6) serve on a bar association committee?

Opinion 15-152 May a judge accept a plea conditioned on a defendant writing an essay about traffic safety?

Opinion 15-155 May a judge preside in a matter where the judge and his/her spouse own a de minimis interest in a large corporation that is a party in the matter?

Opinion 15-159 May a town justice consent to the appointment of his/her first-degree relative as town court clerk and permit his/her relative to continue full-time clerical employment with a private law firm that appears in the court twice a year?

Opinion 15-162 May a law clerk who serves as a SCAR Hearing Officer (1) write and publish a children’s book with a commercial publisher public and accept royalties and/or (2) personally market and sell the book?

Opinion 15-168 May a judge preside when an attorney who served as a reference for the judge's judicial appointment appears before the judge more than two years after the appointment?

Opinion 15-170 May a judge permit his/her Chief Clerk to serve on an advisory committee charged with helping develop a mediation program for the judge's court in order to represent the court’s interests?

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September 28, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-15 May a full-time judge serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit local development corporation?

Opinion 15-16 May a village justice preside when village police officers appear in the village court?

Opinion 15-19 What are the obligations of a full-time judge who learns that his/her former law firm is still using the judge's name in its signage, letterhead, or other materials?

Opinion 15-20 May a town justice accept concurrent employment as a County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator?

Opinion 15-21 What are a judge's obligations when he/she learns that the county executive proposes to state truthfully, during an upcoming state of the county address, that the judge is a satisfied user of a county-run public transportation system?

Opinion 15-23 May a judge who teaches at a law school, but has no role in a pro bono clinical program organized as a separate legal entity from the law school, appoint the clinic and its qualified participants to fiduciary positions, and award fees as permitted by applicable rules and law?

Opinion 15-25 May a Family Court judge permit his/her court attorney to serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit organization which provides certain services to low-income residents in the region?

Opinion 15-30 May a judge affirmatively assist a newspaper in improving the accuracy of its reporting by regularly supplying factual information to the newspaper about cases in the judge’s court

Opinion 15-32 May a judge who is a resident shareholder and proprietary lessee in a cooperative housing corporation preside over tax certiorari cases brought by the law firm that represents the judge’s own building or housing corporation, on behalf of other clients?

Joint Opinion 15-35/15-75  (1) May a judge whose first-degree relative was killed by a driver who was charged with driving under the influence preside over cases involving persons charged with driving under the influence? (2) May a judge who was previously a victim of domestic violence preside over cases involving domestic violence allegations?

Opinion 15-39  May a judge preside in criminal matters involving domestic violence charges, if the judge knows that the probation department is likely to refer defendants who are convicted of crimes involving domestic violence charges to a program run by the judge’s social worker spouse?

Opinion 15-42 May a judge and his/her family share their experience with a not-for-profit religious organization’s summer camp with other families who are considering sending their children to the camp, at the request of the organization?

Opinion 15-43 What are a judge's obligations when a case that comes before the judge is one that the judge's law clerk had been personally involved in during the law clerk's former employment in a government law office? What are the judge's obligations with respect to other cases that were pending in that government law office during the law clerk's former employment, where the law clerk was in a non-supervisory role and had no personal involvement in the case.

Opinion 15-46 Where a judge's real estate purchase contract recently terminated by its terms without a resulting sale, may the judge preside in search warrant applications in which the prospective seller appears?

Opinion 15-47 May a judge require, as a condition of joining a treatment court program, that the defendant must agree to participate in an exercise program? If so, may the judge thereafter attend or participate in the exercise program together with treatment court participants?

Opinion 15-48 May a magistrates’ association publicly support a resolution urging a legislative change to assist local taxpayers in funding their local justice courts?

Opinion 15-57 May a judge accept an invitation to attend and participate in an out-of-state conference on women and justice that is co-sponsored by a law school, a limited liability company, and a law firm? If so, may the judge accept the law school’s offer to pay for the judge's accommodations?

Opinion 15-60 Once a judge has taken appropriate and effective remedial steps to mitigate his/her alma mater’s use of the judge’s name on invitations to the school’s fund-raiser, may the judge attend the event as an ordinary attendee?

Opinion 15-63 May a judge who was “of counsel” to a law firm five years ago and its tenant a decade ago a partner of that firm to a Part 36 fiduciary appointment?

Opinion 15-65 What are a judge's obligations on learning that a letter he/she wrote decades ago in his/her former capacity as a non-judicial official is being anonymously circulated for partisan political purposes?

Opinion 15-68 May a judicial hearing officer participate in a bar association’s pro bono help desk at a court from which he/she accepts judicial hearing officer assignments?

Opinion 15-69 What are the disqualification obligations of a court attorney referee who did not personally report an attorney's misconduct to the grievance committee but instead advised the referring judge of his/her concerns so that the referring judge could make the report?

Opinion 15-71 May a judicial candidate participate in a pro-choice or pro-life advocacy organization’s interview process, answer questions during the interview, and, if offered, accept the organization’s endorsement?

Opinion 15-85 May a judge sua sponte review a defendant’s driving history before accepting or rejecting a proposed plea agreement? If so, must the judge disclose the contents of the driving history to the parties and counsel?

Opinion 15-92(A) May a judge serve as an officer of his/her religious institution, preach sermons, make administrative announcements, and allow his/her sermons to be broadcast via live streaming on the internet?

Opinion 15-92(B) May a judge write and forward a consular letter of invitation inviting family members to visit the judge in the United States, where this letter will set forth facts concerning the judge's income and its source in order to demonstrate that the judge is a responsible person who is able to meet the material and accommodation needs of the persons invited? If so, may the judge use judicial stationery for such a letter?

Opinion 15-107/15-110 Is disclosure or disqualification required in a criminal case if a co-judge's spouse has served, or may serve, as a social worker for the defendant on referral by the probation department?

Opinion 15-114 May a judge preside over a case involving the law firm of an attorney who represented the judge at a negotiation session in the judge's matrimonial matter, where the attorney now appearing before judge was completely insulated from any involvement in the judge's matrimonial matter? Is disclosure required?

Opinion 15-121 May a judicial candidate permit his/her campaign committee to establish Facebook connections with the campaign committees of other candidates on the same slate?

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August 4, 2015 Broadcast

(See archive for additional opinions broadcast on this date.)

Opinion 15-03 May a judge chair a committee which informs members of a religious congregation of their membership fees?

Opinion 15-07 May a town judge voluntarily undertake to clear snow from the driveway of an abandoned property near his/her home as a public service?

Opinion 15-26/15-44 May a judge attend (1) an annual fund-raising event for a not-for profit organization that provides services and support to victims of domestic abuse and child abuse and/or (2) a non-fund-raising breakfast organized by a consortium of domestic violence agencies to promote discussion of current issues related to domestic violence, including recent and pending domestic violence legislation?

Opinion 15-62 What are a judge's obligations when the judge's spouse, who is a principal in a real estate LLC, wishes to rent a storefront to a partisan political organization?

Opinion 15-87 May a judge preside in cases involving the District Attorney’s office, when a co-judge’s spouse is employed as an Assistant District Attorney?

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July 28, 2015 Broadcast

(See archive for additional opinions broadcast on this date.)

Opinion 15-06 May a town or village justice whose first-degree relative is a social worker in the local probation department’s domestic violence division preside in cases involving the probation department and/or allegations of domestic violence?

Opinion 15-40 May a judge whose spouse is the director of the regional chamber of commerce preside when an entity before the judge is a member of the chamber of commerce?

Opinion 15-90 May a judge accept an invitation to attend a bar association’s annual dinner as the guest of a law firm, where the cost of the dinner is approximately $500?

Opinion 15-96 May a judge receive, as part of an equitable distribution, a percentage of the future legal fees earned by his/her former spouse upon the settlement or verdict of any cases deemed part of the former spouse's law practice?  If so, what are the judge’s obligations when adverse counsel from those cases appear before the judge on unrelated matters?

Opinion 15-98 May a magistrates’ association send a letter expressing its position on legislation addressing a perceived disparity in the distribution of monies collected by New York's town and village courts, which affects the operation of such courts?

Opinion 15-106 Must a judge disclose that he/she engaged in a brief and non-substantive conversation with an attorney at a bar association function, while the attorney had a case pending before the judge? 

Opinion 15-108 May a judge preside when his/her co-judge’s child, or a law firm with which the co-judge’s child is affiliated as special counsel, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-109 May a part-time judge who is also employed full-time with a university engage in fund-raising from alumni, parents and friends of the university if such individuals reside outside New York State? 

Opinion 15-116 May a part-time town justice accept appointment as the town’s tax collector?

Opinion 15-118 May a full-time judge accept an invitation to become a member of a not-for-profit organization which has as its primary purpose the promotion of the culture of a particular religion as well as certain charitable works?

Opinion 15-123 May a part-time judge become a member of a governmental advisory committee on services for senior citizens?

Opinion 15-136 May a judge permit a student to make an audiovisual recording of a court proceeding?

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June 26, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-14 What steps must an appellate judge take once the judge learns that his/her law clerk is seeking post-clerkship employment?

Opinion 15-18 May a judge preside in cases involving protestors, arrested on the same charges as the judge's second-degree relatives, where the judge's relatives are not parties and are unlikely to be material witnesses?

Opinion 15-56 May a judge post the procedure for resolving a traffic ticket on the Unified Court System's website?

Opinion 15-64 May a judge permit two defense attorneys who regularly appear before him/her to include the judge’s name as a reference on an application nominating the judge’s court attorney for an award from a legal publication?

Opinion 15-67 May a judge who is a former prosecutor preside in a case involving a formerly incarcerated individual's claim of actual innocence, under the totality of the circumstances presented?

Opinion 15-70 What is a judge’s ethical obligation when he/she learns that another judge appeared in his/her court and attempted to influence the outcome of a relative’s case?

Opinion 15-76 May a judge participate in a bar association CLE program entitled "Social Media Ethics Guidelines for Attorneys" when the panel includes law partners from various law firms?

Opinion 15-81 May a judge accept a bar association's gift of complimentary admission to an upcoming law-related conference for the judge and a guest, along with food and lodging expenses, where the total value of the gift is approximately $1500?

Opinion 15-88 May a judge preside when an attorney appearing in the judge’s court is also representing the judge’s child in an unrelated, contested matrimonial action?

Opinion 15-91 May a judge serve as a clothing model at a not-for-profit fund-raising luncheon/fashion show which includes raffles and a silent auction?

Opinion 15-95 What is a judge’s ethical obligation when the judge’s insurance company, which recently represented the interests of the judge or the judge’s first degree relative in two civil actions, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-97 Is it ethically permissible for a judge to accept reimbursement for the cost of lodging for two nights in connection with performing an out-of-town wedding for a good friend?

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June 24, 2015 Broadcast

(See archive for additional opinions broadcast on this date.)

Opinion 15-01 May a non-judge who is seeking election or appointment to judicial office remain employed as a police officer until he/she takes and files his/her oath of office as a judge??

Opinion 15-02 May a judge preside in DWI cases involving blood drawn at a hospital where, in the judge's capacity as a physician, he/she is responsible for regulatory compliance with the hospital's emergency department phlebotomy services?

Opinion 15-04 Is an incumbent judge's public announcement that he/she will retire from the bench on a specific date, when coupled with an additional significant and reliable affirmative step to effectuate his/her retirement, sufficient to create a known judicial vacancy for the purpose of determining when the window period opens and individuals may publicly announce their interest in seeking election to the position?

Opinion 15-05 Must a judge disclose that his/her spouse is the administrative assistant to a councilperson, and in that capacity schedules appointments for the councilperson's constituents with a pro bono attorney, when a litigant who was assisted by the councilperson's pro bono attorney appears before the judge?

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May 20, 2015 Broadcast

Opinion 15-09 May a part-time City Court judge concurrently serve in the non-supervisory position of full-time deputy county attorney?

Opinion 15-17 May a judge play in a band, which usually performs without pay, at charitable events, block parties and parties for friends?

Opinion 15-22 What action, if any, is a judge required to take when the judge believes an attorney who is running for judicial office made an improper political contribution in violation of 22 NYCRR 100.5?

Opinion 15-24 May a judge agree to be profiled in a local, bimonthly publication and featured on its cover where the resulting article would address the judge's legal career, current judicial position, personal life and possibly prior public service?

Opinion 15-37 May a judge who has been publicly disciplined as a result of complaints made by the local prosecutor's office and the local public defender's office preside in matters in which attorneys from these offices appear?

Opinion 15-38 What is a judge's ethical obligation when the judge's former law firm associate, who is now an assistant district attorney, appears before the judge?

Opinion 15-41 May a judge preside when his/her co-judge's child appears before the judge as an attorney?

Opinion 15-53 Is a judge disqualified from presiding in a civil action after testifying in a separate criminal proceeding, pursuant to a subpoena, about the orders and directives he/she issued in the civil action?

Opinion 15-54 Is a judge obligated to report two prosecutors to an attorney grievance committee based on what the judge believes to be professional misconduct?

Opinion 15-55 Is disclosure required when an attorney appearing before the judge supported the judge's judicial candidacy at a judicial nominating convention nearly a decade ago?

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February 25, 2015 Broadcast

(See archive for additional opinions broadcast on this date.)

Opinion 15-10 May a judge preside in cases involving a local county agency where the judge was previously employed as a supervising attorney?

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