By Committee on Judicial Ethics | November 28, 2023
(1) On the facts presented, it is necessary to amend the proposed form to make clear that any disposition of the matter by way of a plea is subject to court approval. (2) Once that change is made, there is no ethical impropriety in the proposed simplified form that would neutrally inform defendant motorists who have mailed in "not guilty" pleas on alleged Vehicle and Traffic Law violations of all their options (including the right to retain an attorney; to continue to plead not guilty and have a trial; to plead guilty and waive the right to trial; and the possibility of communicating directly with the prosecutor to negotiate a mutually acceptable disposition subject to the court's approval).
By Committee on Judicial Ethics | November 27, 2023
Will the Committee reconsider Opinion 22-131, based on the provided details of specific assignments as family court chief clerk/court clerk and town justice in the same county? Is there a time limit on the insulation and disqualification obligations set forth in Opinion 22-131?
By Committee on Judicial Ethics | November 26, 2023
A judge need not disclose or disqualify from a case merely because a party's high-level employee, who will be present in the courtroom, also (1) was previously a client of the judge more than two years ago and (2) is married to a public official who was recently on the same slate as the judge and publicly endorsed the judge.
By Committee on Judicial Ethics | November 23, 2023
A full-time judge may not request that federal and state legislators protect the power grids from electromagnetic nuclear attack, as this does not relate to the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice, and does not involve an identified cognizable personal interest. Further, issues generated by the legislation the judge seeks could be controversial or political.
By Committee on Judicial Ethics | November 21, 2023
Where the inquiring judge's current law clerk was previously the longtime law clerk to another judge, who is now "of counsel" to a law firm but will work exclusively with one attorney and never appear in court: (1) The judge need not disqualify or disclose when the law firm colleagues of the ex-judge appear. (2) Whether the judge must insulate the law clerk from cases involving other attorneys from that firm is fact-specific, and depends on the nature of the relationship between the law clerk and the attorney who appears.
By Committee on Judicial Ethics | November 19, 2023
A judge need not disqualify merely because an attorney in the case shares office space with the judge's attorney sibling, where the attorneys maintain separate and independent law practices and do not share support staff or letterhead or otherwise hold themselves out as associated in the practice of law.
By Committee on Judicial Ethics | November 16, 2023
A part-time judge may maintain employment in a child advocacy center within a law enforcement office in a county different from where the judge presides and may serve as treasurer of a volunteer fire department. We decline to comment on questions that are unduly speculative and hypothetical.
By Committee on Judicial Ethics | November 15, 2023
A city court judge need not object to a city police department's automated phone system which offers callers an opportunity to be transferred directly to the court clerk's general office line if they are calling about a court appearance, fine, disposition or court paperwork.
By Committee on Judicial Ethics | November 14, 2023
A judge, as the editor of a legal manual used by judges, court personnel, defense attorneys, prosecutors, law enforcement and others, may dedicate the manual to "hard-working individuals that uphold our Criminal Justice System."
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