Ethics Opinion 146

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #146 – 07/27/1970 (25-70)
Topic: Conflict of Interest for Part-time Judge
Digest:  A judge of a court having jurisdiction to try misdemeanors and felony hearings may not practice criminal law in a higher court
Code:  EC 9-2, 9-6 / DR 9-101(A) / Canons of Judicial Ethics No. 31

QUESTION

May an attorney, who is a judge of a court which meets once a week with jurisdiction to try misdemeanors and hold felony hearings, engage in the defense of clients in a higher criminal court in the same county?

OPINION

Such conduct would be improper.ABA 242 (1942) states in part as follows:”…acceptance of a judgeship with the duties of conducting misdemeanor trials, and examinations in felony cases to determine whether those accused should be bound over for trial in a higher court, ethically bars the judge from acting as attorney for the defendants upon such trial, whether they were examined by him or by some other judge. Such a practice would not only diminish public confidence in the administration of justice in both courts, but would produce serious conflict between the private interests of the judge as a lawyer, and of his clients, and his duties as a judge in adjudicating important phases of criminal processes in other cases. The public and private duties would be incompatible. The prestige of the judicial office would be diverted to private benefit, and the judicial office would be demeaned thereby.”Recent opinions concerning a part-time District Attorney and a City Councilman practicing law, further stress the importance of avoiding any possible appearance of conflicting interests or impropriety. N.Y. State 130 (1970), N.Y. State 110 (1969), N.Y. State 99 (1968), EC 9-2, EC 9-6, DR 9-101 (A), Canon 31 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics

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