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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2010-28 (September 8, 2010)
Disclosure/Disqualification; Canons 2 & 3;
New Code of Judicial Conduct (effective 1-1-11): Canons 1 & 2; Rules 1.2 & 2.11

Issue: A Judicial Official presided over a trial to the bench and rendered a judgment. The “losing” party retained a new attorney, and the new attorney has filed a motion to reconsider, which is currently pending. The new attorney is a member of a small law firm, and the Judicial Official has a close personal relationship with a named partner in this small law firm and the partner visited the Judicial Official in his home within the past year. To the best of the Judicial Official’s knowledge, the close friend is basically retired but still goes into the law office a little each week. It is not known to what extent, if any, that the close friend of the Judicial Official benefits from any new business of the law firm that is handled by other attorneys at the firm. Is the Judicial Official disqualified from presiding over the motion to reconsider?

Response: Based upon the facts presented, including that (1) the Judicial Official does not believe that he or she has a personal bias or prejudice in favor or opposed to counsel, (2) the Judicial Official believes that he or she can be fair and impartial, (3) the friend was last at the Judicial Official’s home within the past year, and (4) the Judicial Official has stated that he or she would have recused him or herself from any case involving the friend’s law firm when the friend was actively practicing, the Committee unanimously determined as follows: consistent with Canons 2 and 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, the Judicial Official does not have a duty to automatically disqualify himself or herself; however, the Judicial Official has a duty to disclose the relationship with counsel to the parties and their counsel. Thereafter, if a motion to disqualify is filed, the Judicial Official must exercise his or her discretion in deciding the motion based upon the information provided in the motion and the accompanying affidavit, as provided for in Connecticut Practice Book § 1-23, as well as the particular circumstances of the case. The same result would be reached under the new Code, effective January 1, 2011.

Committee on Judicial Ethics

 


 

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