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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2010-19 (June 23, 2010)
Disclosure/Disqualification; Canons 1, 2 & 3; C.G.S. § 51-39

Issue: While a member of the board of directors of a condominium association, a Judicial Official recommended an attorney to represent the association. The Judicial Official ceased to be a member of the condominium association at least fifteen years ago and no longer lives in or owns the condominium that was the basis for his membership in the condominium association. The attorney has continuously represented the condominium association. Does the Judicial Official have a present duty of recusal and/or disclosure when the attorney appears before the Judicial Official?

Response: Based upon the information provided, including that the Judicial Official originally recommended the attorney to the condominium association board, that the attorney has continuously represented the association with respect to its legal matters ( including foreclosures for unpaid common charges), that the Judicial Official has no personal or social relationship with the attorney, that the attorney has never personally represented the Judicial Official, and that the Judicial Official has in prior cases disclosed the above information (which has resulted in only two requests for recusal, both of which occurred in the past year), the four Committee members present unanimously determined that the Judicial Official does not have a duty in future cases to recuse himself or herself or to notify parties of the Judicial Official’s role as a former condominium owner, former director of the condominium association, or in recommending that the attorney be hired by the condominium association subject to the following conditions: (1) that the Judicial Official does not believe that he or she has any personal bias involving the attorney or the condominium association if the attorney is representing that entity, (2) that the representation is not with respect to a matter involving the condominium association that was pending when the Judicial Official was a member of its Board of Directors, and (3) that the representation does not involve a policy or practice of the condominium association that the Judicial Official helped to formulate. In rendering its decision, the Committee considered Canons 1, 2, and 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, C.G.S. § 51-39, as well as opinion in JE 2008-21 (holding that a Judicial Official who had served as a part-time corporation counsel did not have to recuse himself or herself from civil or criminal cases in which the former municipal employer is a party provided specified conditions are met and further noting that the Judicial Official needed to disclose for a reasonable period of time, which was not less than two years, the prior employment relationship). Finally, the Committee noted that even under Rule 2.11 of the Code of Judicial Conduct that will take effect on January 1, 2011, recusal and disclosure are not required on the facts of this inquiry provided that the conditions set forth above are complied with.

Committee on Judicial Ethics

 


 

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