General magistrates need not recuse themselves when former colleagues appear before them
General magistrates are not required to automatically disqualify themselves from cases in which a recently resigned magistrate appears as counsel of record, according to the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.
Acting March 1 in Opinion 2023-02, the advice comes following an inquiry from a judicial officer who wanted to know, if a former magistrate joins a private law firm that regularly appears before the court, whether that would require the remaining magistrates to automatically disqualify themselves.
The inquirer cited former JEAC opinions 04-06 and 10-36 as precedent, which outlined recusal or disclosure based on a judicial officer’s prior legal employment. In those instances, the JEAC opined that “[t]wo years is a reasonable period of time for a judge to disqualify himself or herself from hearing any cases handled by the judge’s former law firm, so long as at the end of two years there are no financial ties between the judge and former law firm.”