Opinion 02-77

September 12, 2002



Digest:          A judge presiding in a Drug Court may consider certain ex parte communications as set forth in Administrative Order 152/02, but should not reward defendants with gifts from commercial enterprises.


Rule:            22 NYCRR 100.2(c); Administrative Order 152/02; Opinion 01-52.


         A City Court judge who presides in a Drug Court inquires whether defendants must be accompanied by their attorneys at the weekly progress reports sessions. The judge further asks as to the propriety of providing defendants who are reported to be making progress, with incentives such as movie passes or coupons from a local fast food restaurant.

         As to the communications made in the absence of defense counsel, we note that Administrative Order 152/02, of March 19, 2002, issued by the Chief Administrative Judge sets forth the procedure which permits consideration of such communications. See, Opinion 01-52.

         As to providing rewards, the Committee regards it as inappropriate. In effect, the judge would be appearing to be lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the commercial interests involved. Under section 100.2© of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, such conduct should be avoided.