October 19, 2010
This responds to your inquiry (10-111) seeking clarification of Opinion 09-173. Specifically, you ask whether it is ethically permissible for a court to send a trial schedule notice to a state trooper in his/her capacity as a prosecutor.
In Opinion 09-173, this Committee determined that it was impermissible for a court to notify a complainant police officer
of a trial date because there was a prosecutor involved whose responsibilities include notifying his/her witnesses. Implicit in this opinion is that any prosecutor is entitled to a court’s trial notice. The fact that the prosecutor in Opinion 09-173 was an assistant district attorney, rather than a prosecuting attorney appointed by a village or town, was not dispositive because 09-173 is not limited only to prosecutors who are assistant district attorneys.
Accordingly, it follows that in those cases where the prosecutor and police officer or trooper are one in the same, the court may provide the trial schedule notice to that trooper/officer in his/her prosecutorial capacity. Were this Committee to opine otherwise, there would, as a practical matter, be no one to notify the police officer (or trooper)/prosecutor.