September 22, 2016
This responds to your inquiry (16-116) asking if, as a full time judge presiding over criminal arraignments, you may appear at public meetings of the county legislature and other governmental boards or agencies to advocate for: 1) “an increase in staffing for both the District Attorney and Public Defender” as you believe this is necessary for them to “meet their Constitutional duty to appear at criminal arraignments and perform their other duties” and 2) “a centralized district court or arraignment court to speed the process and assure that the People and the defendant are represented.”
The Committee has consistently advised judges that it is ethically permissible to publicly comment to legislative bodies or municipal boards about proposals that directly affect the law, the legal system or the administration of justice (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[C]).
Enclosed, for your convenience are Opinions 16-78; 14-164; 99-158; and 90-181 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Family Court Judge