Opinion 88-159

January 12, 1989


Topic:          Whether a Civil Court Judge may suggest that another judge impose a particular sentence on a criminal defendant.


Digest:         A judge should not, on his own initiative, volunteer information or suggestions to influence another judge in sentencing a defendant.


Rule:            22 NYCRR §§ 100.2 (a); 100.2 (c)


         A Civil Court inquires whether he may properly make suggestions to a Criminal Court Judge concerning the sentencing of a defendant who has appeared before the inquiring judge on a related civil matter. The Civil Court Judge wishes to have the Criminal Court Judge impose restitution as part of the criminal sentence.

         Section 100.2 (c) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides:


No judge shall lend the prestige of his or her office to advance the private interests of others nor shall any judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence him or her . . .

         A judge also is required to remain impartial so as to promote public confidence in the judiciary. Section 100.2 (a). Communication from one judge to another, requesting or appearing to request special consideration in sentencing a defendant, regardless of the motive, could indicate an appearance of impropriety ( see, Dixon v. State Commission on Judicial Conduct, 47 N. Y. 2d [1979].

         While the information the judge seeks to convey to the Criminal Court may be considered useful background information for sentencing purposes, the judge should not volunteer it, especially when the defendant is before him in a civil matter.