April 29, 1993
Digest: A town justice may accept, on behalf of the town court, a recording system in lieu of a court stenographer from the district attorney.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.5(c)(3).
A town justice inquires whether it would be proper to accept from the district attorney a recording system for use in the courtroom. The inquiring justice requires the presence of a court stenographer while conducting preliminary hearings in the courtroom. To accommodate this justice, the district attorney’s office bears the cost of the stenographer for each hearing. In order to remain within its annual budget, the district attorney’s office has proposed, as an alternative to a court stenographer, the purchasing of a recording system for use by the court. The inquiring justice regards this recording system as a gift.
Section 100.5(c)(3) of the Rules of Chief Administrator sets forth the limits within which a judge (or a member of his or her family) may personally accept gifts. However, it appears from the letter of inquiry, that the writer acknowledges the recording system to be a gift to the court and not to the justice personally.
In view of this understanding, namely, that the gift is made to the town and not to the justice personally, this Committee sees no ethical objection.