September 5, 1996
Digest: A town justice should not hold arraignments in his/her home or business office.
Rules: 22 NYCRR; 100.3(A), 214.2(a)
A town justice inquires if it is permissible to arraign a defendant, at the request of the prosecution, at the judge’s home or business office if both are within the jurisdiction of the court.
At the outset, the Committee notes that judicial proceedings are to be held in a place that is public and where every citizen may attend. Judiciary Law, §4. Further, section 214.2(a) of the Uniform Civil Rules for the Justice Courts provides that court sessions of the justice courts are to be held in a facility provided by the municipality. (22 NYCRR 214.2[a]).
Thus, while holding court in a judge’s home or private business office may be more convenient for the judge or the parties, to do so would violate the intent of the rule and the statute, which afford the defendant the right to public proceedings, and to the public, a right to attend and observe legal proceedings. A judge must give preference to judicial duties over all other activities and those duties include adherence to the legal requirements establishing the place for the conduct of court business. 22 NYCRR 100.3(A).
No claim is made that the municipality has not provided a facility for the conduct of the court. Therefore, the judge should hold all proceedings, including arraignments, in such facility.