May 8, 1998
Note: While the outcome of this opinion remains unchanged, please see Opinion 17-110 for a discussion of a judge’s ability to initiate, suggest, or facilitate a plea agreement in criminal cases.
The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics has considered your inquiry (98-58) concerning the propriety of using printed forms which would initiate and record negotiated pleas, and the propriety of making these forms available at the court.
Enclosed for your information is Opinion 96-132 in which this Committee concluded that courts should not be the agents for furnishing printed forms to defendants in Vehicle and Traffic Law cases, in which a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a reduced charge.
Please note, however, that forms advising defendants of the option to negotiate a plea or initiating or inviting plea negotiations may be distributed to the defendants by representatives of the District Attorney’s Office in court or by mail.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow
Dutchess County Court Judge
Thomas P. Flaherty
Justice of the Supreme Court