October 21, 1999
Judges may write to legislators expressing disapproval of the reduction
in funding for county mental health services resulting in the dismissal
of mental health employees, in light of the adverse impact on the functioning
of the courts.
22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(1);
Opinion 96-41 (Vol. XIV).
A county magistrates association asks whether it or its members may send letters to the legislators -- state and local -- expressing disapproval of the reduction in funding of the county's mental health services which would require the dismissal of mental health employees. The concern is that such a reduction in staff will adversely affect the functioning of the courts in dealing with such matters as the conduct of mental examinations, sentencing of defendants, follow-up and supervision.
In the opinion of the Committee, there is nothing ethically improper about writing letters to legislators expressing concern about the reduction in mental health staff in light of the perceived negative impact on the work of the courts. The matter in issue involves the legal system and the administration of justice and thus is a proper subject for an expression of views by members of the judiciary. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(1); Opinion 96-41 (Vol. XIV).