Opinion 21-135

December 6, 2021

Dear :


         This responds to your inquiry (21-135) asking if it is ethically permissible for you to conduct off-hour arraignments at a county jail, pursuant to a proposed county-wide change in arraignment procedures.  Specifically, you have asked if doing so would undermine the appearance of judicial independence, contrary to Section 100.1, and/or violate the Judiciary Law.


We have previously advised that it is ethically permissible for a judge to conduct arraignments off-hours at a publicly accessible area of the jail where the defendants are already incarcerated and the arrangement will facilitate compliance with constitutional mandates (Opinion 17-104).  We have also advised that a judge may arraign prison inmates in a courtroom open to the public within a maximum security prison, provided there are valid security reasons for doing so and that conducting arraignments at the prison does not violate the law (Opinion 98-150).


Accordingly, we see no ethical impropriety in conducting off-hours arraignments in a publicly accessible area of the county jail, assuming the location comports with legal requirements. 


         Enclosed for your convenience are Opinions 17-104; 98-150 which address this issue.


                                       Very truly yours,



                                       Margaret T. Walsh

                                       Supreme Court Justice

                                       Committee Co-Chair


                                       Lillian Wan

                                       Acting Supreme Court Justice

                                       Committee Co-Chair