December 9, 2021
This responds to your inquiry (21-158) asking if a county magistrates’ association may comment on the District Attorney’s proposal to the county legislature to abolish local justice courts in favor of a district court system in the county.
In Opinion 19-120, we advised that a full-time judge and a judicial association may publicly support or oppose proposed legislature or constitutional changes affecting court structure, court operations or the terms or conditions of judicial services, and may do so by (a) writing and submitting letters, articles, or editorials to newspapers and other publications; (b) advocating in person or in writing to the public officials, governmental bodies, and labor unions; (c) testifying at public hearings; and (d) speaking at public or private forums, other than partisan political gatherings or meetings of a political party or committee. (2) A judge and judicial association should use discretion when expressing a position on social media.
Therefore, we conclude that it is ethically permissible for a magistrates’ association to comment on the district attorney’s proposal to the legislature to abolish local justice courts in favor of a district court system in the county.
Enclosed for your convenience are Opinions 20-147; 19-120; 17-142; 97-02 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
Margaret T. Walsh
Supreme Court Justice
Acting Supreme Court Justice