Opinion 09-24

February 6, 2009


Dear Justice :

         This responds to your inquiry (09-24) in which you ask whether the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct require judges to assign counsel for unlawful possession of marijuana cases where the defendant cannot afford counsel of his or her own.

         In the Committee’s view, the question of whether a judge must assign counsel for an unlawful possession of marijuana case is a purely legal one, governed by applicable statutes and/or case law rather than the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. It is thus an issue solely for the courts to determine (cf. Jud. Law 212[2][l]).  

                                                 Very truly yours,

                                                 George D. Marlow

                                                 Justice of the Supreme Court

                                                 Committee Chair