December 18, 2014
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
This responds to your inquiry (14-164) asking if you may appear and comment at a public legislative budget hearing regarding proposed cutbacks at the Sheriff’s Department in your county and the negative impact that would cause to the County Diversion/Drug Court. You state that a high-level elected local official has called for Patrol Department’s elimination.
You have indicated your belief that the Patrol Department is integral to the success of the Diversion/Drug Court program as the patrol officers help ensure the sobriety of court participants during non-business hours by providing personnel who conduct early morning and late evening drug tests for participants; visit participants’ homes late in the evening; and, conduct testing at the Sheriff’s department before regular business hours.
The Committee has advised that a judge may write to legislators expressing disapproval of reduced funding for county mental health services in light of the anticipated adverse impact on court operations (see Opinion 99-158 [Vol. XVIII]), and may publicly express his/her opinion about a proposal to change the position of district attorney from part-time to full-time (see Opinion 90-181 [Vol. VI]), as such issues directly affect the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.
Likewise, you may speak during a public legislative budget hearing to express your views about the negative impact reducing the sheriff department’s budget will have on court operations.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 99-158 and 90-181.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)