August 1, 2014
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
This responds to your inquiry (14-79) whether you may adopt a policy requiring parties to an action to appear before you for allocution and explanation before entering into a stipulation - even one reached out-of-court - when one of the parties is unrepresented. You are concerned that plaintiffs’ counsels have been filing law suits and using them as leverage, then pressuring the defendants to enter into out-of-court settlements with terms that are onerous and not in the best interest of the unrepresented party.
Pursuant to Judiciary Law §212(2)(l) and Part 101 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator (22 NYCRR Part 101), the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics is charged with issuing advisory opinions concerning issues related to ethical conduct, proper execution of judicial duties, and possible conflicts between private interests and official duties (see 22 NYCRR 101.1). As your question involves a legal issue, the Committee cannot respond (see Judiciary Law §212[l]).
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)