Opinion 16-101

June 16, 2016


Digest:         The effective date of Opinion 15-197(B) is September 1, 2016.


Rules:          Opinion 15-197(B); 10-111; 09-173.


         In Opinion 15-197(B), the Committee amended Opinion 09-173 by striking the final paragraph and the last twelve words of the digest, to reflect that a justice court should not routinely notify witnesses for the prosecution, even if the court is willing to do the same for defendants and defense attorneys on request.1 The Committee noted (15-197[B] [citation omitted]):


If the District Attorney’s office needs more funds to track cases and notify witnesses in local justice courts, that problem must be addressed through the regular legislative or political process. Absent a legal requirement to do so, the town and village courts must not compensate for any apparent deficiencies in the budgeting process by routinely taking on the non-judicial functions of notifying the District Attorney's witnesses.

         In the present inquiry, a town or village justice asks about the effective date of Opinion 15-197(B).

         On consideration of all relevant facts and circumstances, the Committee believes Opinion 15-197(B) should go into effect on September 1, 2016. Accordingly, starting on September 1, 2016, a town or village justice court must not assist the District Attorney’s office by notifying the District Attorney’s witnesses, complainants and officers of their upcoming court appearances at hearings and trials.


         1 Of course, where the complainant police officer or trooper serves as the prosecution’s sole representative, the court may “provide the trial schedule notice to that trooper/officer in his/her prosecutorial capacity” (Opinion 10-111).