May 2, 2018
This answers your inquiry (18-26) asking on behalf of yourself and the other justice court judges whether it is ethical to allow the town and justice court clerks in your county to send notice of animal abuse convictions to the Sheriff’s Department pursuant to a recently enacted county animal abuse registry law.1
The Committee has previously advised that “a judge who makes a good-faith legal determination based on the apparently controlling statutes and case law (if any) is necessarily acting ethically” (Opinion 16-55). Thus, judges may allow their court clerks to send these notices, if they conclude the animal abuse registry law so requires.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 16-159 and 16-55 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Div., First Dep’t (Ret.)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Family Court Judge
Acting Justice, Supreme Court
1 This inquiry is presented in your capacity as an officer of a local Magistrates Association.