Opinion 23-34

Short-Form Opinion

March 23, 2023

Question:    May a town justice contact the District Attorney and the town to point out their concerns that the town’s code enforcement proceedings do not comply with the law, when no code enforcement cases are before the judge?  If the same deficiencies appear the next time a code enforcement action comes before the judge, may the judge dismiss the action without a motion from the defendant?

Discussion:  We have previously advised that a judge should not teach police officers who act as prosecutors in traffic cases how to prosecute their cases successfully (Opinion 95-121).  Similarly, we said that a judge may not provide guidance to the local police department regarding the sufficiency of their accusatory instruments and other forms they routinely draft and present to the court (Opinion 07-29).  We find this situation is analogous, and you may not highlight to the District Attorney and the town the corrections which should be made to papers presented to the court to comply with the law.  We further determine that your second question is a legal question that the Committee is not authorized to answer (see Opinion 21-105).

Enclosed:    Opinions 21-105; 07-29; 95-121.