Sounds like a dumb question, doesn't it?
Yet, it's the trick question # 1, and the current "correct" answer is - "yes, of course". They should and they do, through their collective noses.
New York State Attorney General, as I wrote earlier in this blog, does represent public officials sued for violation of their constitutional oath of office, represents them against taxpayers, and claims he is doing it under New York Public Officers Law 17.
The way NYS AG and the court which allow such representation read the statute presupposes that constitutional violations by public officials are within their official duties. It cannot be, because it is also a violation of their oath of office, but NYS AG's legal fiction so far prevailed.
Thus, where 80% to 86% of New Yorkers cannot afford legal representation in court, they are still mandated to pay for legal representation of the unworthy public servants that they saddled themselves with which public servants violated their oath of service.
Does it make any sense where the poor cannot pay for their own legal services, but have to pay for the legal services of the wealthy? That's the trick question # 2.
Yet, I have yet another, now, third trick question.
What if a public official is sued in his official capacity and in his individual capacity or in his capacity as a private individual?
Well, even then NYS AG's office invents ways to represent individuals who are, let's say, well-connected. And the answer to this trick question # 3 is below.
Look at Ellen Coccoma and Michael Coccoma.
When my husband sued them, in a pro se federal action, he sued Ellen Coccoma as (1) former member of the attorney disciplinary committee and (2) as a private attorney who obtained an illegal order of deposition in a civil action.
As a disciplinary attorney under NYS AG theory that a public official can be represented at taxpayers' expense, such representation has the questionable legitimacy of being around for a long time, whether such use is constitutional or not.
Yet, no theory, not even Public Officers Law 17, supports representation by NYS AG, for free, of the wife of the Chief Administrative Judge of Upstate New York sued as a private attorney who represented paying clients in a private action.
But, apparently, Ellen Coccoma does not want to pay for legal representation, and her insurance carrier refused to cover her legal fees.
And - Ellen Coccoma and her husband Judge Michael V. Coccoma - considered it ethical and proper to accept from the NYS AG a gift of free legal representation at taxpayers' expense.
And, of course, the disciplinary committee found no fault with such an obvious misappropriation of publicly funded legal services.
By the way, NYS State Comptroler DiNapoli has been notified, but is in no hurry to take action on to make Ellen Coccoma disgorge to the state of New York the cost of her legal representation as a private party by the New York State Attorney General...
Do we have a rule of law and equality under the law in New York? That's the trick question No. 4. I don't recommend you to ask your judge about it when he denies you assigned counsel because you are "not eligible". Remember, attorney Ellen Coccoma, wife of a judge, with a combined family income of at least $200,000.00 a year, is eligible for free legal representation by an army of lawyers in New York State Attorney's Office at your expense...
But who is she and who are you...