Here is a document I recently received in one of the criminal cases I handle from the Greene Village Court, Chenango County, New York (the presiding "acting" judge is Judge Alta R. Martin).
Those of you who have experience with the New York local justice court will immediately see several problems.
First, in all justice courts clerks use standard software to generate scheduling orders of the court.
That technology, obviously, somehow did not reach the Greene Village Court, so I wonder whether the court keeps records of proceedings properly.
Usually, pro se parties or counsel do not receive "Next Appearance Date" sheets of paper bearing no identifying information to the case.
Instead, what they receive is scheduling ORDERS which must bear the following specific information:
- Name of the case.
- Assigned number of the case.
- That it is a scheduling order.
- The scheduling order must be signed or name of the judge who issued the order shown.
- The order must state what the appearance is for - scheduling conference, hearing etc.
- The order must be addressed, by name and address, to the pro se party and the prosecutor, or to the defense attorney and the prosecutor.
- The order must list charges for which the defendant must appear.
None of what HAS to be in such a scheduling notice/order IS in the Greene Village Court "Next Appearance Date" paper.
Yet, what absolutely CANNOT be there, is included.
At the very first appearance in the criminal case, the criminal court MUST advise the criminal defendant of his or her right to remain silent throughout the criminal proceedings.
This right is guaranteed by the New York State Constitution and by the U.S. Constitution.
Instead of advising the criminal defendant that he has a right to remain silent, the Greene Village Court advises the criminal defendant, whether represented or unrepresented, that the defendant "need[s] to contact the ADA before [his/her] next appearance", meaning that the court EXPECTS and practically DIRECTS the criminal defendant to waive his or her right to remain silent and talk to the ADA before every appearance in the case.
I have never in my entire career as a criminal defense attorney and my prior career as a paralegal for a criminal defense trial lawyer seen anything like that.
Once again, by law criminal defendants DO NOT "need" to talk to the prosecutor before any appearances unless they decide to waive their right to remain silent on advice of counsel or on their own accord.
By law, criminal courts MAY NOT direct criminal defendants to talk to the ADA, because, first, it is giving criminal defendants (represented and unrepresented) legal advice, which the court is not allowed to do, and, second, such an advice is directly contrary to criminal defendants' constitutional right to remain silent and to the court's duty to advise criminal defendants' of such a right and to see that that right is observed in that court.
And that brings me to the next issue - are criminal defendants in justice courts provided, as a point of due process and equal protection of laws guaranteed by the State and Federal Constitution, with competent judges?
Read my next blog about it.