senate Bill S2529

Establishes the state commission for the integrity of the criminal justice system and provides for its powers and duties

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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actions

  • 25 / Jan / 2011
    • REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • 04 / Jan / 2012
    • REFERRED TO JUDICIARY

Summary

Establishes the state commission for the integrity of the criminal justice system and provides for its powers and duties; such commission shall, upon its own initiative, investigate, hold hearings, and make findings of fact and recommendations on any case in which it is reasonably alleged that a person was wrongfully convicted of an offense in this state.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A5344
Versions:
S2529
Legislative Cycle:
2011-2012
Current Committee:
Senate Judiciary
Law Section:
Judiciary Law
Laws Affected:
Ren Art 23 §§860 & 861 to be Art 24 §§1000 & 1001, add Art 23 §§900 - 904, Judy L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Cycles:
2009-2010: S1589, A3795
2007-2008: A4317

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S2529

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the judiciary law, in relation to creating the state commission
for the integrity of the criminal justice system, as an independent
agency, and providing for such commission's powers and duties

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:

The bill establishes a commission with members appointed by leaders in
the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The
commission will investigate instances of wrongful convictions in felony
cases in New York and issue reports and recommendations concerning its
findings.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:

The bill provides for a ten member commission. Members of the commission
shall serve without salary. Four of the five commission members shall be
appointed by the Governor; the fifth member shall be the commissioner of
the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. The sixth
member of the commission shall be appointed by the Attorney General of
the State of New York. The Chief Judge of New York's highest court, the
Court of Appeals, shall appoint the seventh and eighth members. Finally,
the Temporary President of the State Senate and Speaker of the State
Assembly shall each appoint one of the commission's ten members.

The commission's mission is to examine instances of wrongful felony
convictions in this state, but only in cases where the person has been
determined to be innocent of the crime and exonerated. No person may
compel a commission investigation as a part of an appeal or court
challenge, nor will the commission serve as a court or tribunal that may
overturn a conviction. Moreover, the commission will not be required to
evaluate a specific number or particular types of cases. The commission
may subpoena certain records and conduct hearings, although evidentiary
privileges available under law may be invoked in any such proceeding. No
judge may be compelled to offer testimony or evidence concerning the
mental processes involved in arriving at any decision in the case.

The commission from time to time will issue reports concerning its
investigations, including findings of fact and any relevant
recommendations. The bill specifically provides that no report of the
commission or portion of a report may be offered in evidence in any
court proceeding relating to a matter which is the subject of such a
report.

JUSTIFICATION:

New York's criminal justice system works effectively and generally
exceptionally well. Officials efficiently handle hundreds of thousands
of felony cases each year. In more than ninety percent of these cases,
the offender pleads guilty and admits to the crime.

Recently, however, there have been well publicized examples of persons
wrongly convicted of serious criminal charges. For example, in Chicago,
Illinois, graduate students in the Northwestern University Department of


Journalism recently documented information that was presented to the
courts and resulted in several persons being released from death row
based on evidence of innocence. Recent advances in DNA evidence have
resulted in the exoneration of dozen of persons throughout the nation
who were wrongly convicted. New York's Court of Claims has in recent
years awarded substantial monetary judgments to persons whose
convictions were overturned and who were determined by the Court of
Claims to be innocent of the crimes.

As noted, the commission proposed by this bill will not be empowered to
affirm or reverse convictions or order any other action by state or
local officials or the courts. No investigation would be authorized in
cases where judicial avenues of review remain. But in those few
instances where judicial review of the conviction has been completed and
the person has been determined to be been wrongfully convicted, the
commission will be authorized to study the case. As the commission
develops increased expertise, it may make recommendations for changes in
the criminal justice system, which may help reduce the possibility of
erroneous convictions in the future.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

The bill costs relatively little. Members of the commission serve
without salary, although members will be entitled to receive actual and
necessary expenses incurred in carrying out their duties. Further, the
commission is authorized to receive, without cost, assistance,
information, data and records from existing departments, divisions,
commissions and agencies of the state and from the courts.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
The bill takes effect ninety day after it is signed into law,
with provisions.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  2529

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                            January 25, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced  by Sen. GIANARIS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary

AN ACT to amend the judiciary law, in relation  to  creating  the  state
  commission  for  the  integrity  of the criminal justice system, as an
  independent agency, and providing for  such  commission's  powers  and
  duties

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Article 23 and sections 860 and 861 of the  judiciary  law,
as renumbered by chapter 840 of the laws of 1983, are renumbered article
24  and  sections 1000 and 1001 and a new article 23 is added to read as
follows:
                                ARTICLE 23
                   STATE COMMISSION FOR THE INTEGRITY
                     OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
SECTION 900. DEFINITION.
        901. STATE COMMISSION FOR THE INTEGRITY OF THE CRIMINAL  JUSTICE
               SYSTEM.
        902. PURPOSE AND CONDUCT OF THE COMMISSION.
        903. POWERS AND DUTIES.
        904. USE OF REPORTS.
  S  900.  DEFINITION.  AS USED IN THIS ARTICLE, "COMMISSION" SHALL MEAN
THE STATE COMMISSION FOR THE INTEGRITY OF THE  CRIMINAL  JUSTICE  SYSTEM
ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO SECTION NINE HUNDRED ONE OF THIS ARTICLE.
  S  901.  STATE  COMMISSION  FOR  THE INTEGRITY OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE
SYSTEM. 1. THE STATE  COMMISSION  FOR  THE  INTEGRITY  OF  THE  CRIMINAL
JUSTICE  SYSTEM  IS  HEREBY  ESTABLISHED AS AN INDEPENDENT AGENCY OF THE
STATE. THE COMMISSION SHALL CONSIST OF TEN MEMBERS AS FOLLOWS:
  (A) THE COMMISSIONER OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE SERVICES;
  (B) FOUR MEMBERS APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR, OF WHOM:
  (I) ONE SHALL BE A REPRESENTATIVE OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY,

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD05755-01-1

S. 2529                             2

  (II) ONE SHALL BE A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PUBLIC CRIMINAL DEFENSE  BAR
OR  PRIVATE  CRIMINAL DEFENSE BAR WHO SHALL BE APPOINTED UPON THE RECOM-
MENDATION OF AN ORGANIZATION WITH MORE THAN  SEVEN  HUNDRED  FIFTY  DUES
PAYING MEMBERS REPRESENTING SUCH PUBLIC OR PRIVATE DEFENSE SERVICES,
  (III)  ONE  SHALL  BE  A  REPRESENTATIVE OF VICTIMS RIGHTS ADVOCACY OR
SERVICES ORGANIZATIONS, AND
  (IV) ONE SHALL BE A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE FORENSIC SCIENCE FIELD;
  (C) A MEMBER APPOINTED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL WHO SHALL BE  A  REPRE-
SENTATIVE OF PROSECUTION SERVICES;
  (D)  TWO MEMBERS APPOINTED BY THE CHIEF JUDGE OF THE COURT OF APPEALS,
OF WHOM:
  (I) ONE SHALL BE A RETIRED JUDGE OR JUSTICE OF A NEW YORK STATE  COURT
OF RECORD, AND
  (II)  ONE SHALL BE A PROFESSOR OF LAW OR A RETIRED FULL TIME PROFESSOR
OF LAW WHO HAS TAUGHT LAW  SCHOOL  COURSES  IN  CRIMINAL  LAW,  CRIMINAL
PROCEDURE,  CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, OR EVIDENCE AT AN ACCREDITED POST-GRADU-
ATE COLLEGE IN NEW YORK STATE;
  (E) ONE MEMBER APPOINTED BY THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, WHO
SHALL BE A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC-AT-LARGE; AND
  (F) ONE MEMBER APPOINTED BY THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY, WHO SHALL  BE
A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC-AT-LARGE.
  2. THE COMMISSIONER OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE SERVICES SHALL SERVE AN INDEF-
INITE  TERM. THE MEMBERS APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR SHALL SERVE A TERM OF
FOUR YEARS. THE RETIRED JUDGE OR JUSTICE APPOINTED BY  THE  CHIEF  JUDGE
SHALL  SERVE  A  TERM  OF  THREE  YEARS. THE PROFESSOR OF LAW OR RETIRED
PROFESSOR OF LAW APPOINTED BY THE CHIEF JUDGE SHALL SERVE A TERM OF  TWO
YEARS.  THE  MEMBERS  APPOINTED  BY  THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, THE TEMPORARY
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY SHALL EACH SERVE
A TERM OF TWO YEARS.  EACH OF THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION, EXCEPT  THE
COMMISSIONER  OF  CRIMINAL  JUSTICE SERVICES, APPOINTED THEREAFTER SHALL
SERVE A TERM OF FIVE YEARS.  EVERY VACANCY OCCURRING PRIOR TO THE  EXPI-
RATION OF A MEMBER'S TERM SHALL BE FILLED FOR THE REMAINDER OF SUCH TERM
IN  THE  MANNER PROVIDED FOR THE ORIGINAL APPOINTMENT TO SUCH TERM. UPON
THE EXPIRATION OF THE TERM OF A MEMBER OF THE  COMMISSION,  SUCH  MEMBER
SHALL CONTINUE TO SERVE UNTIL HIS OR HER SUCCESSOR IS APPOINTED.
  3.  THE  COMMISSION  SHALL ELECT A CHAIR FROM AMONGST ITS MEMBERS BY A
MAJORITY VOTE OF THE MEMBERS THEREOF.
  4. NO MEMBER OF THE COMMISSION SHALL BE DISQUALIFIED FROM HOLDING  ANY
PUBLIC OFFICE OR EMPLOYMENT, NOR SHALL HE OR SHE FORFEIT ANY SUCH OFFICE
OR  EMPLOYMENT,  BY  REASON  OF  HIS OR HER APPOINTMENT PURSUANT TO THIS
SECTION, AND THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION SHALL BE REQUIRED TO TAKE AND
FILE OATHS OF OFFICE BEFORE SERVING ON THE COMMISSION.
  5. THE COMMISSION SHALL MEET AT LEAST FOUR TIMES EACH YEAR  AT  PREDE-
TERMINED  TIMES  AND  LOCATIONS  ANNOUNCED IN ADVANCE, AND AT SUCH OTHER
TIMES AS THE CHAIR OF THE COMMISSION  OR  FOUR  OR  MORE  MEMBERS  SHALL
DETERMINE TO BE NECESSARY.
  6.  FOR  ANY  ACTION  AUTHORIZED  BY THIS ARTICLE, FIVE MEMBERS OF THE
COMMISSION SHALL CONSTITUTE A QUORUM AND, EXCEPT AS  OTHERWISE  PROVIDED
IN  SUBDIVISIONS  THREE AND FIVE OF THIS SECTION, THE CONCURRENCE OF SIX
MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION SHALL BE NECESSARY.
  7. THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION SHALL SERVE WITHOUT SALARY  OR  OTHER
COMPENSATION,  BUT  SHALL  BE  ENTITLED  TO RECEIVE ACTUAL AND NECESSARY
EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE DISCHARGE OF  THEIR  DUTIES  PURSUANT  TO  THIS
ARTICLE.
  S  902.  PURPOSE  AND CONDUCT OF THE COMMISSION.  THE COMMISSION SHALL
REVIEW ANY CRIMINAL OR JUVENILE CASE INVOLVING A WRONGFUL CONVICTION AND

S. 2529                             3

RECOMMEND REFORMS  TO  LESSEN  THE  LIKELIHOOD  OF  A  SIMILAR  WRONGFUL
CONVICTION OCCURRING IN THE FUTURE.
  WHENEVER  A  PERSON WHO HAS BEEN CONVICTED OF A CRIME OR ADJUDICATED A
YOUTHFUL OFFENDER IS SUBSEQUENTLY DETERMINED  TO  BE  INNOCENT  OF  SUCH
CRIME  OR OFFENSE AND EXONERATED, THE COMMISSION SHALL CONDUCT AN INVES-
TIGATION, HOLD HEARINGS ON AND  MAKE  FINDINGS  OF  FACT  REGARDING  THE
WRONGFUL  CONVICTION  IN  ORDER  TO DETERMINE THE CAUSE OR CAUSES OF THE
WRONGFUL CONVICTION.
  UPON THE COMPLETION OF SUCH  PROCESS,  THE  COMMISSION,  WITHIN  SIXTY
DAYS,  SHALL  ISSUE A PRELIMINARY WRITTEN REPORT OF ITS FINDINGS OF FACT
AND CONCLUSIONS, AND ANY RECOMMENDATIONS TO PREVENT WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS
FROM OCCURRING UNDER SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE FUTURE.    WITHIN  ONE
HUNDRED  TWENTY  DAYS AFTER ISSUING SUCH PRELIMINARY REPORT, THE COMMIS-
SION SHALL ISSUE ITS REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING  THE  MATTER.
SUCH  REPORT  AND RECOMMENDATIONS SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC,
AND SHALL BE DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, CHIEF JUDGE OF
THE COURT OF APPEALS, TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, SPEAKER OF  THE
ASSEMBLY,  AND  TO  ANY  GOVERNMENTAL UNIT OR AGENCY THAT THE COMMISSION
FINDS MAY HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN THE INVESTIGATION OR ADJUDICATION OF THE
WRONGFUL CONVICTION. THE COMMISSION SHALL ALSO MAKE AVAILABLE AN  ANNUAL
REPORT  DETAILING, AT A MINIMUM, THE NUMBER OF CASES ACCEPTED FOR FORMAL
AND INFORMAL INVESTIGATION, THE NUMBER OF COMPLETED  INVESTIGATIONS  AND
THE STATUS OF ON-GOING OR PENDING INVESTIGATIONS.
  S  903.  POWERS  AND  DUTIES. THE COMMISSION SHALL HAVE THE POWERS AND
DUTIES TO:
  1. ESTABLISH ITS OWN REASONABLE RULES AND  PROCEDURES  CONCERNING  THE
CONDUCT  OF  ITS  MEETINGS AND OTHER AFFAIRS RELATED TO IMPLEMENTING THE
PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE;
  2. EMPLOY AND REMOVE SUCH OFFICERS, INVESTIGATORS AND EMPLOYEES AS  IT
MAY DEEM NECESSARY FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF ITS POWERS AND DUTIES PURSUANT
TO  THIS  ARTICLE,  AND  FIX  THEIR COMPENSATION WITHIN THE AMOUNTS MADE
AVAILABLE THEREFOR;
  3. CONDUCT INVESTIGATIONS AND HEARINGS, ADMINISTER OATHS  OR  AFFIRMA-
TIONS,  SUBPOENA  WITNESSES, COMPEL THEIR ATTENDANCE, EXAMINE THEM UNDER
OATH OR AFFIRMATION, REQUIRE PRODUCTION OF ANY BOOKS, RECORDS, DOCUMENTS
OR OTHER EVIDENCE THAT IT MAY DEEM RELEVANT OR MATERIAL TO  AN  INVESTI-
GATION,  AND MAY DESIGNATE ANY OF ITS MEMBERS, OFFICERS OR INVESTIGATORS
TO EXERCISE ANY SUCH POWERS; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, NOTHING IN THIS SUBDIVI-
SION SHALL AUTHORIZE THE ISSUANCE OF A SUBPOENA OR COMPELLED QUESTIONING
OF THE TRIAL COURT JUDGE OR ANY APPELLATE  COURT  JUDGE  CONCERNING  THE
JUDGE'S MENTAL PROCESSES IN ARRIVING AT ANY DECISION IN A CASE;
  4.  REQUEST  AND  RECEIVE FROM ANY COURT, DEPARTMENT, DIVISION, BOARD,
BUREAU, COMMISSION OR OTHER AGENCY OF THE STATE OR A POLITICAL  SUBDIVI-
SION  THEREOF  OR  ANY  PUBLIC  AUTHORITY  SUCH ASSISTANCE, INFORMATION,
RECORDS AND DATA AS WILL ENABLE IT TO PROPERLY CARRY OUT ITS POWERS  AND
DUTIES;
  5.  ISSUE  PRELIMINARY REPORTS ON ANY INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED PURSUANT
TO THIS ARTICLE, WHICH PRELIMINARY REPORTS  SHALL  INCLUDE  FINDINGS  OF
FACT  AND RECOMMENDATIONS, AND INVITE ANY PARTY DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN THE
WRONGFUL CONVICTION, WHICH IS THE SUBJECT OF THE  REPORT,  TO  SUBMIT  A
REPLY  WITHIN  SIXTY  DAYS  TO THE COMMISSION CONCERNING THE FINDINGS OF
FACT AND RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE REPORT. ANY SUCH  REPLY  SHALL  BE  MADE
AVAILABLE  BY  THE COMMISSION, TOGETHER WITH ANY RESPONSE BY THE COMMIS-
SION THERETO, TO THE PARTIES LISTED IN SECTION NINE HUNDRED TWO OF  THIS
ARTICLE  AS PART OF THE COMMISSION'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERN-
ING THE MATTER; AND

S. 2529                             4

  6. DO ALL OTHER THINGS NECESSARY  AND  CONVENIENT  TO  CARRY  OUT  THE
PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE.
  S 904. USE OF REPORTS. NO PRELIMINARY REPORT, REPORT OR PORTION THERE-
OF  ISSUED  PURSUANT  TO THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE ADMITTED INTO EVIDENCE OR
USED IN ANY CIVIL OR CRIMINAL CAUSE OF ACTION RELATING TO A MATTER WHICH
IS THE SUBJECT OF SUCH REPORT.
  S 2. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day  after  it  shall
have become a law, provided that the officials who are empowered by this
act  to appoint members of the state commission for the integrity of the
criminal justice  system  are  authorized  and  directed  to  make  such
appointments on or before such effective date pursuant to section 901 of
the judiciary law, as added by section one of this act.

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