senate Bill S2645

Enacts the constituent casework protection act

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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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  • 27 / Jan / 2011
    • REFERRED TO INVESTIGATIONS AND GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS
  • 04 / Jan / 2012
    • REFERRED TO INVESTIGATIONS AND GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

Summary

Relates to prohibiting the destruction of constituent files by public officials; provides penalties; defines terms.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A4768
Versions:
S2645
Legislative Cycle:
2011-2012
Current Committee:
Senate Investigations And Government Operations
Law Section:
Public Officers Law
Laws Affected:
Amd ยง80, Pub Off L

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S2645

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the public officers law, in relation to prohibiting the
destruction of constituent case
files by public officials

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
The intention of this bill is to
prevent the intentional destruction of active constituent case files
by public officials from a governmental office.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1 establishes this act as the "constituent casework protection
act."

Section 2 amends Section 80 of the public officers law, as amended by
chapter 556 of the laws of 1925, to establish a misdemeanor crime
punishable by a fine of $10,000 to $25,000 and/or a term of
imprisonment for up to one year, for any public officer found guilty
of intentionally destroying an active constituent case file. A
constituent file includes any correspondence, written or electronic,
between an elected official and a constituent or any correspondence
between an elected official and other party pertaining
to the constituent's request for assistance.

JUSTIFICATION:
Constituent service is one of the most important functions in any
elected officials' office. When a constituent requests assistance
from an elected official, in most cases, a constituent file is
created to document the initial inquiry or request and to maintain
all relevant correspondence between the officials' office and any
other agency, organization, etc., involved in the resolving the
request.

It is particularly troubling that, in the past, politics and personal
malice has led to the intentional destruction or removal of
unresolved constituent case files by an elected official upon leaving
office. These files should be kept intact and remain in the
government office so that the incoming official can continue to
assist the constituent with their unresolved case. When files are
removed or destroyed by a departing official, the newly elected
official has no way of knowing that a constituent is still in need of
assistance. Constituents should not suffer as a result of political
payback.

Under this new bill, any elected official involved with the
destruction of an unresolved constituent case file would be guilty of
a misdemeanor and subject to up to a year in prison and/or a fine of
between $10,000.00 and $25,000.00.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
New Bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:


None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect immediately.

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

                                  2645

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                            January 27, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced  by Sens. GRISANTI, AVELLA, GRIFFO, MARTINS -- read twice and
  ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee  on
  Investigations and Government Operations

AN  ACT to amend the public officers law, in relation to prohibiting the
  destruction of constituent case files by public officials

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

  Section  1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "constitu-
ent casework protection act".
  S 2. Section 80 of the public officers law, as amended by chapter  556
of the laws of 1925, is amended to read as follows:
  S 80. Delivery  of  books and papers, money and property.  1. A public
officer shall demand from his OR HER predecessor in office or any person
in whose possession they may be, a delivery to such officer of all books
and papers, money and property belonging or appertaining to such office.
If such demand is refused, such officer may make  complaint  thereof  to
any justice of the supreme court of the district, or to the county judge
of  the  county in which the person refusing resides. If such justice or
judge be satisfied that such books or papers,  money  and  property  are
withheld,  he  OR SHE shall grant an order directing the person refusing
to show cause before him OR HER at a time specified therein, why  he  OR
SHE  should  not deliver the same. At such time, or at any time to which
the matter may be adjourned, on proof of the due service of  the  order,
such  justice  or judge shall proceed to inquire into the circumstances.
If the person charged with withholding such books or papers,  money  and
property makes affidavit before such justice or judge that he OR SHE has
delivered to the officer all books and papers, money and property in his
OR  HER  custody  which,  within  his OR HER knowledge, or to his OR HER
belief belong or appertain thereto, such proceedings before such justice
or judge shall cease, and such  person  be  discharged.  If  the  person
complained  against  shall  not  make such oath, and it appears that any

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD07622-05-1

S. 2645                             2

such books or papers, money and property are withheld  by  him  OR  HER,
such  justice  or judge shall commit him OR HER to the county jail until
he OR SHE delivers such books and papers,  money  and  property,  or  is
otherwise  discharged according to law. On such commitment, such justice
or judge, if required by the complainant, shall also issue  his  OR  HER
warrant  directed  to any sheriff or constable, commanding him OR HER to
search, in the daytime, the places designated therein,  for  such  books
and papers, money and property, and to bring them before such justice or
judge.  If  any  such  books and papers, money and property, are brought
before him OR HER by virtue of such warrant, he OR SHE  shall  determine
whether  they appertain to such office, and if so shall cause them to be
delivered to the complainant.
  2. A.  NO PUBLIC OFFICER SHALL KNOWINGLY, WILLFULLY  OR  INTENTIONALLY
DESTROY  CONSTITUENT  CASE FILES, OR PERMIT ANOTHER PERSON TO DO SO. FOR
THE PURPOSES OF THIS SUBDIVISION, CONSTITUENT CASE FILES  SHALL  INCLUDE
ANY  CORRESPONDENCE,  WRITTEN OR ELECTRONIC, BETWEEN AN ELECTED OFFICIAL
AND A CONSTITUENT OR ANY CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN  SAID  ELECTED  OFFICIAL
AND ANY OTHER PARTY PERTAINING TO: A CONSTITUENT'S GRIEVANCE; OR A QUES-
TION  OF ELIGIBILITY FOR ANY BENEFIT; OR ANY ISSUE REGARDING A CONSTITU-
ENT REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE.
  B.  ANY PERSON WHO VIOLATES THE PROVISIONS OF THIS  SUBDIVISION  SHALL
BE  GUILTY  OF  A MISDEMEANOR AND SHALL BE SUBJECT TO A FINE OF AT LEAST
TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS BUT NOT MORE THAN TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS,  OR
TO  A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OF UP TO ONE YEAR, OR BOTH. THE PROVISIONS OF
THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL NOT APPLY TO: (A) ANY FILES WHICH  ARE  PROTECTED
BY  ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE, OR (B) ANY DESTRUCTION OF FILES WHICH THE
CONSTITUENT CONSENTS  TO  IN  WRITING,  OR  (C)  CORRESPONDENCE  FROM  A
CONSTITUENT  PRIMARILY ADVOCATING FOR OR AGAINST LEGISLATION, OR (D) ANY
FILES WHICH RELATE TO MATTERS WHICH HAVE BEEN RESOLVED.
  S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

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