senate Bill S4865A

Relates to providing witnesses with facility dogs

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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

  • 29 / Apr / 2013
    • REFERRED TO CODES
  • 15 / Nov / 2013
    • AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO CODES
  • 15 / Nov / 2013
    • PRINT NUMBER 4865A
  • 08 / Jan / 2014
    • REFERRED TO CODES
  • 10 / Mar / 2014
    • NOTICE OF COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION - REQUESTED
  • 29 / Apr / 2014
    • DEFEATED IN CODES

Summary

Relates to providing witnesses with facility dogs.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A7159A
Versions:
S4865
S4865A
Legislative Cycle:
2013-2014
Current Committee:
Senate Codes
Law Section:
Criminal Procedure Law
Laws Affected:
Add Art 67 ยงยง67.00 & 67.10, CP L

Votes

6
10
6
Aye
10
Nay
0
aye with reservations
0
absent
0
excused
0
abstained
show Codes committee vote details

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S4865A

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in
relation to providing witnesses with facility dogs

PURPOSE: To facilitate the truth finding process through fair and
accurate testimony by providing a judge with the discretion to allow
vulnerable witnesses the ability to testify in the presence of a
facility dog.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 entitles the bill "Rosie's Law."

Section 2 sets forth the legislative intent.

Section 3 adds a new article sixty-seven to the criminal procedure
law. Section 67.00 defines facility dog and "vulnerable witness" for
the purpose of this new Article. Section 67.10 sets forth the
procedure for use by a judge to allow at their discretion to permit a
vulnerable witness to have a facility dog present while testifying.

Section 4 provides that this act shall take effect immediately.

JUSTIFICATION: The purpose of a trial is to get to the truth of a
matter. However, participating in courtroom or other legal proceedings
(e.g., depositions, forensic interviews) is arguably one of the most
emotionally trying events that most people experience. The stress is
compounded for certain individuals. The presence of a well-trained dog
can significantly reduce the anxiety associated with these experiences
thereby improving the efficiency and quality of a person's
communications. The use of dogs in the courtroom has expanded rapidly
in the United States and is now spreading worldwide, as a mechanism
for calming and supporting individuals involved in courtroom
proceedings. The scientific evidence for the physical and mental
calming effects of appropriately bred and trained dogs is now
overwhelming, and includes both physical and psychological effects
across short and long time frames. For instance, there is strong
evidence of short-term physical effects: petting an animal produces
short-term decreases in blood pressure and/or heart rate In fact,
these effects may be seen even in individuals simply in the presence
of a dog Of less relevance to this discussion are the many studies
illustrating pronounced long-term positive effects on physical health
as well. There are also well-documented short-term (and long-term)
effects on psychological health, including positive effects on social
communication and ability to make social contacts, reduction in
feelings of loneliness and isolation, and improvements in depression
and self-esteem. The use of facility dogs can help bring about an
important change in how we meet the emotional needs of all involved in
the criminal justice system. Courthouse dogs have already been
successfully utilized in courtroom in Dutchess County, New York and in
the states of Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, and Washington. This
law is named for Rosie who was the first Assistance Dog allowed by a
New York State court to accompany a witness into the witness box
during testimony. During the testimony, Rosie lied motionless on the
floor of the witness stand, using only her snout to press into the
teen's lower leg to bring calm when needed. Rosie enabled the child


victim to testify in court against the man who had repeatedly abused
her. Rosie, a beautiful Golden Retriever, who became known worldwide
as "Rosie the Courthouse Dog" passed away on November 12, 2012 at the
age of 13. This law will honor Rosie and ensure that more courthouses
are opened to facility dogs such as Rosie to allow for a more
efficient, effective and compassionate justice system.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: This is a new bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This bill will take effect immediately.

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

                                 4865--A

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                             April 29, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sens.  GIPSON,  AVELLA, BALL, CARLUCCI, PARKER, SAMPSON,
  SAVINO -- read twice and ordered  printed,  and  when  printed  to  be
  committed  to  the  Committee  on  Codes -- committee discharged, bill
  amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said  commit-
  tee

AN  ACT  to  amend  the criminal procedure law, in relation to providing
  witnesses with facility dogs

  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 shall be cited as "Rosie's
Law".
  S 2. Legislative intent. Testifying in  court  is  an  unfamiliar  and
stressful event for most people and certain individuals are at a greater
predisposition  to be impacted by this experience. Stress can hamper the
ability of a witness to provide testimony in a proceeding and  interfere
with  the truth finding process. Scientific evidence has shown that calm
dogs reduce stress in humans. When certain individuals are permitted  to
have a facility dog assist them while testifying during a court proceed-
ing  it  helps  reduce their stress so that they can better communicate.
The purpose of this legislation is to facilitate the truth finding proc-
ess through fair and accurate  testimony.  If  in  order  to  facilitate
testimony  that  is fair and accurate, the court determines by a prepon-
derance of the evidence that a vulnerable witness could suffer emotional
distress while testifying in court that could impair the ability of  the
victim or witness to effectively communicate, the court may order that a
facility  dog or the equivalent thereof, if available, may accompany the
vulnerable witness to the witness stand or be visible to the  vulnerable
witness in the courtroom.
  S  3. The criminal procedure law is amended by adding a new article 67
to read as follows:

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD10376-05-3

S. 4865--A                          2

                               ARTICLE 67
               USE OF FACILITY DOGS FOR CERTAIN WITNESSES
SECTION 67.00 DEFINITIONS.
        67.10 USE OF FACILITY DOGS; GENERAL RULE.
S 67.00 DEFINITIONS.
  AS USED IN THIS ARTICLE THE FOLLOWING TERMS SHALL HAVE THE MEANINGS AS
INDICATED:
  1.  "FACILITY  DOG"  MEANS A DOG THAT IS A GRADUATE FROM AN ASSISTANCE
DOG ORGANIZATION ACCREDITED BY ASSISTANCE DOGS INTERNATIONAL. A FACILITY
DOG MUST BE  PARTNERED  WITH  A  WORKING  PROFESSIONAL  FACILITATOR,  BE
SKILLED AT MAINTAINING A CALM MANNER, AND HAVE GOOD SOCIAL BEHAVIOR IN A
VARIETY  OF  ENVIRONMENTS.  A  FACILITY  DOG  MUST ALSO BE ACCUSTOMED TO
INTERACTING WITH INDIVIDUALS WITH PHYSICAL,  EMOTIONAL  AND/OR  DEVELOP-
MENTAL DISABILITIES.
  2. "VULNERABLE WITNESS" MEANS A VICTIM OR WITNESS WHO IS DETERMINED BY
THE  COURT  TO  BE  UNABLE  TO  EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE ON THE STAND FOR
REASONS INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO LANGUAGE, INTELLECTUAL OR EMOTIONAL
DISABILITY, ANXIETY, FEAR, INTIMIDATION, OR AGE.
S 67.10 USE OF FACILITY DOGS; GENERAL RULE.
  1. A COURT SHALL PERMIT THE USE OF A FACILITY DOG WHEN, IN A  CRIMINAL
PROCEEDING  INVOLVING  THE  TESTIMONY OF A VULNERABLE WITNESS, THE COURT
DETERMINES BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE THAT  IT  IS  LIKELY  THAT
SUCH  WITNESS  WILL  BE UNABLE TO EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE IF REQUIRED TO
TESTIFY WITHOUT THE PRESENCE OF SUCH FACILITY DOG AND THAT THE  PRESENCE
OF SUCH FACILITY DOG WILL FACILITATE SUCH TESTIMONY.
  2.  A  FACILITY DOG IS EQUALLY AVAILABLE TO THE DEFENSE OR PROSECUTION
WITNESSES FOR THIS PURPOSE.
  3. UPON MOTION OF THE PARTY WISHING TO USE A FACILITY DOG,  THE  COURT
SHALL  CONDUCT  A HEARING. IT SHALL BE THE BURDEN OF THE MOVING PARTY TO
DEMONSTRATE TO THE COURT BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE THAT THE USE
OF SUCH A FACILITY  DOG  IS  A  REASONABLE  ACCOMMODATION  BECAUSE  SUCH
WITNESS  MAY  BE  HAMPERED  OR  UNABLE  TO PROVIDE TESTIMONY WITHOUT THE
ASSISTANCE OF THE FACILITY DOG.
  4. A JURY INSTRUCTION SHALL BE GIVEN BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THE APPEAR-
ANCE OF THE FACILITY DOG WITH THE WITNESS AND AT THE CONCLUSION  OF  THE
TRIAL.  SUCH  INSTRUCTION SHALL INCLUDE THAT THE DOG IS A HIGHLY TRAINED
PROFESSIONAL WHO IS PROPERLY REFERRED TO AS A "COURTHOUSE FACILITY DOG."
INCLUDED IN THIS SHALL BE THE EMPHASIS THAT THE DOG IS NOT A PET, IS NOT
OWNED BY THE WITNESS AND IS EQUALLY AVAILABLE TO  BOTH  THE  PROSECUTION
AND  DEFENSE UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. SUCH INSTRUCTION SHALL INCLUDE
THAT THE PRESENCE OF THE FACILITY DOG IS IN NO WAY TO BE INTERPRETED  AS
REFLECTING  ON  THE TRUTHFULNESS OF THE TESTIMONY OFFERED. SUCH INSTRUC-
TION SHALL ALSO INCLUDE THAT THE PRESENCE OF THE  DOG  IS  A  REASONABLE
ACCOMMODATION  TO THE WITNESS IN ALLOWING THEM TO FULFILL THE OBLIGATION
OF TESTIFYING IN A COURT OF LAW.
  5. THE POTENTIAL UNAVAILABILITY OF A FACILITY DOG SHALL NOT BE CONSID-
ERED BY THE COURT TO BE PREJUDICIAL IN ANY WAY TO EITHER THE PROSECUTION
OR DEFENSE. THE USE OF SUCH A DOG SHALL NECESSARILY BE DETERMINED BY THE
AVAILABILITY AND REASONABLE EFFORTS NECESSARY TO SECURE  THE  ASSISTANCE
OF  A FACILITY DOG. SHOULD THE COURT DEEM THAT THE SECURING OF AN APPRO-
PRIATE FACILITY DOG WOULD BE AN UNREASONABLE BURDEN, THEN THE  TESTIMONY
OF  THE  WITNESS  SHALL  PROCEED WITHOUT THE ACCOMMODATION OF A FACILITY
DOG.
  S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.

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