S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K
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-
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
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.
S. 4865--A 2
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
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-
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
S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.