senate Bill S599

2013-2014 Legislative Session

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

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


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

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 08, 2014 referred to judiciary
Jan 09, 2013 referred to judiciary

S599 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A292
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 Sessions:
2011-2012: S2529, A5344
2009-2010: S1589, A3795

S599 - Bill Texts

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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 NUMBER:S599

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:
2012: Senate Bill
2529 (Gianaris) - Died in Senate Judiciary
Committee
2012: Assembly Bill
5244 (O'Donnell) - Died in Assembly
Judiciary Committee
2010: Senate Bill
1589 (Schneiderman) - Died in
Senate Judiciary Committee
2010: Assembly Bill
3795 (Gianaris) -
Died in Assembly Judiciary Committee
2008: Senate Bill
8728
(Schneiderman) - Died in Senate Rules Committee
2008: Assembly Bill
4317 (Gianaris) - Died
in Assembly Judiciary Committee
2006: Assembly Bill
4084 (Gianaris) -
Died in Assembly Rules Committee
2004: Assembly Bill
9190 (Rules/Gianaris) - Died in Assembly
Judiciary Committee

EFFECTIVE DATE:


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

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

                                   599

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 9, 2013
                               ___________

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:

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD01678-01-3

S. 599                              2

  (I) ONE SHALL BE A REPRESENTATIVE OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY,
  (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. 599                              3

  S 902. PURPOSE AND CONDUCT OF THE COMMISSION.   THE  COMMISSION  SHALL
REVIEW ANY CRIMINAL OR JUVENILE CASE INVOLVING A WRONGFUL CONVICTION AND
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

S. 599                              4

ARTICLE  AS PART OF THE COMMISSION'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERN-
ING THE MATTER; AND
  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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