A06509 Summary:

COSPNSRAubry, Mosley, Jaffee, Dilan, Harris
Add S70-b, Exec L; amd S190.25, CP L
Establishes the office of special investigation within the department of law to investigate and prosecute any alleged criminal offense or offenses committed by a police officer or peace officer, concerning the death of any person as a result of any encounter with such police officer or peace officer.
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A06509 Actions:

03/25/2015referred to codes
06/05/2015amend and recommit to codes
06/05/2015print number 6509a
06/08/2015reported referred to ways and means
06/15/2015reported referred to rules
06/15/2015rules report cal.465
06/15/2015ordered to third reading rules cal.465
06/16/2015passed assembly
06/16/2015delivered to senate
01/06/2016DIED IN SENATE
01/06/2016ordered to third reading cal.247
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A06509 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
SPONSOR: Wright (MS)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law and the criminal procedure law, in relation to establishing the office of special inves- tigation   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The bill is designed to increase transparency and facilitate additional involvement of the court in grand jury proceedings. Additionally, in order to enhance public confidence in the integrity of proceedings in certain instances involving the use of deadly force by police and peace officers, the bill would authorize the designation or appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and/or prosecute such cases.   SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section one would establish an Office of Special Investigation within the New York State Department of Law (the formal name of the New York State office of the Attorney General). The Office of Special Investi- gation would, in certain circumstances, be empowered to investigate and prosecute alleged criminal offenses committed by a police or peace offi- cer that involved the use of deadly force against an individual who neither displayed nor threatened the immediate use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. When the police or peace officer allegedly involved was employed by the State of New York, the Attorney General would be authorized to apply to the court for appointment of an independent special prosecutor to inves- tigate and potentially prosecute the matter. Section two would amend subdivision two of section 190.25 of the Crimi- nal Procedure Law to assure that, as a part of carrying out his or her duties under law, a judge of the superior court is authorized to be present in the grand jury room, except during deliberations and voting by the grand jury. Section three would make information and records concerning certain grand jury proceedings more readily available to the public. In proceedings involving any defendant, when the grand jury does not bring an indictment for a felony charge, the following information would be presumptively available for release: the criminal charges submitted, legal instructions given to the grand jury, testimony of expert witnesses, testimony of public servants who testified in an official capacity, and the testimony of other witnesses (redacted as necessary to prevent discovery of their names and personal data or information that may reveal identity). Both the district attorney and the person against whom charges were presented would be able to appear and be heard in support of or oppo- sition to any application for release of such information and records. In cases involving the submission of a potential criminal charge against a police officer or peace officer, legal instructions would be given by the superior court judge in charge of the grand jury. After submission of such charge or charges and final action on them by the grand jury, these legal instructions would be available for public release, provided that the names of witnesses and any information that would identify a witness would be redacted if the court determined that public release of such information would endanger any person.   JUSTIFICATION: It is vital that the public have confidence that our criminal justice system is impartial and fair. This confidence must be borne not just of perception, but of reality. This legislation is designed to enhance public confidence in several ways. First, in all cases, it expressly authorizes the presence of a superior court judge in the grand jury room, except during deliberations and voting. Under existing law, the grand jury is empaneled by the supe- rior court and "constitut  es a part of such court." Criminal Procedure Law § 190.05. The judge, along with the district attorney, serves as legal advisor to the grand jury. CPL § 190.25 (6). Thus, it is certainly appropriate that the judge be among the persons authorized by CPL § 190.25 (3) to be in the grand jury room. Second, judges are also authorized to instruct grand jurors regarding their duties and regarding any matter before the grand jury. CPL § 190.25 (6). This bill provides that when the subject of possible grand jury action is a police officer or peace officer, legal instructions to the grand jury will be given by the court. This will enhance public confidence because the judge, an impartial arbiter, is never called upon to represent any interest before the court. When an indictment occurs under current law, public charges are filed and the public generally learns the specific charges and, as the matter unfolds, further details. However, when no indictment occurs, all infor- mation about the proceedings remains secret, unless released under limited circumstances. See CPL 190.25 (4) (a). In some recent cases involving police and deadly force that did not result in indictment, present law has led to confusion and concern, among some in the public, that appropriate evidence was not presented or necessary legal instructions were not given. This legislation carefully balances grand jury secrecy with the public's understandable desire to know more about what led to a "no true bill" result. Third, district attorneys and police work closely together in the inves- tigation of criminal acts. When an investigation involves police use of deadly force, it is reasonable to consider whether a district attorney can be impartial in investigating the facts and determining whether grand jury consideration is appropriate. This bill would establish an Office of Special Investigation within the N.Y. State Department of Law. After reviewing specified statutory factors, the office would be authorized to investigate and prosecute this limited class of cases in the same manner as a district attorney. In instances where the police officer or peace officer was employed by New York State, the office would be empowered to seek court appointment of a special assistant attorney general to investigate and potentially prosecute the matter.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: The bill may result in some increased costs to the state, and concom- itant savings for counties, as some prosecutions would be brought at state, rather than county, cost.   EFFECTIVE DATE: The bill takes effect immediately, provided that section two of the bill takes effect in thirty days.
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