Permits a social worker, rape crisis counselor, or other professional to provide emotional support to a vulnerable elderly person testifying in certain grand jury proceedings provided that the district attorney consents.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to permitting a social worker or other professional to provide emotional support to a vulnerable elderly person testifying in certain grand jury proceedings
PURPOSE: This bill would permit a vulnerable elderly person to be accompanied by a professional support person whenever that elder is called before a grand jury to give evidence, provided the district attorney consents.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill amends the criminal procedure law by adding a new subdivision 3(i) which would allow a social worker, rape crisis counselor, psychologist, or other professional providing emotional support to a vulnerable elderly person to accompany such person before a grand jury to give evidence, provided the district attorney consents. The support person shall not offer the witness with an answer to any question or otherwise participate in such proceeding. The support person would also be required to take an oath before the grand jury that he or she will keep the grand jury proceedings secret within his or her own knowledge. Specifies that "vulnerable elderly person" is used for purposes of this subdivision as defined by section 260.31 of the penal law.
Section 2 of the bill is the effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: Many elderly crime victims are intimidated by the prospect of having to appear alone before a grand jury (which consists of 23 strangers) to give testimony under oath. Other older persons are distrustful of certain aspects of our criminal justice system because they do not understand the process. Many of these elderly crime victims are ill or disabled, in wheelchairs or on oxygen, and need the presence of a support person if they are to give evidence before a grand jury. Under the provisions of this bill only those older persons defined under section 260.03(3) of the penal law as a "vulnerable elderly person" would be able to have a professional support person accompany them with the consent of the district attorney. A "vulnerable elderly person" is defined as someone who is sixty years of age or older who is suffering from a disease of infirmity associated with advanced age and manifested by demonstrable physical, mental or emotional dysfunction to the extent that the person is incapable of adequately providing for his or her own health or personal care. Permitting a professional support person to accompany the vulnerable elderly person when he or she appears before a grand jury will help assure that elderly crime victims receive access to justice in New York State. This bill has been requested by the Elder Law Sub-Committee of the New York State District Attorney's Association.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: S.6582/A.11208 of 2002; Passed Senate S.1512/A.2428A of 2003/2004; Passed Senate S.1159/A.S18G of 2005/2006; Referred to Codes S.952/A.902 of 2007/2008; Passed Senate/Died in Assembly S.2151/A.1708 of 2009/2010; Referred to Codes
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: The first day of November next succeeding the date on which it shall become law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 163 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 5, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sens. MAZIARZ, DeFRANCISCO, DIAZ, RANZENHOFER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes AN ACT to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to permitting a social worker or other professional to provide emotional support to a vulnerable elderly person testifying in certain grand jury proceedings THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 3 of section 190.25 of the criminal procedure law is amended by adding a new paragraph (i) to read as follows: (I) A SOCIAL WORKER, RAPE CRISIS COUNSELOR, PSYCHOLOGIST OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL PROVIDING EMOTIONAL SUPPORT TO A VULNERABLE ELDERLY PERSON, AS THAT TERM IS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISION THREE OF SECTION 260.31 OF THE PENAL LAW, AS ADDED BY CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED EIGHTY-ONE OF THE LAWS OF NINETEEN HUNDRED NINETY-EIGHT, WHO IS CALLED TO GIVE EVIDENCE IN A GRAND JURY PROCEEDING, CONCERNING ANY TYPE OF OFFENSE, PROVIDED THAT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY CONSENTS. SUCH SUPPORT PERSON SHALL NOT PROVIDE THE WITNESS WITH AN ANSWER TO ANY QUESTION OR OTHERWISE PARTICIPATE IN SUCH PROCEEDING AND SHALL FIRST TAKE AN OATH BEFORE THE GRAND JURY THAT HE OR SHE WILL KEEP SECRET ALL MATTERS BEFORE SUCH GRAND JURY WITHIN HIS OR HER KNOWLEDGE. S 2. This act shall take effect on the first of November next succeed- ing the date on which it shall have become a law.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD01660-01-1