Relates to the definition of qualified agencies; adds public defenders, legal aid societies, and assigned counsel administrators.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to the definition of qualified agencies
PURPOSE: To authorize public defenders, legal aid societies, and administrators of assigned counsel plans to have access to the Division of Criminal Justice Services' criminal history records for use in connection with the representation of public defense clients as defined in County Law article 18-b.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 amends subdivision 9 of Executive Law section 835 to add public defenders, legal aid societies, and assigned counsel administrators to the list of qualified agencies. Qualified agencies may enter into agreements with the Division of Criminal Justice Services for access to its criminal history database as authorized by subdivision 6 of Executive Law section 837.
JUSTIFICATION: Agencies that are defined as "qualified agencies" under Executive Law § 835(9) have access to the criminal history records maintained by the Division of Criminal Justice Services. See Executive Law § 837(6); 9 NYCRR Part 6051. The proposed bill would add public defenders, legal aid societies, and administrators of assigned counsel programs to the list of qualified agencies. Public defense providers would then be able to enter into use and dissemination agreements with the Division of Criminal Justice Services that would govern their access to criminal history information.
In order to provide effective representation, including bail applications, case investigation, plea negotiation, and sentencing advocacy, public defense attorneys need to have ready access to criminal history reports of clients and witness. Currently, public defense providers rely on district attorneys, judges, and other members of the criminal justice community for access to criminal history reports; often, disclosure of these reports is not timely. Providing public defense counsel direct access to criminal history reports will help them provide effective representation to their clients and will improve the efficiency of the entire criminal justice system in New York State.
In 1991, counsel for the Division of Criminal Justice Services acknowledged the importance of granting public defense counsel direct access to criminal history information: "Since defense representation is a criminal justice function and an integral part of the criminal justice system, it is a natural extension to grant defense counsel the same ability to access Division of Criminal Justice Services criminal history records currently afforded to prosecutors." 1991 Legislative Proposal IR Memorandum, M. Dawn Herkenham, Counsel, Division of Criminal Justice Services to Evan A. Davis, Counsel to the Governor. The Division of Criminal Justice Services' Systems Improvements for Enhanced Community Safety (SIFECS) public Defense State I Report (1990) also advocated for public defense counsel having direct access to criminal history information. "Ready access to criminal histories
will benefit the defense and positively impact the efficiency of the criminal justice system." Public Defense State I Report, 111-3.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: Senate 2009-10: S.8229 - Passed Senate Assembly 2009-10: A.11602 (Lentol) - Referred to Governmental Operations
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Minimal,
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 3326 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 31, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sens. HASSELL-THOMPSON, GRISANTI, KRUEGER, MARTINS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Finance AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to the definition of qualified agencies THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 9 of section 835 of the executive law, as sepa- rately amended by chapters 14 and 155 of the laws of 2012, is amended to read as follows: 9. "Qualified agencies" means courts in the unified court system, the administrative board of the judicial conference, probation departments, sheriffs' offices, district attorneys' offices, the state department of corrections and community supervision, the department of correction of any municipality, the financial frauds and consumer protection unit of the state department of financial services, the office of professional medical conduct of the state department of health for the purposes of section two hundred thirty of the public health law, the child protec- tive services unit of a local social services district when conducting an investigation pursuant to subdivision six of section four hundred twenty-four of the social services law, the office of Medicaid inspector general, the temporary state commission of investigation, police forces and departments having responsibility for enforcement of the general criminal laws of the state, the Onondaga County Center for Forensic Sciences Laboratory when acting within the scope of its law enforcement duties and the division of forensic services of the Nassau county medical examiner's office when acting within the scope of its law enforcement duties AND PUBLIC DEFENDERS, LEGAL AID SOCIETIES, AND ASSIGNED COUNSEL ADMINISTRATORS. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD04673-03-3