Relates to providing witnesses with facility dogs.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to providing witnesses with facility dogs
PURPOSE: To facilitate testimony the truth finding process through fair and accurate testimony by providing a judge with the discretion to allow certain witnesses the ability to testify in the presence of a facility dog.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill entitles the bill "Rosie' s Law."
Section 2 of the bill sets forth the legislative intent,
Section 3 of the bill adds a new article sixty-seven to the criminal procedure law to allow a judge at their discretion to permit either a victim or witness of a crime of violence or sexual assault, a child or physically, mentally or psychologically impaired person to have a facility dog present while testifying.
Section 4 of the bill sets forth that the bill will take effect immediately.
JUSTIFICATION: The purpose of a trial is to get to the truth of a matter, However, participating in courtroom or other legal proceedings (e.g., depositions, forensic interviews) is arguably one of the most emotionally trying events that most people experience. The stress is compounded for certain individuals. The presence of a well trained dog can significantly reduce the anxiety associated with these experiences thereby improving the efficiency and quality of a persons communications.
The use of dogs in the courtroom has expanded rapidly in the United States and is now spreading worldwide, as a mechanism for calming and supporting individuals involved in courtroom proceedings. The scientific evidence for the physical and mental calming effects of appropriately bred and trained dogs is now overwhelming, and includes both physical and psychological effects across short and long time frames
For instance, there is strong evidence of short-term physical effects: petting an animal produces short-term decreases in blood pressure and/or heart rate In fact, these effects may be seen even in individuals simply in the presence of a dog Of less relevance to this discussion are the many studies illustrating pronounced long-term positive effects on physical health as well.
There are also well-documented short-term (and long-term) effects on psychological health, including positive effects on social communication and ability to make social contacts, reduction in feelings of loneliness and isolation, and improvements in depression and self-esteem.
The use of facility dogs can help bring about an important change in how we meet the emotional needs of all involved in the criminal justice system.
This law is named for Rosie who was the first Assistance Dog allowed by a New York State court to accompany a witness into the witness box during testimony. During the testimony, Rosie lied motionless on the floor of the witness stand, using only her snout to press into the teen's lower leg to bring calm when needed. Rosie enabled the child victim to testify in court against the man who had repeatedly abused her. Rosie, a beautiful Golden Retriever, who became known worldwide as "Rosie the Courthouse Dog" passed away on November 12, 2012 at the age of 13. This law will honor Rosie and ensure that more courthouses are opened to facility dogs such as Rosie to allow for a more efficient, effective and compassionate justice system.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act will take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4865 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 29, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. GIPSON -- 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 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 Law". 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 the stress. The stress can hamper the ability of a witness to provide testimony in a proceeding and interfere with the truth finding process. It has been shown that when certain individuals are permitted to have a facility dog assist them in a court- house setting it helps reduce victim or witness anxiety. The purpose of this legislation is to facilitate the truth finding process through fair and accurate testimony. If in order to facilitate testimony that is fair and accurate, the court determines by a preponderance of the evidence that a victim or witness who is either under the age of 18, physically or mentally impaired or a victim or witness of a crime of violence or sexual assault 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 victim or witness to the witness stand or be visible to the victim or witness in the courtroom. S 3. The criminal procedure law is amended by adding a new article 67 to read as follows: ARTICLE 67 USE OF FACILITY DOGS FOR CERTAIN WITNESSES SECTION 67.00 DEFINITIONS. 67.10 USE OF FACILITY DOGS; GENERAL RULE.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD10376-02-3 S. 4865 2
S 67.00 DEFINITIONS. AS USED IN THIS ARTICLE "FACILITY DOG" MEANS A DOG THAT IS A GRADUATE FROM AN ASSISTANCE DOG ORGANIZATION ACCREDITED BY ASSISTANCE DOG INTER- NATIONAL. 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 DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES. 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 PROSECUTION OF AN OFFENSE COMMITTED AGAINST OR WITNESSED BY A PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, OR PSYCHOLOGICALLY IMPAIRED PERSON OR A CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN OR A VICTIM OR WITNESS OF A CRIME OF VIOLENCE OR SEXUAL ASSAULT, 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 FACIL- ITATE SUCH TESTIMONY. 2. WHEN THE COURT DECLARES THAT THE USE OF A FACILITY DOG IS APPROPRI- ATE, IT SHALL INSTRUCT THE JURY THAT THE FACILITY DOGS ARE USED IN A COURTHOUSE SETTING TO HELP REDUCE VICTIM OR WITNESS ANXIETY AND THAT NO SIGNIFICANCE SHOULD BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE DOG'S PRESENCE, NOR DOES IT SUGGEST THE COURT'S OR COUNSEL'S ENDORSEMENT OF THE TESTIFYING VICTIM OR WITNESS. S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.