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 the truth finding process through fair and accurate testimony by providing a judge with the discretion to allow vulnerable witnesses the ability to testify in the presence of a facility dog.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 entitles the bill "Rosie's Law."
Section 2 sets forth the legislative intent.
Section 3 adds a new article sixty-seven to the criminal procedure law. Section 67.00 defines facility dog and "vulnerable witness" for the purpose of this new Article. Section 67.10 sets forth the procedure for use by a judge to allow at their discretion to permit a vulnerable witness to have a facility dog present while testifying.
Section 4 provides that this act shall 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 person's 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. Courthouse dogs have already been successfully utilized in courtroom in Dutchess County, New York and in the states of Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, and Washington. 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: This is a new bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This bill will take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4865--A 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 29, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sens. GIPSON, AVELLA, BALL, CARLUCCI, PARKER, SAMPSON, SAVINO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said commit- tee 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 this experience. Stress can hamper the ability of a witness to provide testimony in a proceeding and interfere with the truth finding process. Scientific evidence has shown that calm dogs reduce stress in humans. When certain individuals are permitted to have a facility dog assist them while testifying during a court proceed- ing it helps reduce their stress so that they can better communicate. The purpose of this legislation is to facilitate the truth finding proc- ess through fair and accurate testimony. If in order to facilitate testimony that is fair and accurate, the court determines by a prepon- derance of the evidence that a vulnerable witness 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 vulnerable witness to the witness stand or be visible to the vulnerable witness in the courtroom. S 3. The criminal procedure law is amended by adding a new article 67 to read as follows:EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD10376-05-3 S. 4865--A 2
ARTICLE 67 USE OF FACILITY DOGS FOR CERTAIN WITNESSES SECTION 67.00 DEFINITIONS. 67.10 USE OF FACILITY DOGS; GENERAL RULE. S 67.00 DEFINITIONS. AS USED IN THIS ARTICLE THE FOLLOWING TERMS SHALL HAVE THE MEANINGS AS INDICATED: 1. "FACILITY DOG" MEANS A DOG THAT IS A GRADUATE FROM AN ASSISTANCE DOG ORGANIZATION ACCREDITED BY ASSISTANCE DOGS INTERNATIONAL. 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 DEVELOP- MENTAL DISABILITIES. 2. "VULNERABLE WITNESS" MEANS A VICTIM OR WITNESS WHO IS DETERMINED BY THE COURT TO BE UNABLE TO EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE ON THE STAND FOR REASONS INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO LANGUAGE, INTELLECTUAL OR EMOTIONAL DISABILITY, ANXIETY, FEAR, INTIMIDATION, OR AGE. 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 TESTIMONY OF A VULNERABLE WITNESS, 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 FACILITATE SUCH TESTIMONY. 2. A FACILITY DOG IS EQUALLY AVAILABLE TO THE DEFENSE OR PROSECUTION WITNESSES FOR THIS PURPOSE. 3. UPON MOTION OF THE PARTY WISHING TO USE A FACILITY DOG, THE COURT SHALL CONDUCT A HEARING. IT SHALL BE THE BURDEN OF THE MOVING PARTY TO DEMONSTRATE TO THE COURT BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE THAT THE USE OF SUCH A FACILITY DOG IS A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION BECAUSE SUCH WITNESS MAY BE HAMPERED OR UNABLE TO PROVIDE TESTIMONY WITHOUT THE ASSISTANCE OF THE FACILITY DOG. 4. A JURY INSTRUCTION SHALL BE GIVEN BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THE APPEAR- ANCE OF THE FACILITY DOG WITH THE WITNESS AND AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE TRIAL. SUCH INSTRUCTION SHALL INCLUDE THAT THE DOG IS A HIGHLY TRAINED PROFESSIONAL WHO IS PROPERLY REFERRED TO AS A "COURTHOUSE FACILITY DOG." INCLUDED IN THIS SHALL BE THE EMPHASIS THAT THE DOG IS NOT A PET, IS NOT OWNED BY THE WITNESS AND IS EQUALLY AVAILABLE TO BOTH THE PROSECUTION AND DEFENSE UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. SUCH INSTRUCTION SHALL INCLUDE THAT THE PRESENCE OF THE FACILITY DOG IS IN NO WAY TO BE INTERPRETED AS REFLECTING ON THE TRUTHFULNESS OF THE TESTIMONY OFFERED. SUCH INSTRUC- TION SHALL ALSO INCLUDE THAT THE PRESENCE OF THE DOG IS A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION TO THE WITNESS IN ALLOWING THEM TO FULFILL THE OBLIGATION OF TESTIFYING IN A COURT OF LAW. 5. THE POTENTIAL UNAVAILABILITY OF A FACILITY DOG SHALL NOT BE CONSID- ERED BY THE COURT TO BE PREJUDICIAL IN ANY WAY TO EITHER THE PROSECUTION OR DEFENSE. THE USE OF SUCH A DOG SHALL NECESSARILY BE DETERMINED BY THE AVAILABILITY AND REASONABLE EFFORTS NECESSARY TO SECURE THE ASSISTANCE OF A FACILITY DOG. SHOULD THE COURT DEEM THAT THE SECURING OF AN APPRO- PRIATE FACILITY DOG WOULD BE AN UNREASONABLE BURDEN, THEN THE TESTIMONY OF THE WITNESS SHALL PROCEED WITHOUT THE ACCOMMODATION OF A FACILITY DOG. S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.