Relates to the jurisdiction of the justice center's special prosecutor and inspector general.
Ayes (61): Addabbo, Amedore, Avella, Bonacic, Boyle, Breslin, Carlucci, Comrie, Croci, DeFrancisco, Dilan, Espaillat, Farley, Felder, Flanagan, Funke, Gallivan, Gianaris, Golden, Griffo, Hamilton, Hannon, Hassell-Thomps, Hoylman, Kennedy, Klein, Krueger, Lanza, Larkin, Latimer, LaValle, Little, Marcellino, Marchione, Martins, Montgomery, Murphy, Nozzolio, O'Mara, Ortt, Panepinto, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Ranzenhofer, Ritchie, Rivera, Robach, Sampson, Sanders, Savino, Serino, Serrano, Seward, Skelos, Squadron, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousin, Valesky, Venditto, Young
Excused (2): Diaz, Libous
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to jurisdiction of the justice center's special prosecutor and inspector general
Purpose of the bill:
This bill would clarify that the Special Prosecutor and Inspector General ("Special Prosecutor") at the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs ("Justice Center") has concurrent authority with District Attorneys to prosecute offenses involving abuse or neglect of vulnerable persons by custodians.
Summary of Provisions:
Section 1 of the bill would amend Executive Law § 552(2)(a) and (c) to clarify that the Justice Center's Special Prosecutor has the authority to prosecute offenses involving abuse or neglect of vulnerable persons by custodians in any state court in New York having appropriate jurisdiction,
Section 2 of the bill would make it effective immediately, and would deem these provisions to have been in full force and effect on or after June 30, 2013.
Article 20 of the Executive Law creates and sets forth the powers and duties of the Justice Center. With respect to the Justice Center's criminal authority, Executive Law § 552(2)(a)(i) imparts the Justice Center's Special Prosecutor with the express power "to investigate and prosecute offenses involving abuse or neglect, as defined in subdivision eleven of section four hundred eighty-eight of the social services law, committed against vulnerable persons by custodians."
Social Services Law § 488 defines "abuse or neglect" as the conduct described in Social Services Law § 488 (1)(a) to (h), which defines seven types of abuse (physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, deliberate inappropriate use of restraints, use of aversive conditioning, obstruction or reports of reportable incidents, unlawful use or administration of a controlled substance) and neglect.
Criminal Procedure Law § 1.20(32) defines a "District Attorney" as including "the special prosecutor and inspector general for the protection of people with special needs or his or her assistants when acting pursuant to their duties in matters arising under article twenty of the executive law."
Prior Legislative History:
This is a new bill.
Statement in Support:
The Protection of People with Special Needs Act (PPSNA) (Ch. 501, L. 2012) created the Justice Center, whose primary purpose is to protect
people with special needs by implementing the set of uniform standards set forth in the legislation, with respect to the reporting, investigation and response to allegations of abuse or neglect committed against persons. According to the PPSNA's Legislative Findings and Purpose, "To bolster the ability of the state to respond more effectively to abuse and neglect of vulnerable persons, without creating additional burdens on local law enforcement, the justice center will have concurrent authority with district attorneys to prosecute abuse and neglect crimes committed against such persons." Ch. 501, L. 2012, Part A, p.2. In addition, the definition of District Attorney was amended to include the Justice Center's Special Prosecutor, or his or her assistants, when acting pursuant to their duties in matters arising under article twenty of the executive law.
Despite this clear legislative mandate, in a decision rendered on April 29, 2014, in People v Davidson, a Lansing Town Court Justice dismissed the criminal charges pending against a defendant, ruling that the Justice Center's Special Prosecutor and Inspector General lacked jurisdiction to prosecute offenses in a local justice court. The Justice Center recently won its appeal of this decision. , but is proposing that the statute be amended in order to codify the court's decision and to give effect to the unequivocal legislative intent. The amendment would avoid the potential of obtaining inconsistent determinations among the different local courts. . As noted in the Legislative Findings and Purpose, one purpose of giving the Justice Center's Special Prosecutor and Inspector General concurrent jurisdiction was to avoid creating additional burdens on district attorneys, while at the same time bolstering the State's ability to respond more effectively to abuse and neglect. If other local courts rule as the Davidson court ruled, that the Justice Center's prosecutors could not appear in local justice courts, then District Attorneys would be solely responsible for prosecuting cases in those courts - or District Attorneys may decide that they do not have the resources to do so. Moreover, the Justice Center would be compelled to present all such cases to a grand jury, even those in which it would only charge misdemeanor offenses, which ordinarily do not need to be presented to a grand jury, in order to obtain jurisdiction to prosecute them. This is not an effective use of the grand jury's time, and would likely delay the bringing of charges.
By amending the statute to clarify that the Justice Center's Special Prosecutor and Inspector General has the authority to prosecute in "any state court in New York having appropriate jurisdiction," this bill would give effect to the Legislative intent, prevent any burden to localities and District Attorneys that could result from limiting the authority of the Justice Center's Special Prosecutor and Inspector General, and codify the decision of the appellate court in Davidson
This bill would be implemented within existing resources. Local Impact: This bill would have a positive impact on local governments by clarifying that the Justice Center's Special Prosecutor has the authority to bring criminal charges in local courts, saving resources of the local District Attorneys and grand juries.
This bill would take effect immediately and be deemed to have been in effect on and after June 30, 2013.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4981 2015-2016 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 27, 2015 ___________Introduced by Sen. ORTT -- (at request of the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to jurisdiction of the justice center's special prosecutor and inspector general THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Paragraphs (a) and (c) of subdivision 2 of section 552 of the executive law, as added by section 3 of part A of chapter 501 of the laws of 2012, are amended to read as follows: (a) The justice center also shall employ a special prosecutor and inspector general for the protection of people with special needs ("special prosecutor"), who shall be appointed by the governor. Other state agencies shall be required to make facilities available for office space throughout the state and to assist when requested with respect to the duties of the office. Pursuant to the provisions of this section, such special prosecutor shall have the duty and power: (i) to investi- gate and prosecute, IN ANY STATE COURT IN NEW YORK HAVING APPROPRIATE JURISDICTION, offenses involving abuse or neglect, as defined in subdi- vision eleven of section four hundred eighty-eight of the social services law, committed against vulnerable persons by custodians as defined in subdivision two of section four hundred eighty-eight of the social services law; and (ii) to cooperate with and assist district attorneys and other local law enforcement officials in their efforts against such abuse or neglect of vulnerable persons. Provided that nothing herein shall interfere with the ability of district attorneys at any time to receive complaints, investigate and prosecute any suspected abuse or neglect or for any persons, whether a mandated reporter or not, to report a complaint to a district attorney or other appropriate law enforcement official. The special prosecutor may request and shallEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD09612-01-5 S. 4981 2
receive, from any agency, department, division, board, bureau or commis- sion of the state, or any political subdivision thereof, cooperation and assistance in the performance of his or her duties, and may provide technical and other assistance to any district attorney or law enforce- ment official requesting assistance in the investigation or prosecution of abuse or neglect of vulnerable persons. (c) The special prosecutor or one of his or her assistants may APPEAR IN ANY STATE COURT IN NEW YORK HAVING APPROPRIATE JURISDICTION AND, after consultation with the district attorney as to the time and place of such attendance or appearance, attend in person any term of the coun- ty court or supreme court having appropriate jurisdiction, including an extraordinary special or trial term of the supreme court when one is appointed pursuant to section one hundred forty-nine of the judiciary law, or appear before the grand jury thereof, for the purpose of manag- ing and conducting in such court or before such jury a criminal action or proceeding concerned with an offense where any conduct constituting or requisite to the completion of or in any other manner related to such offense involved the abuse or neglect of a vulnerable person, as defined in subdivision eleven of section four hundred eighty-eight of the social services law. In such case, such special prosecutor or his or her assistant so attending may exercise all the powers and perform all the duties in respect of such actions or proceedings which the district attorney would otherwise be authorized or required to exercise or perform. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall be deemed to have been in full force and effect on and after June 30, 2013.