Directs the establishment of gun court calendars in criminal courts to hear cases involving unlawful gun possession and use and requires the expeditious scheduling of trials conducted therein; makes various provisions for the establishment of such calendar.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to establishing gun court calendars in the criminal courts
PURPOSE/SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The bill would amend the New York State Criminal Procedure Law to create a gun court calendar designed to exclusively hear gun related cases. The presiding justice of the criminal court in the state shall create a gun court calendar for the effected counties and shall assign personnel to process all criminal cases tried by the court. All trials assigned to the court will be scheduled within sixty days of the completion of discovery. No continuances or postponements shall be granted except for good cause shown. Necessary continuances will be granted for the shortest practicable time. The goals of the court are to reduce the number of gun cases and ensure that perpetrators serve prison time.
JUSTIFICATION: Findings indicate that there has been significant growth in the use of firearms in the commission of violent crimes. According to New York City police officials, guns were used in 34.2% of the 143,654 felonies committed in the City in 1993.
*47,991 felonies committed involving handguns
*784 felonies committed involving shotguns
*145 felonies committed involving rifles
*254 felonies committed involving machine guns
Figures for the State are equally bleak. According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, reported homicides committed with guns in 1993 totaled 1,739. Also, it is estimated that in 1994 over 9,600 individuals were arrested whose most serious charge at arrest involved firearm and armed felony offenses. Many of the shootings are drug or gang related and endanger law abiding citizens. Additionally, many of the gun offenses are committed while individuals are free on bail for other offenses. The growing number of gun related offenses constitutes a burden upon the State of New York and threatens the domestic tranquility of the State and its people. Especially affected are residents of the urban areas where these crimes are most prevalent. The Legislature recognizes that in order to deter the use of firearms in the commission of violent crime, and to protect the law abiding public, there must be swift disposition of gun related offenses. By placing
repeat offenders prone to weapon use in jail within months of their crime for a longer duration of time, crime will fall dramatically. Similar legislation has been successfully implemented in Rhode Island and has been supported by both the NRA and gun control groups.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect thirty days after the date upon which it shall have become a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6262 IN SENATE January 18, 2012 ___________Introduced by Sen. ESPAILLAT -- 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 establishing gun court calendars in the criminal courts THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Legislative intent. The legislature finds and declares that: (1) There has been significant growth in the use of firearms in the commission of violent crimes. (2) Many of the shootings are drug or gang related and endanger law abiding citizens. (3) Many of the gun offenses are committed while individuals are free on bail for other offenses. (4) The growing number of gun related offenses constitutes a burden upon the state of New York and threatens the domestic tranquility of the state and its people, especially residents of the urban areas where these crimes are most prevalent. (5) In order to deter the use of firearms in the commission of violent crimes, and to protect the law abiding public, there must be swift disposition of gun related offenses in our courts, and there must be the certain prospect of prison terms for those who are convicted of such crimes. It is therefore declared to be the policy of the state of New York to provide maximum safety and security to its people from unlawful gun related violence and intrusion upon their persons and property by expe- diting the processing and disposition of such cases and, unless other- wise provided, imposing prison terms that must be served. To accomplish this purpose in an effort to minimize delay in the proc- essing of criminal cases in this state relating to the illegal possession and use of guns and other dangerous weapons there shall be established a separate calendar within the jurisdiction of the criminal courts of this state for hearing trial and disposition of actionsEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD07288-01-1 S. 6262 2
brought pursuant to the provisions of the penal law wherein a firearm was used during the commission of any crime contained therein. S 2. The criminal procedure law is amended by adding a new section 10.50 to read as follows: S 10.50 GUN COURT CALENDAR. 1. EACH PRESIDING JUSTICE OF THE CRIMINAL COURTS OF THIS STATE SHALL CREATE A GUN COURT CALENDAR AND SHALL ASSIGN PERSONNEL TO THE EXTENT WARRANTED TO EXCLUSIVELY HEAR AND DECIDE ALL CRIMINAL ACTIONS INVOLVING OFFENSES WHEREIN A FIREARM WAS USED DURING THE COMMISSION OF ANY CRIME. SUCH CALENDAR SHALL BE REFERRED TO AS THE "GUN COURT CALENDAR" OF THE CRIMINAL COURT FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE PENAL LAW WHER- EIN A FIREARM WAS USED DURING THE COMMISSION OF ANY CRIME CONTAINED THEREIN. 2. ALL TRIALS IN THE CRIMINAL COURTS OF THIS STATE SCHEDULED FOR TRIAL ON THE GUN COURT CALENDAR SHALL BE COMMENCED WITHIN SIXTY DAYS OF THE COMPLETION OF DISCOVERY NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW. NO CONTINUANCES OR POSTPONEMENTS SHALL BE GRANTED EXCEPT FOR GOOD CAUSE SHOWN. SUCH CONTINUANCES AS ARE NECESSARY SHALL BE GRANTED FOR THE SHOR- TEST PRACTICABLE TIME. 3. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL A DEFENDANT BE PERMITTED TO RELY UPON THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION AS A BASIS FOR A DISMISSAL OF AN ACTION. S 3. This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall have become a law.