Enacts the Michael Sandy Act, providing that evidence of a defendant and victim having the same protected category is inadmissible in hate crime cases unless determined relevant by the court.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to enacting the Michael Sandy act
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The goal of this bill is to prevent the defense from using the fact that the offender is the same protected category as the victim to avoid hate crime charges unless the court states it is absolutely necessary to evaluating the case.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1 makes evidence of defendant and victim in a hate crime case sharing the same protected category inadmissible unless the court finds it to be essential to the understanding of the crime based on proof.
JUSTIFICATION: Since its enactment in 2000, the hate crimes statute has enabled prosecutors to pursue perpetrators who select their victims because of the victim's real or perceived race, color, origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation or who commit offenses against their victims because of a belief or perception regarding the above listed characteristics. Unfortunately, the law is inadequate to address situations in which evidence is presented before a jury concerning a defendant's sharing one or more of the characteristics with the victim.
This bill will create a procedural protection in hate crime trials that could involve the presentation of evidence of the sharing of characteristics between the defendant and the victim. In at least one high profile case in which the victim was selected because of his sexual orientation, the defendant exposed the jury to evidence that he shared the same sexual orientation of the victim. This tactic was seemingly used to instill in jurors' minds that a gay man could not commit a hate crime against another gay man although the hate crimes statute pointedly does not prevent the prosecution of a case where the perpetrator and the victim share the same characteristic of which the victim was targeted.
The presentation of evidence of the shared characteristic is unduly prejudicial and frustrates the purpose of the hate crimes statute. Evidence suggests that the danger of undue prejudice is especially acute where sexual orientation is concerned. Anecdotal evidence suggests that despite recent social and legal developments the understanding of non-heterosexual orientations is low, especially where complex psychological and sociological issues are involved. Social science evidence suggests that many perpetrators of anti-lesbian, anti-bisexual, or anti-gay crimes may themselves be internally struggling with issues around their own sexual orientation and that this inner turmoil may drive them to select victims based on their real or perceived sexual orientation.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: None.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6370 IN SENATE January 21, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. HOYLMAN -- 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 enacting the Michael Sandy act 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 may be cited as the "Michael Sandy act". S 2. The criminal procedure law is amended by adding a new section 60.77 to read as follows: S 60.77 RULES OF EVIDENCE; ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE OF DEFENDANT AND VICTIM FALLING UNDER THE SAME PROTECTED CATEGORY IN HATE CRIME CASES. EVIDENCE OF DEFENDANT HAVING THE SAME RACE, COLOR, NATIONAL ORIGIN, ANCESTRY, GENDER, RELIGION, RELIGIOUS PRACTICE, AGE, DISABILITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, OR OTHER CATEGORY, DEFINED IN ARTICLE FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY- FIVE OF THE PENAL LAW, OF THE VICTIM MAY NOT BE ADMITTED IN A PROSE- CUTION FOR ANY OFFENSE, OR AN ATTEMPT TO COMMIT AN OFFENSE, DEFINED IN ARTICLE FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY-FIVE OF THE PENAL LAW, UNLESS SUCH EVIDENCE IS DETERMINED BY THE COURT TO BE RELEVANT AND ADMISSIBLE IN THE INTER- ESTS OF JUSTICE, AFTER AN OFFER OF PROOF BY THE PROPONENT OF SUCH EVIDENCE OUTSIDE THE HEARING OF THE JURY, OR SUCH HEARING AS THE COURT MAY REQUIRE, AND A STATEMENT BY THE COURT OF ITS FINDINGS OF FACT ESSEN- TIAL TO ITS DETERMINATION. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD08638-01-3