Relates to grand jury proceedings.
Ayes (58): Addabbo, Avella, Ball, Bonacic, Boyle, Breslin, Carlucci, DeFrancisco, Diaz, Dilan, Espaillat, Farley, Felder, Flanagan, Gallivan, Gianaris, Gipson, Golden, Griffo, Grisanti, Hannon, Kennedy, Klein, Krueger, Lanza, Larkin, Latimer, LaValle, Libous, Little, Marcellino, Marchione, Martins, Maziarz, Montgomery, Nozzolio, O'Brien, O'Mara, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Ranzenhofer, Ritchie, Rivera, Robach, Sampson, Sanders, Savino, Serrano, Seward, Skelos, Squadron, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousins, Tkaczyk, Valesky, Young, Zeldin
Excused (3): Hassell-Thomps, Hoylman, Smith
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to grand jury proceedings
To allow a social worker or informal caregiver to be present and give care to a vulnerable elderly person during grand jury proceedings.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 amends paragraph (h) of subdivision 3 of § 190.25 of the Criminal Procedure Law, to allow a social worker or informal caregiver to be present and give care to a vulnerable elderly person during grand jury proceedings.
Section 2 states that this act shall take effect immediately
Testifying before the grand jury can be a stressful experience for any crime victim. Such stress can be particularly detrimental to elderly witnesses, who may suffer from physical, mental or emotional impairment. These vulnerable individuals are frequently afraid to testify against the defendant, especially when the defendant is a former caregiver, or an abusive family member. Moreover, many of these victims have physical limitations that make testifying difficult and, on occasion, embarrassing. To calm these concerns, the Assistant District Attorney often wears two hats in the grand jury: prosecutor and temporary caregiver.
It is not appropriate or sensitive to require a prosecutor to oversee the presentation of evidence, and control of the proceedings and also provide physical or emotional support to elderly witnesses. Prosecutors have had to elicit evidence while wiping drool from the chin of a Parkinson's sufferer; introduce documents into evidence while turning pages for a wheelchair-bound victim; and assist victim's in reinserting hearing aids, into a victims ear. While prosecutors have gladly accepted these responsibilities while assisting elderly victims, these practices are unnecessary and insensitive to the needs of our elderly. Despite these and other prosecutors' best efforts, vulnerable elderly witnesses often remain overwhelmed with anxiety, or suffer physical indignities before an audience of 23 grand jurors. And as a practical matter, the presentation of evidence may be slowed considerably making the process all the more difficult for victims.
The Criminal Procedure Law currently permits a social worker, rape crisis counselor, psychologist or other professional to accompany a child witness into the grand jury. It is now time to provide this valuable assistance to our elderly victims when necessary. Such individuals are prohibited from providing witnesses with answers, must take an oath to maintain the secrecy of the proceeding, and may only fulfill their function with the consent of the prosecutor. The same limitations would apply when an "informal caregiver" or "professional social worker" would accompany a "vulnerable elderly person" into the grand jury.
Not all elderly victims will require social workers or other professional counselors. For that reason, this bill includes "informal caregiver," who might be a trusted family member, friend or neighbor. Second, the proposal would use the current definition of "vulnerable elderly person" from the Penal Law.
This act shall take effect immediately
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7188 IN SENATE May 2, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. NOZZOLIO -- 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 grand jury proceedings THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Paragraph (h) of subdivision 3 of section 190.25 of the criminal procedure law, as amended by chapter 405 of the laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows: (h) A social worker, rape crisis counselor, psychologist or other professional providing emotional support to a child witness twelve years old or younger, OR A SOCIAL WORKER OR INFORMAL CAREGIVER, AS PROVIDED IN SUBDIVISION TWO OF SECTION TWO HUNDRED SIX OF THE ELDER LAW, FOR A VULNERABLE ELDERLY PERSON AS PROVIDED IN SUBDIVISION THREE OF SECTION 260.31 OF THE PENAL LAW, who is called to give evidence in a grand jury proceeding concerning a crime defined in article one hundred twenty-one, article one hundred thirty, article two hundred sixty, section 120.10, 125.10, 125.15, 125.20, 125.25, 125.26, 125.27, 255.25, 255.26 or 255.27 of the penal law provided that the district attorney consents. Such support person shall not provide the witness with an answer to any ques- tion or otherwise participate in such proceeding and shall first take an oath before the grand jury that he or she will keep secret all matters before such grand jury within his or her knowledge. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD13772-01-4