Bill S751-2011

Permits at the discretion of the court certain members of the victim's family to read statements in court during the sentencing of a defendant

Permits at the discretion of the court certain members of the deceased victim's family to read statements in court during the sentencing of a defendant, rather than allowing only a single member of the victim's family to read a statement in court, upon consultation with counsel for the defendant and the people.

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  • Jan 4, 2012: REFERRED TO CODES
  • Jan 5, 2011: REFERRED TO CODES

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S751

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to permitting at the discretion of the court certain family members of a victim who is deceased to read statements in court during the sentencing of a defendant

PURPOSE: To correct (unintended) flaw in the statute that effectively prohibits any discretion of the judge to allow for more than one of the victims' family members to address the court.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: This bill amends subparagraph 2 of paragraph (a) of subdivision 2 of section 380.50 of the criminal procedure law, as separately amended by chapters 173 and 198 of the laws of 1996, to allow a presiding judge the discretion to allow statements on behalf of a victim by an immediate family member or up to two members, on consultation with counsels for the defense and the people.

JUSTIFICATION: When violent criminal acts kill or maim any person, friends and family are often victims due to the pain and trauma they must endure. In our civilized society, families of victims must exercise restraint and bear the pain of their loss while the wheels of justice turn and hopefully lead to the conviction of the perpetrator of the crime. For the murdered victims, surviving close relatives such as a spouse, mother, father, or children, can often find some closure at the end of the trail through use of the opportunity to address their loss to the court, and make a statement on behalf of the victim who can no longer speak for him/her(self). While current law provides this opportunity by allowing only "a member" of the victim's family to make a statement, it effectively restricts the judge's discretion. Current law prohibits the judge from considering the appropriateness of more than one member addressing the court, even if the victim is survived by close relatives, such as a spouse and parents.

Certainly, good public policy would deem it appropriate to leave it to the discretion of the judge to determine if both the spouse and a parent should speak. The judge should not be forced to choose between the wife and mother of a victim as it occurred in the recent case of police officer Anthony Sanchez.

This bill, if enacted, will correct the apparently unintended restriction, and give the discretion to the court where it appropriately belongs.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2009-2010: S.3408/A.3525 - Referred to Codes 2007-2008: S.389/A.3973 - Passed Senate 2006: S.6276/A.3803 - Passed Senate 2005: S.6276/A.3803 - Referred to Codes 2003-2004: A.5073-A - Referred to Codes

2001: A.6193/S.3375-A - Passed Senate 2002: A.6193/S.3375-A - Referred to Codes

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: No known fiscal impact.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 751 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 5, 2011 ___________
Introduced by Sens. YOUNG, BONACIC, DeFRANCISCO, JOHNSON, MAZIARZ, RANZENHOFER -- 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 permitting at the discretion of the court certain family members of a victim who is deceased to read statements in court during the sentencing of a defendant THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subparagraph 2 of paragraph (a) of subdivision 2 of section 380.50 of the criminal procedure law, as separately amended by chapters 173 and 198 of the laws of 1996, is amended to read as follows: (2) if such victim is unable or unwilling to express himself or herself before the court or a person so mentally or physically disabled as to make it impracticable to appear in court in person or the victim is deceased, a member of the family of such victim, EXCEPT THAT WHERE SUCH VICTIM IS DECEASED AND SURVIVED BY BOTH A SPOUSE AND A PARENT OR PARENTS, THE COURT IN ITS SOLE DISCRETION MAY ALLOW A SPOUSE OR PARENT OR, UPON CONSULTATION WITH COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENDANT AND THE PEOPLE, ALLOW BOTH TO MAKE A STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF SUCH VICTIM, or the legal guardian or representative of the legal guardian of the victim where such guardian or representative has personal knowledge of and a relationship with the victim, unless the court finds that it would be inappropriate for such person OR PERSONS to make a statement on behalf of the victim. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.

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