Attorney General Candidate Tish James today unveiled a platform of major criminal justice reforms. Tish James will push to expand and codify the Attorney General’s role as special prosecutor to serve, not just in cases ending in death of civilians, but cases in which civilians are injured, or have been victims of sexual assault or hate crimes by police.
Tish James will also push for the repeal of 50-a, and push for state funding for body cameras. She will also require that the Office of the Attorney General act under open discovery laws, while pushing to create more open discovery laws statewide. Finally, she is calling on the Governor to immediately sign legislation creating a prosecutorial misconduct commission (S. 2412-D/A. 5285-C).
The full platform, “Reforming the Criminal Justice System: Police and Prosecutorial Accountability,” can be viewed here.
“When too many feel the scales of justice are tilted against them, we must change the system. As the State’s top law enforcement official, I will bring accountability and transparency to outdated systems in dire need of reform,” said Attorney General Candidate Tish James.
Highlights from “Reforming the Criminal Justice System: Police and Prosecutorial Accountability”
As Attorney General, Tish James will expand and codify the Attorney General’s role as special prosecutor; champion legislation to create a commission to hold prosecutors accountable; push to end unnecessary and harmful police secrecy; lead the way on real criminal discovery reform; and push to bring body-worn cameras statewide.
As Attorney General, Tish James will:
Push to Expand and Codify the Attorney General’s Role as Special Prosecutor. As Attorney General, Tish James will call on the legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, legislation making permanent the Attorney General’s role as special prosecutor. She will call for this legislation to broaden the special prosecutorial authority to cases including those in which civilians are injured in interactions with police officers, and in which police officers allegedly commit hate crimes or sexual assault. She will also seek authority to prosecute any individual who obstructs an investigation into misconduct that is subject to the law, or takes another illegal action to thwart justice. And, until such time as that law is passed, she will call on the Governor to do everything in his power to ensure that the current Attorney General and the next Attorney General can carry out their duties to the fullest.
Hold Unscrupulous Prosecutors Accountable. S. 2412-D/A. 5285-C would create a Commission with the power to provide real accountability when prosecutors engage in misconduct. Tish James calls for the Governor to immediately sign this bill into law. As Attorney General, Tish James is prepared to defend the law’s constitutionality and will work to find additional mechanisms to ensure that those prosecutors who engage in genuine malfeasance are held accountable.
Work to repeal 50-a. Few other states in the nation guard basic facts and essential information about law enforcement conduct as closely and zealously as New York. As Attorney General, Tish James will call on the New York State Assembly and Senate to repeal Civil Rights Law 50-a, which makes it nearly impossible for litigants and the public to access information about police disciplinary records. She will also work to create a legislative requirement for the public release of identifying information following an officer-involved shooting.
Lead the Way on Real Criminal Discovery Reform. New York State has the dubious distinction of being one a handful of states with a “blindfold law,” which allows prosecutors to withhold key evidence until the very eve of trial under the guise of preventing witness intimidation. As Attorney General, Tish James will not only use her bully pulpit to fight to create the strongest and most fair discovery laws in the nation, she will lead the way by requiring that the Office of the Attorney General act under those parameters with or without the passage of a new law.
Push to Bring Body Cameras Statewide. As Attorney General, Tish James will push for state funding to expand body cameras statewide. She will work with cities, counties and towns all across the state to institute best practices tailored to the specific needs of each jurisdiction.