MEMORANDUM IN OPPOSITION
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An ACT to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to exculpatory material.
On behalf of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, we write to oppose Senate bill S 7893, which would amend the Criminal Procedure Law, in relation to exculpatory material, and urge that it not be enacted by the Legislature.
This proposal significantly expands a prosecutor’s discovery obligations to the point where witness safety is put at risk and the prosecutor is, in essence, required to do the work of the defense. The obligations placed on the prosecution are so demanding that little other work could be accomplished. Failure to meet the onerous demands of the statute can result in disciplinary action against the prosecution, suppression of evidence or reversal of convictions, with no similar standards imposed on the defense. New costly and lengthy court proceedings are mandated by the statute.
The definition of exculpatory material is expanded far beyond any commonsense meaning of the term, to include, for example, any information that would assist the defense attorney in moving to suppress physical evidence of guilt. The sanctions are likely to lead to the dismissal of cases for failure to deliver innocuous or duplicative material. The proposed time frame for disclosure of much of the information within 28 days of filing of an initial accusatory instrument will inevitably encourage attempts to tamper with witnesses, particularly in those cases in which the careful prosecutor wishes to complete an investigation before a grand jury presentation.
Since this bill would create a great burden on the prosecution, thereby altering the outcome of a case in favor of the accused, we strongly urge that it not be enacted into law.
New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, Inc.