As January 1 Approaches, Questions About Implementation of Bail and Discovery Reforms Abound; Some Answers Are Available
Bench Book for Judges on Discovery Law Reform
With the impending January 1, 2020 discovery reform law, judges have a new resource to help them navigate the new procedures:
New York's Discovery Reform Law: A Bench Book for Judges
, prepared in July 2019 by Dineen Ann Riviezzo, Court of Claims Judge Kings County, Supreme Court Criminal Term. This will serve as a guide to the many facets of the reform such as the prosecutor’s discovery obligations, the defendant’s reciprocal discovery to prosecution, timing requirements, protective orders, and trial readiness. This guidebook provides defense attorneys with information on the new law, statutory citations, and an inside look at the information on which judges will rely.
A bench book on bail reform was noted in the
Oct. 18, 2019, edition
of News Picks.
NYSDA, Others, have been Offering CLE on the Reforms
Such training sessions, and materials developed for them, can help answer some of the questions arising as implementation nears. For more information, contact the Backup Center.
Supporters Resist Efforts by Prosecutors and Others to Erode Reforms
Defenders and many others who care about pretrial justice are working to counter calls by district attorneys and members of law enforcement for delay, repeal, or modification of the bail and discovery reforms passed by the Legislature this year. Letters, op-eds, and editorials stressing the fairness and practicality of the reforms are appearing across the state. Examples include guest columns in the
Staten Island Advance
Finger Lakes Times
, and the Wellsville
in the December 1 Middletown
; commentaries in the Rochester
Democrat and Chronicle
in the November 30
Livingston County News
; an article in
; and a
New York Times
on November 17. Perhaps most notably, Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued a strong
to criticism of the reforms, telling WGRZ.com on December 3, "'[c]hange is often opposed by the system'" and pointing out successful reform elsewhere. Meanwhile, some legislators are introducing bills to curtail the reforms, as noted in the
New York Law Journal
. Defenders who contribute or see local comments favoring the reforms are encouraged to send them to the Backup Center.
News on Addressing Domestic Violence
The San Antonio, TX, Public Defender's Office is working to get treatment for clients who are charged with domestic violence and are also experiencing mental illness, according to a Nov. 16, 2019
. The Chief Public Defender, noting that few of the "individuals arrested for domestic violence who have a co-occurring mental health issue were diverted into treatment," added: "'There is such a stigma about domestic violence and there’s such a concern for victim safety, which is a legitimate concern, but if someone is going to get out on bond, would you want them to get out on bond with mental health treatment or without?'"
Meanwhile, in New York City, questions are being raised about the effectiveness of programs meant to reduce domestic violence. The issue was addressed at City Council hearing, as reported in the Gotham Gazette on
Defenders may find themselves confronting domestic violence issues from different perspectives, sometimes defending those accused of committing such acts and sometimes defending domestic violence survivors who are accused of striking back at someone committing abuse or where the abuse was a significant contributing factor to the criminal behavior. As noted on pages 2 and 4 of the
Backup Center REPORT
mentioned below, domestic violence was addressed in a number of ways by legislation this year.
December CAL "Issues to Develop at Trial" Focuses on Rebuttal Summations
December 2019 issue
of the Center for Appellate Litigation (CAL) publication called
Issues to Develop at Trial
urges trial attorneys to argue for a chance to respond to the prosecution's summation, particularly when a prosecutor has raised new matters.
The newsletter also notes a Nov. 25, 2019 Court of Appeals decision,
People v Rouse
. CAL notes that the decision reaffirmed the defense right to cross-examine police officers with specific misconduct allegations and held that the defense may cross-examine on prior judicial determinations of an officer's dishonesty (such as a finding that the officer's testimony was incredible), subject to the limitations on cross.
August-October Issue of NYSDA's Backup Center REPORT is Online
of NYSDA’s Public Defense Backup Center REPORT is available on the NYSDA website. NYSDA members should receive a hard copy of this latest issue this month. If you have any questions, please contact the Backup Center at 518-465-3524.
New Staff Attorney Joins NYSDA's Backup Center
Natalie Brocklebank brings broad experience to her new position as a Staff Attorney at the Backup Center. She joins NYSDA after serving as Assistant Counsel on the Statewide Team of the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services working on the expansion of the
Hurrell-Harring reforms to all counties. Before that, she was an Attorney and Investigations Supervisor at the Bronx Defenders. Natalie began her legal career at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and subsequently was selected as a partnership lawyer on rotation to New Orleans, post Katrina. She has also run a private practice in New Orleans, LA and Saratoga County, NY, and has served as an Adjunct for SUNY Empire State College teaching Media Ethics and the Law. Prior to practicing law, Natalie was a defense investigator in Washington, DC.
Long Island VDP Office Welcomes New Case Manager
Juan Sosa has joined the Veterans Defense Program (VDP) staff in the Long Island office. Having been deployed to Iraq in 2002 and 2006, and having witnessed the struggles of veterans, he is committed to making a difference in clients' lives. Read more about Juan in the latest edition of the
Backup Center REPORT, noted above.
Executive Director Bryant Featured in
St. John's Law
Executive Director Susan C. Bryant is featured in the
Fall 2019 issue
of her alma mater's magazine, St. John's Law, at page 16. Headlined "Championing Equal Justice," the feature highlights the legislative criminal justice reforms of 2019 but also stresses NYSDA's efforts to improve public defense services in changing times and Bryant's enthusiasm about new lawyers moving into the field: "'It's an incredible time to be a public defender in New York,' she says…. 'At the end of the day, you know you're making a difference.'"