Medina Village Board urges state to amend criminal justice reforms

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 February 2020 at 9:12 am

MEDINA — The Medina Village Board is urging the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to amend criminal justice reforms that started on Jan. 1.

The “drastic changes in the laws” are “overly broad and vague and having unintended consequences at the municipal level,” according to a resolution approved by the board on Monday evening.

The criminal justice reforms don’t allow judges to set bail in many cases where there used to be discretion for bail.

The state also overhauled the discovery process and now requires an expedited timeline to provide materials such as police reports, radio transmissions, body-worn and dash-cam video, laboratory test results and volumes of other materials and data related to prosecution. There is now a mandate to turn over voluminous trial-related material within 15 days.

The new laws were approved as part of the state budget last year, without public or law enforcement input.

The changes have put more demands on police departments, court systems and district attorney’s offices, forcing many of them to add staff to be in compliance with the laws.

The Medina board said the increased costs come without state aid during a time of a state-imposed tax cap of about 2 percent.

The Medina board said prosecutors and courts are being consumed by the demands for misdemeanor and felony cases, making it impossible to prosecute vehicle and traffic infractions within the timeframes of the new discovery mandates.

The Medina board asked for the following amendments proposed by the New York State Conference of Mayors, which still meet the intent of the criminal justice reforms:

• Ensure that cities and villages are provided with additional financial and operational support to offset the cost of the mandated measures;

• Allow 60 days for prosecutors to disclose evidence to the defense for criminal charges;

• Excuse from the accelerated discovery requirements any charge not involving a misdemeanor or felony;

• Adjust the 20-day arraignment requirement to accommodate local courts that meet on a monthly basis;

• Allow prosecutors to withhold sensitive information, such as victim contact information, without having to obtain a court order.

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