Less than three years ago, the New York State Commission on Statewide Attorney Discipline, in its Final Report to Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, found that despite the many claims of rampant prosecutorial misconduct, which are allegedly ignored by the current attorney disciplinary procedures, there was no support for such a contention.
Only last year, the New York State Justice Task Force issued a report on attorney responsibility in criminal cases and, significantly, it concluded that the term “prosecutorial misconduct” is used too frequently and without regard as to its meaning. Moreover, the Justice Task Force concluded that a separate grievance body for prosecutors or criminal practitioners was unnecessary and instead recommended taking steps to ensure the effectiveness of the current grievance system.
Despite each of these findings, the legislature has elected to pass legislation that subjects prosecutors, alone among those who practice law, to a duplicative and intrusive process that is not only violative of the state constitution, but will surely cause delay to the progress of ongoing investigations and prosecutions, much to the detriment of all New Yorkers. Sadly, it will provide those who are the most guilty of the worst crimes, facing the longest sentences, an avenue by which they will be able to forestall their just and appropriate punishment and simultaneously deny the victims of those crimes and their families the closure that they deserve.
Regardless of this misguided legislation, I am confident that prosecutors will continue to follow their oaths and pursue justice for all, without fear or favor.
It is my hope that the governor, upon due consideration, exercises a veto of this ill-conceived proposal.
Richard A. Brown, District Attorney, Queens County