New York’s elected district attorneys are at war with the governor and legislature over a new, first-in-the-nation, State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct, N.Y. Jud. § Ch. 30, art. 15-a, charged with reviewing claims that those charged with enforcing the law in a court of law might, themselves, be acting unlawfully. The District Attorneys Association of New York has sued to declare the Commission unconstitutional. See Complaint for Soares v. New York, No. 906409-18 (Sup. Ct. Albany Cty. Oct. 17, 2018).

The Commission will hopefully survive judicial scrutiny to provide a much-needed forum for much-needed oversight of the awesome and virtually unchecked powers of our prosecutors to charge and incarcerate New Yorkers, but it will still be crippled by the inadequacy of New York’s underlying disciplinary code for prosecutors. A forum for grievances is only as useful as are the rules and norms it enforces, and those governing the ethical obligations of our district attorneys are seriously wanting.