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New York State Senator Todd Kaminsky has introduced a bill in the new legislative session that would make lying to state prosecutors or investigators a felony. See S. 2371 (2019). In statements to the press, Kaminsky says such a bill is necessary to combat issues of proof in white-collar crime and public corruption cases and would be “a powerful tool for prosecutors.” See S. 2371 (Justification of Bill); see also “Lying to State Prosecutors Could Become Felony in NY Under Proposed Bill,” N.Y.L.J. (Feb. 15, 2019). The proposed law, which Kaminsky likens to the federal statute criminalizing lying in governmental matters, 18 U.S.C. §1001, is limited to white-collar cases, according to Kaminsky, because other offenses, and particularly violent ones, generally are supported by substantial physical evidence. Kaminsky considers the proposed law—which has several Democratic cosponsors from the Senate but none so far from the Assembly—a component of the newly elected Democratic legislators’ criminal justice reform agenda.

Contrary to Kaminsky’s statements, the proposed bill is not needed to advance white-collar or public corruption prosecutions, nor is it limited in application to those cases. Perhaps most importantly, it provides too potent a tool to a state prosecutor and further shifts the already uneven balance of power toward the state. Simply put, the proposed law is a solution in search of a problem, and were it enacted, it would do substantially more harm than good.

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