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Barry Kamins in his office at the New York City Bar Association. Barry Kamins. Photo by Rick Kopstein

In the wake of an historic wave of protests, sparked by the death of George Floyd, New York became one of the first states to enact an expansive package of police reform bills. In addition, the New York City Council enacted a series of laws that will have a significant impact on members of the New York City Police Department.

Among the series of laws enacted by the Legislature, the centerpiece was the repeal of Civil Rights Law 50-a (CRL 50-a), which had shielded from public disclosure, certain police records containing disciplinary actions and misconduct complaints. The statute was enacted in 1976 to prevent what was then perceived as efforts by defense counsel to utilize information contained in police personnel records to cross-examine and impeach officers during trial in an overly aggressive and unfair manner. Cf. People v. Gisendanner, 48 N.Y.2d 543 (1979).

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