S.2412-B, DeFrancisco / A.5285-A, Perry: In relation to establishing the Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct

Published on May 22nd, 2017

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would establish the Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct. This Commission would be modeled after the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and would establish acceptable standards and reasonable accountability for prosecutors as they carry out their duties and responsibilities.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the establishment of the State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

The bill is an attempt to provide a mechanism for ensuring a fair process for monitoring prosecutorial conduct. The Commission would consist of eleven members appointed by the Governor, Legislative Leaders and the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. It would further enhance a fair judicial process by establishing and enforcing clear prosecutorial standards. The Commission would be a check on excesses of prosecutorial discretion and protect the liberty interest of defendants.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct has successfully served to ensure that individual rights are not being violated by the judiciary and a similar entity needs to be put in place to ensure that prosecutors are exhibiting appropriate conduct. These Commissions serve to maintain a balance that can only serve to engender greater confidence in our criminal justice system and protect the integrity of that system.

The Catholic Conference has long advocated for reforms of the criminal justice system that protect the rights of the accused and the interest of those who have been victimized. This legislation is consistent with those efforts. It is in no one’s interest for individuals to be wrongly convicted or for guilty parties to not be held accountable as a result of inappropriate conduct on the part of prosecutors. Prosecutors have a duty to pursue justice and establishing standards in support of that goal benefits the legal system and society as a whole.

The proposed Commission will allow the public a forum for voicing concerns that does not currently exist and monitor appropriate standards of behavior across the state. An impartial arbiter can place checks on unfair practices and support prosecutors when no wrongdoing has occurred.

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