A state law requiring law enforcement agencies to video record custodial interrogations with individuals accused of serious crimes, long championed by the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) and included in the enacted fiscal year 2017-18 state budget, went into effect earlier this month.
“This measure supports fundamental fairness and justice for all New Yorkers by helping both to prevent unjustified prosecutions or wrongful convictions and to secure convictions of those who have committed crimes,” said NYSBA President Sharon Stern Gerstman.
“The State Bar Association’s House of Delegates approved a resolution calling for legislation on this issue in 2004, and then we spent years working with legislators, district attorneys, advocates and the executive to make it a reality,” said NYSBA President-Elect Michael Miller, who was president of the New York County Lawyers Association at the time and introduced the resolution.
Law enforcement investigators are required as of April 1 to video record interrogations of individuals accused of most serious non-drug felonies. The requirement applies only to custodial interrogations at police stations, correctional facilities, prosecutor’s offices, and similar holding areas. Under the new law, failure to record interrogations in applicable cases could result in a court determining that a confession is inadmissible.
Following the 2004 approval of the resolution by NYSBA’s House of Delegates, legislation to require recording of interrogations was drafted by the Association.
In 2006, through the efforts of Assembly Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol, NYSBA received the first of $200,000 in state grants, which was used to purchase video equipment for the offices of several district attorneys around the state.
In 2009, the Association’s Task Force on Wrongful Convictions released a comprehensive report that examined all aspects of the issue, including the factors that can result in wrongful convictions. Link: www.nysba.org/wcreport
In 2015, NYSBA leadership joined with leaders of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, and Innocence Project Co-Founder Barry Scheck to announce that the three organizations had reached agreement on a bill to require the recording of custodial interrogations in certain serious crimes.
In 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proposed legislation to require video recording of custodial interrogation of suspects for serious offenses, and the measure was ultimately enacted as part of the state budget, effective April 1, 2018.
About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
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