New York State Bar Association President David P. Miranda today applauded the state Senate for passing an historic wrongful conviction bill, and urged the Assembly to do the same before leaving Albany this week.
“Wrongful convictions take a tremendous toll on our society,” Miranda said. “Innocent people lose their liberty. Our communities are less safe because the guilty are left free to commit more crimes.”
“In addition, victims are further traumatized by being forced to relive their ordeals. Taxpayers pay millions of dollars to compensate the wrongfully convicted when they are released from prison. In effect, we are all touched by wrongful convictions,” he added.
The bill, passed by the Senate, stems from a three-way agreement reached by the State Bar Association, Frank A. Sedita III, Erie County District Attorney and president of the District Attorneys Association of New York, and Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project on June 1. Discussions among the organizations were initiated by former State Bar President Glenn Lau-Kee.
The bill (S.5875-A and A.8157) would require the videotaping of custodial interrogations in some felonies and require blind or double-blind witness identification procedures.
“These procedures would address two of the root causes of wrongful conviction—false confessions and misidentification. They have played roles in many wrongful conviction cases,” Miranda said.
The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Senator Michael F. Nozzolio, R-Seneca County, chair of the Senate Codes Committee, and Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, D-Brooklyn, chair of the Assembly Codes Committee.
“These reforms will improve public trust and confidence in our criminal justice system,” Miranda said. “I respectfully ask the Assembly to pass the bill this week.”
The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
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