New York State Bar Association Calls for Public Disclosure of Law Enforcement Disciplinary Records

By Christian Nolan

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The New York State Bar Association’s (NYSBA) Executive Committee today approved repealing Civil Rights Law 50-a to allow for the public disclosure of law enforcement personnel disciplinary records.

“Disclosing all records pertaining to police misconduct and discipline will help stem the tide of repeated and senseless incidents of police brutality that are all too frequently aimed at people of color and remain a scourge on our nation,” said NYSBA President Scott M. Karson. “We urge both the governor and the Legislature to continue the momentum to pass sweeping reforms that will bring about meaningful systemic changes that eliminate racial disparities in our criminal justice system.”

In response to the death of George Floyd, New York lawmakers are considering various police reforms this week including the repeal of Civil Rights Law 50-a, which allows police departments to withhold public disclosure of disciplinary records. Both the Assembly and Senate have expressed strong support for the measure and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he also supports repeal of 50-a.

The proposed legislation, A.10611/S.8496, would allow for the release of the following:

  • the complaints, allegations, and charges
  • the name of the employee complained of or charged
  • the transcript of any disciplinary trial or hearing, including any exhibits introduced at such trial or hearing
  • the disposition of any disciplinary proceeding
  • the final written opinion or memorandum supporting the disposition and discipline imposed

The legislation would protect the personal information of law enforcement personnel, allowing home addresses and medical records to be redacted from released documents.

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, NYSBA 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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