New York State Bar Association Releases 2022 Legislative Priorities
The New York State Bar Association today released its legislative priorities for the 2022 sessions in D.C. and Albany, covering a wide range of issues from crime prevention to legal aid for immigrants to policing reform and gender-based discrimination.
NYSBA believes the country is at a crisis point and reforms are desperately needed to rebuild trust in our police and the criminal justice system. The association supports creating a national registry to track officers with a history of disciplinary problems and bolster police accountability. Like an offender registry, officers who have been disciplined could be prevented from moving to new police departments. The association also believes those detained by police should not be restrained with chokeholds and that police should not be allowed to execute a warrant without knocking. The association supports federal funding for law enforcement to purchase more police body cameras.
NYSBA is also advocating for reforms to qualified immunity, which prevents police officers from being held liable when they perform their jobs reasonably. Currently, police officers cannot be held liable unless it can be proven that a transgression is “willful” or deliberate. NYSBA supports lowering that legal standard to “reckless,” meaning police can be held liable for behaving carelessly or showing a lack of concern for the consequences of their actions. NYSBA believes that making it easier to hold police officers who violate the public trust accountable is in the interest of justice.
To view the full report on racial injustice and police reform https://nysba.org/app/uploads/2021/06/Report-by-the-Task-Force-for-Racial-Injustice-and-Police-Reform-FINAL-with-HOD-wording-on-cover.pdf
NYSBA convened a task force to look at a wide range of issues related to gun violence and mass shootings in the U.S. The non-partisan report offered the following recommendations:
- Ban possession of ghost guns
- Enact universal background checks for all firearm sales
- Extend the time between a completed background check and final sale of a firearm
- Require gun licenses to purchase and possess all types of firearms
New York banned the possession of ghost guns last year. The association is now advocating for the federal government to do the same. The other firearm recommendations are being directed at the state Legislature and to Congress.
Pass and fully fund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Congress allowed the act to lapse in 2018 and did not renew it in 2019, which left many programs that combat gender-based violence unfunded. Congress should reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act to combat the crimes of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Gender Based Discrimination
New York became a national leader in this area of gender rights with the passage of the GENDA Act in 2019. NYSBA now urges members of Congress to pass HR 5, known as the Equality Act. Like New York’s GENDA, the federal law would expand protected categories to include sexual orientation and gender identity. HR 5 would also bar discrimination in employment, public schools, and housing. In addition, individuals could not be denied access to shared facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms that are in accordance with their gender identity.
Attorney Representation for Immigrants
Immigrants facing civil detention and deportation need attorneys to help them navigate the difficulties of immigration law. Without help from an attorney, these non-citizens are ill-equipped to handle the process, putting them at a severe disadvantage and making the likelihood of being deported higher. NYSBA supports enacting a statutory right to an appointed counsel for immigrants involved in the U.S. legal system.
For a full list of NYSBA priorities:
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.