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NY Courts Faulted for Lax Approach to Misconduct

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The New York State court system has routinely failed to demand personal accountability for prosecutorial misconduct, argues attorney and journalist Rory Fleming in New York Focus. 

The New York State court system has routinely failed to demand personal accountability for prosecutorial misconduct, argues attorney and journalist Rory Fleming in New York Focus. Although former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to create a prosecutorial ethics commission in June, sources familiar with the court system characterize the discipline process for prosecutors accused of misconduct as weak, arguing that far-reaching changes are needed to improve prosecutorial culture. In an effort to create consequences for prosecutors found to have committed misconduct, a coalition of professors and public interest groups launched Accountability NY, which has filed bar complaints against 21 current and former Queens prosecutors since the beginning of the year. The group plans to expand to other New York City boroughs soon.

In New York, prosecutorial accountability is primarily conducted through the state bar’s “grievance committees” in each of the four appellate divisions of the New York Supreme Court. These committees take complaints from members of the community and investigate and determine whether discipline is warranted. But critics, like Brooklyn Law School professor Cynthia Godsoe, say the grievance committees are “feckless, largely because they are staffed by former prosecutors reluctant to punish their own,” Fleming writes. In 2019, the most recent year the New York State Bar Association has published data on bar complaints, no prosecutors appeared to have been disciplined for on-the-job misconduct.

Source: The Crime Report https://thecrimereport.org/2021/09/02/ny-courts-faulted-for-lax-approach-to-misconduct/

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