District Attorney Hoovler Comments on Criminal Justice Amendments
in Proposed State Budget Package
Suggests That Reforms be Grounded in Common Sense and Public Safety
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler on Wednesday, February 13, 2019, commented on the criminal justice amendments contained in Governor Cuomo’s 2019 budget package. Proposals before the State Legislature include, among other things, amendments to the law regarding discovery, bail, and asset forfeiture. District Attorney Hoovler urged lawmakers to proceed carefully and deliberately, so that any amendments do not adversely impact public safety.
Highlights of the Governor’s proposals and District Attorney Hoovler’s concerns include:
Discovery: The proposed amendments would require prosecutors to release the name, address, and grand jury testimony of witnesses within fifteen days of the defendant’s first appearance in court. Those proposed amendments, therefore, raise significant issues regarding the threatening or attacking of civilian witnesses.
Bail: The proposed amendments would automatically release from custody many people charged with serious offenses, and many people who have long histories of failing to return to court. Courts would be required to release from custody those charged with many crimes involving sexual violence, assault, domestic violence, serious drug selling and possession offenses, weapons offenses involving minors, drunk-driving assaults and homicides, and crimes against the elderly.
Asset Forfeiture: The proposed amendments would seriously jeopardize the ability of prosecutors to sue criminal defendants to forfeit assets that are the defendants’ ill-gotten gains from criminal activity. The result, among others, would be a reduction in the ability of prosecutors to recover and hold funds stolen from innocent victims.
“It’s no secret that I’m in favor of improving the criminal justice system,” said District Attorney Hoovler, “and since before I took office I and my staff have been developing and supporting programs designed to do exactly that. So I firmly believe that there’s nothing wrong with reform, as long as that reform is fully thought out and sensible and promotes public safety. The criminal justice proposals pending in Albany are ‘reforms’ only to the extent that they would improve the lives of criminals, while they would make the lives of the public more dangerous and reduce the ability of prosecutors to protect our law-abiding citizens. I urge everyone to contact their state legislators to ask them to reject the current proposals, in favor of sensible reforms that don’t risk the lives of the public, but do protect the rights of those charged with crime.”