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A02878 Summary:

COSPNSRKim, Taylor, Forrest, Burgos, Reyes, Hevesi, Fahy, O'Donnell, Mitaynes, Anderson, Mamdani, Jackson, Clark, Simon, Gonzalez-Rojas, Seawright, Carroll, Gallagher, Darling, Burdick, Cruz, Epstein, Hunter, Meeks, Weprin, Kelles, Rosenthal L, Otis, Cook, Dinowitz, Septimo, Gibbs, Dickens, Glick, Davila, Hyndman, Pretlow, Ramos, Tapia, Lunsford, Ardila, Simone, Raga, Shimsky, Alvarez, De Los Santos, Bores, Levenberg, Walker, Shrestha
Add §§440.00 & 440.11, amd §§440.10, 440.20, 440.30 & 450.10, rpld §450.10 sub 5, CP L; amd §216, Judy L
Relates to motions to vacate judgment; authorizes filing motions to vacate judgment for a conviction that was subsequently decriminalized; authorizes motions to vacate judgment to be filed at any time after entry of a judgment obtained at trial or by plea.
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A02878 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to motions to vacate judgment; and to repeal certain provisions of such law relating thereto   SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 adds sections 440.00 to the Criminal Procedure Law, which defines the term "applicant" as a person previously convicted of a crime who is applying for relief under this article. Section 1 also adds section 440.11 to the Criminal Procedure Law, which provides specific grounds for vacating a judgment due to decriminalization of the appli- cant's act that led to his or her conviction, or a change in a law applied in the process leading to the applicant's conviction that calls for retroactive application of the new legal standard. If a court grants a motion under this section, it must vacate the judgment on the merits, dismiss the accusatory instrument, seal the judgment, and take addi- tional appropriate action as needed. Section 2 amends multiple subdivisions of section 440.10 of the Criminal Procedure Law. Section 3 amends multiple subdivisions of section 440.20 of the Criminal Procedure Law. Section 4 amends multiple subdivisions of section 440.30 of the Criminal Procedure Law. Section 5 amends multiple subdivisions of section 450.10 of the Criminal Procedure Law. Section 6 repeals subdivision 5 of section 450.10 of the Criminal Proce- dure Law. Section 7 adds a new subdivision 7 in section 216 of the Judiciary Law, .which requires the chief administrator of the court to report annually on the number of post-conviction applications and motions filed annually in each county and appellate department• in the state and to post the aggregated data on the websites of the office of court administration and the division of criminal justice services. Section 8 creates a severability clause. Section 9 provides the effec- tive date.   JUSTIFICATION: New York State ranks third in the nation in numbers of wrongful convictions. Our state also has an extremely high rate of plea bargain- ing - 98 percent of felony cases in our state resolve by plea agree- ments, not trial. Yet people who plead guilty have the lowest rates of exonerations because there are so many structural barriers to exonera- tion after a guilty plea. This is partiCularly true in New York, where the Court of Appeals ruled in 2018 in People v. Tiger that people who plead guilty cannot challenge their convictions on the grounds of actual innocence unless they have DNA evidence to support their claim. This bill amends article 440 of the criminal procedure law, which governs post-judgment motions, to provide people previously convicted of crimes the opportunity for meaningful review to ensure redress for wrongful convictions, including in cases where the person pled guilty. For decades New Yorkers have felt the pressure to plead guilty, even to crimes they did not commit, because bail was set in their case in amounts they could not afford or because the pre-trial process lasted so long that after waiting months or years for the case to resolve they could wait no longer. Under the state's previous criminal discovery law, the now-repealed criminal procedure law article 240, people were not entitled to see the basic evidence in their case, including witness statements and police reports, until trial began. Countless number of people pled guilty because of the pressure to plead even in cases where the evidence may not have supported a guilty plea or they were, in fact, innocent. Significantly, this bill increases protections for people who are actu- ally innocent, including ensuring that they are permitted under law to submit various types of evidence of their innocence to the court and requiring courts to order hearings in those cases with colorable claims of actual innocence. Post-conviction review of claims will be permitted in cases that went to trial or whose case resolved in a plea. The bill also removes proCedural bars for people to challenge convictions based on false or faulty evidence. In, short, if there is evidence of a person's innocence, courts will now have a legal mechanism to review the case and vacate the conviction where appropriate. In 2019 the New York State legislature took bold steps to reform our criminal discovery, bail and speedy trial laws to ensure more fairness in the pretrial process and right decades of injustice. But hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers obtained criminal records in the years prior to that reform as a result of the unfair, illegal, unconstitutional and coercive processes that blighted our criminal punishment system. Most of these people are low-income people of color. The bill thus extends new due process protections to applicants for post-conviction relief, including the right to access complete discovery of both the prosecution and defense counsel files and access to, including re-testing of, phys- ical evidence. The reform also allows applicants for post-conviction relief to request defense counsel and requires the court.to appoint .counsel in cases where the person requesting relief requests counsel, is indigent, or would otherwise qualify for free representation at the trial-level. The bill also expands protections for people exposed to significant collateral consequences from their convictions. The bill brings New York law in line with five other states and the District of Columbia that have mechanisms for people to clear old convictions for crimes that have subsequently been decriminalized. For example, in 2019, the New York State legislature decriminalized the possession of so-called gravity knives, which were in most cases utility knives that people legally purchased at stores like Home Depot. Thou- sands of people were arrested and prosecuted for.the possession of these tools under a law that federal courts found to be unconstitutionally vague. This bill provides a remedy for people convicted under laws that are subsequently decriminalized or found to be unconstitutional.to peti- tion to vacate the conviction. Finally, throughout the bill, the term defendant is replaced with appli- cant. This is.an effort to humanize the people seeking redress under criminal procedure law article 440. For more details on the importance of. using people-first language, visit. http://ptisonstudiesproject.org/language/. New York State must act to right past wrongs and allow people wrongfully or improperly convicted in previous decades to clear their names and their records. This requires a fundamental overhaul of our state's post- judgment motion law, article 440 of the criminal procedure law.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2021 - 2022: A98-A Passed AsseMbly 2019 - 2020: A3157 Referred to Codes   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined.   EFFECTIVE DATE: The sixtieth day after it shall have become a law.
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