Lefty Criminal Justice Groups Oppose Last-Minute Push to Update New York’s Evidence Rules

Lefty Criminal Justice Groups Oppose Last-Minute Push to Update New York’s Evidence Rules

Lefty criminal justice groups, including the New York Legal Aid Society, are strongly opposing a last-minute push by powerful Democrats in Albany to update New York’s evidence rules. The proposed legislation comes in response to the recent overturning of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s conviction by the Court of Appeals. However, these groups argue that the bill is a “reflexive and dangerous approach” that could disproportionately harm marginalized communities.

The legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Deputy Senate Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, aims to close a loophole by allowing judges to admit testimony about a person’s alleged prior sexual offenses, even if they are not being charged for those acts. In Weinstein’s case, prosecutors included testimony from three other women who detailed their experiences of non-consensual sex with him, in an effort to establish a pattern of behavior.

Opponents of the bill, such as the New York Legal Aid Society, contend that the existing laws in New York were correctly interpreted by the high court. They argue that implementing the new statute would grant prosecutors excessive leeway to introduce potentially prejudicial testimony, thereby undermining the fundamental protection against wrongful convictions and unjust incarceration.

State Sen. Julia Salazar, who has publicly shared her experience as a sexual assault survivor, opposes the bill due to concerns about increasing the risk of wrongful convictions. She believes that the current statute is appropriate and expresses confidence that Weinstein will be convicted in his retrial.

Michael Gianaris, the bill’s sponsor, acknowledges the concerns raised by Legal Aid but maintains that sex offenses present unique challenges, often relying on one person’s word against another. He argues that the federal rule, which the proposed statute closely mirrors, justifies the need for a specific rule in New York.

Author: CrimeDoor

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