Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed off on legislation to create a 11-member special commission tasked with investigating unethical conduct by prosecutors, with the goal of holding them accountable if they intentionally interfere with or manipulate cases.
The Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct will look to fill the oversight vacuum long decried by criminal justice reform advocates. Prosecutors are protected by law from civil suits aimed at any actions conducted as a part of their job and are largely self-regulated, though the New York governor does retain the power to remove a district attorney if they see fit. Members of the panel will be appointed by Cuomo, party leaders in the state Legislature, and Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, according to the New York Law Journal.
Unsurprisingly, as the New York Times highlighted today, New York prosecutors oppose the law. David Soares, the Albany County district attorney and president of the state’s district attorney’s association, told the Times he believes the commission “impermissibly intrudes on core law enforcement functions.”
The bill was initially introduced in the 2018 session and even made it to Cuomo’s desk in August, but following a legal challenge from the district attorney’s association in the fall, Cuomo and the state legislature decided in December to hold off on appointing the committee until various legislative amendments could be made.
The governor has said the committee is the first of its kind to be implemented in the United States, per the Times. Naturally, the state prosecutors are already moving to have it all undone.