Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon Urges NYS Assembly, Governor Hochul to Reject So-Called “Wrongful Conviction” Legislation, Warns of Dire Consequences for New York’s Criminal Justice System and Victims of Crime if Enacted
Below is a statement from Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon regarding S. 7548/A. 2878, legislation to expand the ability to challenge past criminal convictions and guilty pleas:
“Our solemn duty as prosecutors is to uphold the laws of our state, and to apply all available facts and evidence to every single case that enters our office. We treat this obligation with the utmost seriousness because all involved in our criminal justice system deserve nothing less. Yet once again New Yorkers are confronted with legislation that if enacted, will fundamentally alter our criminal justice system without so much as a single public hearing or a shred of input from our court system or prosecutors, each woefully unprepared to bear this burden. Most importantly, the victims of crime have once again been completely ignored, and many will now face a reality where their decades old wounds will be reopened if a guilty defendant who victimized them or their family challenges their conviction. Albany’s legislative malpractice appears to have struck once again.
We urge the Assembly and Governor Hochul to reject this legislative push to open the floodgates for admitted and convicted criminals to have their cases reopened, begun anew, and ultimately have sentences overturned under the guise of fairness. It is frankly offensive and dangerous. If this reckless legislation is adopted, my already overburdened prosecutors and support staff will once again face an unfunded mandate from Albany to dig up thousands of decades-old case files and re-do countless hours of difficult, thoughtful, and fair work.
Our Conviction Integrity Review Unit, established for the first time on Staten Island under my leadership, already performs the important work of ensuring that no defendant is unjustly found guilty of a crime they did not commit, but this bill will undoubtedly shepherd an onslaught of claims, many likely without merit, that not only guilty verdicts but freely made guilty pleas should be thrown out altogether. This is not hyperbole, our so-called discovery reforms have provided all the evidence New Yorkers need to know that lawbreakers are getting away with their criminal behavior because Albany has created an environment that so deeply caters to criminals over law enforcement and victims of crime.”
Banner Image: Courthouse. Image Credit – Alex Vasey