DA Swanson Questions Legality Of Newly Signed Conduct Law

CORRECTION: Swanson is the second Chautauqua County DA to be selected to the Board of Directors of the District Attorney’s Association of New York, not the second Chautauqua County DA to be a member of the association, as previously stated.
Swanson provided the following quote additionally to WNYNewsNow: “The independence of the prosecutor is part of the foundation of the criminal justice system.  This commission alters that principle in many ways.  Investigating wrongdoing should be able to be done without the dark cloud of a retaliatory complaint to this commission.  There is a functioning attorney grievance process in place.  This commission will cost the NY taxpayer upwards of $6 million a year.”
MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson said Tuesday that there are issues with the practicality and constitutionality of legislation signed Monday by Governor Andrew Cuomo, which established the nation’s first State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct.
“I am deeply concerned that the Governor has chosen to sign into law legislation creating a Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct,” Swanson said. “Analysis of the legislation reveals numerous constitutional issues and it is plagued by many practical flaws. I will join with my colleagues in the District Attorney’s Association of New York to vigorously support coming litigation made necessary to rectify this ill-advised legislation.”
The Commission, according to Cuomo’s office, will review and investigate prosecutorial conduct to address allegations of misconduct which lead to situations like malicious prosecutions and wrongful convictions, frequently impacting people of color and marginalized communities.

“Our criminal justice system must fairly convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent,” Cuomo said. “When any prosecutor consciously disregards that fundamental duty, communities suffer and lose faith in the system, and they must have a forum to be heard and seek justice. This first-in-the-nation Commission will serve to give New Yorkers comfort that there is a system of checks and balances in the criminal justice system, and to root out any potential abuses of power to ensure that our justice system is just for all New Yorkers.”
Swanson recently became only the second Chautauqua County District Attorney to join the District Attorney Association of the State of New York (DAASNY).
DAASNY President and Albany County District Attorney David Sores concurred with Swanson, even going as far to say that the legislation violates the separation of powers.
“It is unfathomable that lawmakers would author and pass a bill that has numerous constitutional flaws and violates the separation of powers. It is outrageous that the Governor would sign such a bill,” said DAASNY President Albany County District Attorney David Soares.
“Sadly, today the Governor, who previously served as the Attorney General of the State, after requesting and receiving an opinion from the current Attorney General that stated that the legislation is flagrantly unconstitutional, chose to ignore all of these concerns and signed the bill into law. Everyday, in courtrooms all over the state, prosecutors adhere to their oaths and defend our constitution. As a result of today’s events, DAASNY has little choice but to defend the constitution in court yet again by mounting a vigorous challenge to the enactment of this misguided legislation.”
DAASNY said they’ve already begun the process of preparing for litigation, and will file a motion for declaratory judgment to determine the constitutionality of the bill.