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The Integrity in Prosecutions Act of 2015 

February 8, 2015

Governor’s Program Bill

2015

MEMORANDUM 

An Act to amend the Public Officers Law, with regard to the ability of certain individuals to run for elected office.

PURPOSE

This Act amends the Public Officers Law to prohibit those serving as appointed prosecutors from running for public office for a period of ten years after their service as a prosecutor concludes. This Act will help remove the specter that prosecutorial actions might be politically motivated and thereby ensure the integrity of such actions.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS

Section 1 is the short title of this Act, known as the Integrity in Prosecutions Act.

Section 2 sets forth legislative intent.

Section 3 amends Public Officers Law S3 to prohibit those serving as appointed prosecutors from running for elected office for a period of ten years after the conclusion of their term as prosecutors.

Section 4 sets forth the effective date.

EXISTING LAW

The New York State Constitution Article 3 S7 sets forth minimum requirements for individuals to run for public office. The main requirement is that an individual be a resident of the state for five years preceding an election.  Further requirements have been enacted pursuant to Public Officers Law S3. This includes additional residency requirements, as well as other conditions. Further, Election Law S6 sets forth numerous requirements regarding procedures by which an individual may run for office.

The Constitution, Public Officers Law and Election Law establish tradition and precedent for enacting reasonable restrictions on the ability of an individual to run for office.

STATEMENT IN SUPPORT

The goal of the Integrity in Prosecutions Act is to help ensure that prosecutorial decisions have no basis — real or perceived — in politics or any other personal consideration, and that prosecutorial decisions are, in fact, based solely on the law and that such decisions are clearly in the public interest.

This Act is necessitated by increasing prosecutorial review of elected officials and the political process itself.  These cases, while having the salutary effect of rooting out public corruption, have also raised questions about separation of powers, the potential of overreaching by prosecutors, and have also raised the specter that some prosecutorial decisions might be motivated in part by the personal political aspirations of the prosecutor.

To remove any such cloud, the Act prohibits a prosecutor from running for public office for a period of ten years after the conclusion of his service as a prosecutor.

This interval is deemed as an appropriate period to ensure the public that the individual serving as prosecutor has acted only in the interest of law enforcement without regard to the potential personal political benefits from bringing high profile cases that generate media exposure, public acclaim or other benefit.

It is not the intent of this Act, nor shall any aspect of this Act be construed as limiting or otherwise affecting the decision-making process of any prosecutor.

Further, nothing about this Act shall prevent or otherwise impede a former prosecutor from running for any public office after the ten-year period has expired.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS 

This bill will require no additional expenditure of state resources.

EFFECTIVE DATE

This bill takes effect on the 30th day after its enactment.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2015 9:22 PM

    How about including attorneys general. The same logic applies.

  2. Mark Keister permalink
    February 9, 2015 2:42 PM

    Bon Chance!

  3. Anonymous permalink
    February 13, 2015 11:33 PM

    Well, why stop there? Why not stop appointed prosecutors from seeking appointed judgeships, or seeking a job in private practice? Hell, why not just tie them up in the corner? This idea is pretty dumb, and probably unconstitutional under the state constitution. Case in point: the district attorney becomes a judge, or simply retires, and the governor appoints someone to be the interim DA until the next election. The only way for that person to become the permanent DA is by running for elected office – the office of district attorney? Would you make an exception for that, or should only 100% politicians become district attorney? If you’re trying to make a point about Bharara, fine – I agree that he shouldn’t make prosecutorial decisions in order to further his political career. But until you find some evidence that he has done that, you have no basis to single out appointed prosecutors as the only citizens who are not allowed to run for office for a decade.

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