NY governor vetoes bill expanding chances to challenge convictions

NY governor vetoes bill expanding chances to challenge convictions

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) on Friday vetoed a bill that would have expanded opportunities for people with criminal convictions to challenge the judgments they received in their cases.

The bill was championed by Democrats in the state Legislature and fiercely opposed by Republicans. Many critics argued the bill would have overwhelmed the justice system and lead to numerous challenges by people who were actually guilty.

Hochul said the bill’s “sweeping expansion of eligibility for post-conviction relief” would “up-end the judicial system and create an unjustifiable risk of flooding the courts with frivolous claims,” Hochul wrote in her veto letter Saturday, per The Associated Press (AP).

Under New York state law, people who pleaded guilty to a crime are generally barred from challenging those convictions by claiming they’re innocent unless there is new DNA evidence. This bill would have allowed for more types of evidence, including evidence that the person was coerced into pleading guilty.

The District Attorney’s Association of the State of New York said in June, when the bill was first passed, that the bill would give a greater pathway to unwarranted appeals by people who are guilty.

“The bill would overwhelm the criminal justice system, at a time when the next straw might be the one that breaks its back,” the association said in a statement at the time. “It would be an entirely unnecessary ‘fix’ for something that is not broken.”

New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie (D), who sponsored the bill, said he is considering reintroducing the bill in the next legislative session to give innocent people a “fair chance to reverse a terrible wrong,” the AP reported.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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