Putnam DA pushes for moratorium on Discovery Law

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Putnam County District Attorney Robert Tendy says his workload has increased exponentially since the reform of New York State's Discovery Law took effect Jan. 1.

District Attorney Tendy is sounding off on reform legislation that requires law enforcement agencies to give every piece of evidence to defense teams within 15 days of their arraignment. Tendy fears what could happen when agencies start missing deadlines.

"There's going to be evidence that's going to be suppressed, cases may be dismissed...And those smaller cases are going to suffer. Anybody in this business knows, when small crime blows up, big crime happens," he says.

Tendy says that Putnam County has been obligated to release at least three jailed suspects under the new law.

The suspects qualified for release because their charges were considered non-violent. One of the suspects was arrested for leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

Tendy is pushing for a moratorium on the law.

Many agencies worry about overtime costs because of the extra clerical work required, but in a News 12 exclusive, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul insists agencies are saving money now.

"By not having so many people incarcerated, the counties will see costs reduced dramatically but... non-violent offense," she says.

Richard Willstatter, a criminal defense lawyer, says the new law needs time to play out because it evens the playing field.

"The new law will provide information to the defense so that defendants will be able to make a reasonable decision with what to do with their case. Either plead guilty or go to trial and will make the system, in fact, more just and more efficient," says Willstatter.

Tendy says he is hopeful that lawmakers will realize that the law needs some change.


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