State lawmakers on Tuesday advanced measures meant to aid people who have been wrongfully convicted in court as well as measures meant to aid immigrant New Yorkers in the legal system.
The measures are being pushed at the end of the legislative session as New York lawmakers consider a potential package of criminal justice law changes in the coming weeks.
One bill, which advanced in the Assembly Codes Committee on Tuesday, would change how people who have been wrongfully convicted are able to return to court and clear their name based on evidence that was not available to them at trial.
The proposal is yet to be voted on by the full Assembly or state Senate.
“I’m happy to see the bill voted through this committee, but now we need the whole Assembly to pass it and the Senate to take action to pass the bill as well," said Roger Clark, an activist with VOCAL-NY. "Once the Legislature has passed the bill, we need the governor to sign it.”
Meanwhile, lawmakers on the Assembly Codes Committee also approved a measure that is meant to provide aid to immigrant New Yorkers in the legal system. The bill is meant to ensure immigrant New Yorkers facing criminal charges have access to immigration advice.
"So many New Yorkers have no idea that taking a plea in criminal court can cause them to lose their green cards or face deportation," said Jane Shim, a senior policy attorney at the Immigrant Defense Project. Even though New York law requires judges to notify immigrants of their right to legal advice, many judges give misleading or inaccurate notifications, or none at all. This bill protects immigrants' procedural rights and will prevent wrongful deportations. Having already passed the Senate, this bill should be brought to a vote immediately in the Assembly so the Governor can sign it into law."