District Attorney’s Association Sues Cuomo Over New Law

By Victoria Merlino

 Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted before signing a bill seeking more oversight over prosecutors that the law was in some ways flawed. Photo by Pat Arnow.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted before signing a bill seeking more oversight over prosecutors that the law was in some ways flawed. Photo by Pat Arnow.

An executive Queens prosecutor teamed up with the District Attorney's Association of the State of New York (DAASNY) to file a supreme court lawsuit in the state’s capital to challenge a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The law, which would create a Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct that would review prosecutors’ conduct, passed the New York State Assembly and Senate in June and was signed by Cuomo in August.

"This legislation has numerous constitutional impediments and would violate the separation of powers,” said David Soares, President of DAASNY and Albany County District Attorney who is a plaintiff along with Robert Masters of the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.

DAASNY argues that the legislation interferes with the work of district attorneys through the oversight of a commission.

“DAASNY is committed to upholding our Constitution and therefore we have no choice but to file this lawsuit. Prosecutors take an oath to defend the Constitution and every day in courtrooms all over the state we do just that. It is because of that oath that we are pursuing this litigation,” said Soares in a statement released on Wednesday.

The organization also argues that it violates separation-of-powers principles, interferes with the Appellate Division’s jurisdiction over attorney discipline and gives prosecutors disciplinary standards without any governing standards.

The state’s attorney general as well as Cuomo have already acknowledged the bill’s alleged constitutional flaws before signing it into law, including the fact that the commission would make it easier to disrupt ongoing cases; as a prosecutor would have to make all files sent to the commission public even when it is an active investigation.

The attorney general’s office stated that the law “suffers from numerous constitutional defects that would likely leave a court to invalidate it and thus prevent it from serving its intended purpose.”

DAASNY will be represented in the case by Jim Walden, an experienced constitutional litigator that has previously sued the Cuomo administration over the manipulation of voter-counting and the illegal closure of a Long Island College Hospital.