Sunday, March 07, 2010

New York State Assembly Passes Bill
Attacking Presumption of Innocence

DFNY calls on elected Albany representatives to uphold state laws,
challenges A3765 (Englebright) as direct violation of civil rights and misuse of public funds

The Dog Federation of New York expresses deep concern over the recent passage of Assemblyman Steven Englebright’s proposal to allow petitions for security bonds to be made by district attorneys on the public payroll when defendants are arraigned following allegations of cruelty to animals. Under existing state law, defendants unable to promptly post costly security bonds face immediate, permanent forfeiture of their animals to private impounding organizations before any action may be taken in their defense.

In direct contradiction to existing state law, A3765 authorizes district attorneys, charged with defending the interests of the people of the State of New York, to represent private, not for profit corporations (impounding organizations). Existing state law also prohibits district attorneys from acting in civil matters, such as the petitions for security bonds covered by Asy. Englebright’s bill.

“The members of the New York State Assembly have a duty to uphold the law, the Constitution of the State of New York and the U. S. Constitution, and to protect the civil rights of all its citizens. The presumption of innocence, regardless of the nature of allegations made against a defendant, is one of our most basic, most cherished values”, said Mahlon Goer, Dog Federation of New York spokesperson. “We’d like to see Assemblyman Englebright and the New York State legislature uphold the law. Defendants cannot be assessed high financial penalties or permanent loss of their animals—their personal property—before their trial even begins.”

Civil rights advocates also expressed concern that defendants relying on public defenders must appear in court without the benefit of legal counsel during security bond hearings. Public defenders cannot act in civil matters in New York.

Under Assemblyman Englebright’s A3765 defendants are required to cover the cost of maintaining valuable animals no longer in their custody, or permanently forfeit them to a private corporation. The private corporation is then free to either kill the animals or sell them off and retain the proceeds, in contradiction to New York State’s Criminal Procedure Law § 690.55 which clearly places the responsibility for maintaining seized property on publicly employed law enforcement personnel pending resolution of charges.

“We believe that all responsible owners of animals share a concern for the well being of pets and livestock, “ Goer continued. “Under the law, we are explicitly required to provide for their welfare and should be held accountable if we fail. However, our concerns cannot drive us to surrender the protection of our civil rights. We are innocent until proven guilty.”

S5479, the Senate companion bill to A3765 sponsored by Senator Jeffrey Klein, remains with the New York Senate Committee on Agriculture.

Help preserve civil rights in New York! Stop A3765 and S5479 !

You can make a difference!

DFNY prepared talking points and an analysis of A3765/S5479 and A9400/S3155 -- two other nearly identical proposals before the NYS legislature on pre-trial animal forfeiture provisions. The proposals are nearly identical in their negative impact on civil rights in New York.

For talking points an analysis of Senate proposals, click here.

For talking points and analysis of the remaining Assembly proposal, click here.

Please immediately telephone or email the Chair of the NYS Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Darrel Aubertine, and ask him to stand up for civil rights in New York by holding Senate bills S5479 and S3155 in committee. Phone calls are best!

In Watertown 315-782-3418
In Albany 518-455-2761
In Oswego 315-312-3106

Please also immediately telephone or email the Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Assemblyman Bill Magee, and ask him to stand up for civil rights in New York by holding Assembly bill A9400 in committee. Phone calls are best!

In Oneida 315-361-4125
In Albany 518-455-4807
In Oneonta 607-432-1484

Our concerns about the welfare of animals cannot drive us to surrender our hard fought civil rights! Ask Senator Aubertine and Assemblyman Magee to uphold the law!


Ellen said...

This is a double-edged sword like Capital Punishment. See this link and tell me whether this guy should be presumed innocent and allowed to have other cats after bonding out, and if we shouldn't make him pay for care for the cats that were rescued...
Cases of cruelty have been investigated prior to any animals being seized, so there must be very few innocents included in the numbers if any. Am I missing some other point?

The only New York organization dedicated to protecting the rights of caring dog owners said...

Yes, Ellen, you are missing a huge point. You don't see the elephant in the livingroom.

In the United States of America, we are innocent until proven guilty. "Investigations" are not proof of guilt. They are investigations. Only the judicial system, a judge and a jury, get to decide who is guilty in this country.

Think about it, and take a look at the federal court decision linked below in which a U. S. District Court judge in Louisville THREW OUT an ordinance nearly identical to existing NYS law because it violated the U. S. Constitution.

We don't punish people who have not been convicted of a crime in this country.