NYC City Councilwoman Christine Quinn got a lot of justified flak on the Twitters for saying that alleged looters should be held without bail until Sandy’s effects have subsided. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent suspension of certain provisions of New York State law has gotten less scrutiny. Which is unfortunate: as a Legal Aid attorney explained to me, it’s resulted in people being held with bail!
This is the paragraph in Cuomo’s suspension that’s causing all the trouble.
In addition, I hereby temporarily suspend and modify, for the period from the date of this Executive Order until further notice, any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule or regulation or part thereof, establishing limitations of time for the filing or service of any legal action, notice or other process or proceeding that the courts lack authority to extend through the exercise of discretion, where any limitation of time concludes during the period commencing from the date that the disaster emergency was declared pursuant to Executive Order 47, issued on October 26, 2012, until further notice.
Ordinarily, my informant tells me, Sections 170.70 and 180.80 of the Criminal Procedure Laws establish a defendant’s right to a quick release—which, at five to six days, really ain’t so quick—if bail is set due to lack of probable cause. But judges are interpreting Cuomo’s broad-stroke language here to claim that it suspends those sections. Legal Aid lawyers are insisting that it does not. But as this attorney says, “By the time it’s settled, it’ll all be moot.”
I was originally going to post this as a comparison with how the City was handling the Marathon: while officials seemed to think it a sacrilege to postpone the race, they have no problem postponing people’s rights. Luckily the City came to its senses about the Marathon. About this? Don’t count on it. Unless it’s moot.