Doing greater harm by trying to do good?

I note that New York’s new discovery reform laws, which take effect on Wednesday, contain a double-edged provision that might threaten victims of crime.

Have you ever made a call to 911 to report a crime?

Next year if you do, your contact information will end up in the hands of the suspect police arrest.

It’s a new reality of New York’s discovery reform laws taking effect just 12 days from now on January 1st.

. . .

Albany County District Attorney David Soares is dreading the conversations he knows we will have to have with crime victims.

“By the way, I have to provide your cell phone number to his lawyer in a few weeks. I don’t know how I’m going to have these conversations with a victim,” Soares said.

. . .

Come January 1st, 2020, he says state law will mandate prosecutors hand over the contact information of victims and witnesses to criminal defendants within 15 days of arraignment. Even if the witness wants to remain anonymous or gives false information to protect their identity, Soares says he will have to reveal the tipster’s identity.

“There are people who call 911, report a crime and hang up the phone. In two weeks, I have to turn over your real information,” Soares said.

There’s more at the link.

I can see legitimate reasons for this provision in the law.  If you’ve been reported by a nosy neighbor who calls in reports on anyone she can see from her bedroom window;  if you’ve been the victim of someone who’s making false reports about you in the hope that you’ll be “swatted”;  if you’ve broken up with a former partner who’s now out for revenge;  all these and other circumstances might be good reason for you to know who’s reported you.  They may help to cut short a number of criminal prosecutions before they start.

On the other hand, what if you’ve been raped, and reported the crime to the police, and they caught the rapist?  He may have known you only as “that woman in the park”.  Now he’ll also know your name and address.  What’s the betting that he might have his buddies show up and threaten you (or worse) in an attempt to get you to withdraw the charge?  What if you reported an act of dangerous driving by a motorcyclist, and his buddies in the biker gang are now after you to take revenge for your “disrespect”?

I don’t think they thought this law through sufficiently . . .



  1. This should be done on a case-by-case basis. A law is not required. As you point out, it is likely to cause more harm than good.

  2. There used to be a criminal lawyer in Newark, NJ who specialized in getting his defendants acquitted by having the witnesses murdered. They busted him after they found a copy of the supposedly sealed case files at the home of the killer-for-hire.

    He used to have flyers posted all over town with pictures, names, and addresses of witnesses, "Wanted DEAD – Reward". He paid kids a few cents each to staple or tape them to phone poles.

  3. The law is, regrettably, a reaction to far too many prosecutors not turning over evidence that they should have. The answer, which Lefty New York won’t want to implement, is to loosen gun control laws to the point that the rapist has to think “Gee, now I know who she is and where she lives. But she probably owns a gun now, and has reason to want to kill me. Maybe I’d best stay away from her.”

  4. What has been left out is that in New York, new no-bail laws are going into effect that will put most criminals who are charged back on the streets in less than 24 hours. Add giving this individual or his representative your personal information and you have a formula for vendettas and dropped charges.

    Ultimately, what will result is the same rampant crime that goes on in NYC all over the state. In NYC people walked by a man being beaten to death for a dollar without helping or calling 911. They did not want to get involved. Now, this will be an epidemic across the state as just by calling 911 to report a crime you potentially become a victim yourself at the hands of the criminal you observed. This is danger to witnesses and will undermine the court system in NY.

    We can thank Ayatollah CUOMO and his Politburo democrat allies in the state legislature in Albany for all of this. They are the architects of the destruction of a civil society in the entire state. The democrats had destroyed NYC years ago now they are finishing the job through the rest of the state.

  5. New York, the city that tries to protect criminals from their actions, not its citizens from the actions of criminals.

    How Democrat.

  6. Despite the name, I think the real reason for the law is to lower crime rates by discouraging reporting of crimes.
    Since nothing else they have done has lowered crime (indeed, much of it seems intended to raise it instead), they are going to hide the crimes instead. Imagine this from an office when reporting a crime "if you report this, we have to give your personal information to the alleged perpetrator. That might not be good for you. Are you sure you still want to report it?"

  7. I predict, 10-1, that this only pertains to criminals committing crimes that are either not related to politicians or on cases where the victim is one of the leftist protected class.

    Conservative victim – publish.

    Conservative informant – publish.

    Criminal is protected leftist – no publish

    Leftist informant on leftist criminal – no publish.

    The amount of antics to hide leftists will out-exceed what we've seen in the pseudo-impeachment process in Washington D.C.

    Mark my words… This is an open-season hunting license on any conservative victim, informant, participant, interviewee, random passer-by…

  8. Brilliant. And they even left a fig leaf in the form of a possibility for the prosecutor to "request an order of protection" for witnesses who fear that their rapist (for example) might murder them once they've learned their name and address, as soon as the rapist gets released because bail isn't allowed anymore. Of course there's no guarantee that the judge will see the request before the discovery information is released, nor any guarantee that the judge will even grant the request once he has seen it, but that's not really important.

    What matters is that the possibility exists, and therefore can be used to dismiss questions about whether this discovery reform endangers witnesses and victims of crimes as "fearmongering" and fake news, etc.

    Yep. Brilliant. /S

    Well, I guess New Yorkers got the government they voted for.

    As a side note: I usually would support at least some measure of discovery reform, because our system only works when the defense is given access to the evidence that the prosection has. That's why "discovery" is even a thing. But this just strikes me as nuts. New York (state and city) has disarmed many of its law abiding citizens, while the criminal class retains easy access to guns. At the same time, they're ensuring that at least some percentage of witnesses to, and victims of, crimes are going to have a desperate need to defend themselves.

    Texas has (to the left, at least) surprisingly open discovery rules; but Texans also have a universally recognized ability and right to defend themselves by any means necessary, including lots of very hot lead, moving very fast. The only people who ignore that reality are gangs and cartels, in other words, people who would get access to witness information regardless of what the laws about discovery were.

    What works in a (relatively) free state will not work in a (inconsistent and mostly only effective against non-criminals) police state like New York. Which is why the Justice system in New York is never going to work properly. Hurray for diverse, vibrant, low-trust societies with ultra dense residential zones!

  9. Spoof your cell phone with Cuomo's number as your caller ID. It isn't hard, heck spammers/telemarketers do it all the time.

  10. No such thing as "unintended results", when you are talking about Progressives. The results of this law will be everything they wish for.

    When in doubt, look at England's crime system, and you will see the pathway that they are following.

  11. CDH:

    I suspect that calls to 911, and police systems in general, can't be easily spoofed like that. If they currently can, you can be sure that will change soon.

  12. Doesn't the constitution say that you have the right to face your accuser? Allowing anonymous accusations seems to be a violation of that.

  13. @Wardreamer: You can "face your accuser" in court without being told their name, or address, or anything that will allow you to retaliate against them. Under this new law, that option is no longer available.

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