NEW YORK: COURT RULES AGAINST SEX OFFENDERS (Victims’ identities may be withheld)

The New York State Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that police agencies do not have to release records that would reveal victim identities.  The decision could severely restrict the ability of sex offenders to obtain reviews of their convictions.  The case involves a conflict between two sensibilities: concern for the victims of sex crimes versus a remedy for possible wrongful convictions.  Kathryn Kase, immediate past president of the state Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said, I understand the concern that victims of sex crimes not be revictimized, but this ruling goes to the heart of our criminal justice system and the right to review wrongful convictions.   The court said the law's goal of protecting a victim's privacy cannot be negated by a litigant's assertion that he knows the identity of the victim.  Thus, the defendants must be treated like any member of the public asking for such records.  For its part, the Court of Appeals concluded that the police were wrong in issuing a blanket denial of police records without showing that each requested document contained identifying information.

(Albany, New York)