New York Republicans Push for Constitutional Amendment Allowing District Attorney Recall Elections

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
June 10, 2022 Updated: June 10, 2022

Republican lawmakers in New York are pushing for a constitutional amendment that would establish a process through which electors can remove district attorneys from office if they are “soft on crime.”

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-Oswego), Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R-Lockport), Assemblyman Michael Tannousis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn), and Deputy Senate Republican Leader Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) introduced the constitutional amendment (S.9484) on June 9.

Under the proposed amendment, district attorneys will be “held accountable for their policies once they take office” and will be subject to recall campaigns if they lose the public’s trust by putting “criminal interests before law-abiding citizens.”

According to the proposed amendment, a recall could be initiated if a petition is delivered to the state Board of Elections which alleges the reason for the recall, and is signed by voters within the county equal to 20 percent of the last vote for the district attorney.

An election to determine whether to recall the district attorney would be held between 60 and 80 days from the date of certification of sufficient signatures by the state Board of Elections.

If the majority of voters opt to recall the district attorney, then they will be removed from their role and, if there are other candidates, the candidate who receives the most votes will become the successor.

The district attorney that has been recalled will not be able to list themselves as a candidate, according to the amendment.

Current law in New York states that the governor has the power to remove district attorneys from office if they fail to properly prosecute or perform their jobs and enforce the law.

GOP lawmakers said the proposed amendment would “put that power back in the hands of the people.”

In a statement, Ortt took aim at Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, who has been criticized for a number of his criminal policies which include ordering prosecutors to stop pursuing prison sentences for many criminal cases and downgrading charges for some crimes. Bragg later backtracked on parts of those policies.

“Any district attorney who fails to make crime victims their number one priority has no business serving the public,” Ortt said. “Their job is to enforce the law and prosecute those who break it. This disturbing trend of progressive, soft-on-crime district attorneys—including Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg here in New York—refusing to prosecute crime has got to stop.”

“If Gov. Hochul won’t do the right thing and remove him from office, New Yorkers should have the power to do so on their own,” the lawmaker added.

The Epoch Times has contacted Bragg’s office for comment.

In order for the constitutional amendment to take effect, New York’s Democratic-led state legislature would need to approve the change in back-to-back sessions separated by an election, according to New York Daily News. It would then need to be signed off by voters.

The move by GOP lawmakers in New York comes just days after San Fransisco voted to recall progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin after he came under fire for failed criminal justice reform policies that have led to a sharp rise in a number of crimes such as homicides, thefts, and gun crimes, as well as an increase in drug overdose deaths and homelessness.

More than 61.3 percent of voters supported his recall, meaning San Francisco Mayor London Breed must now appoint an interim district attorney until Nov. 8, the date that a permanent replacement is set to be elected.

Brad Jones contributed to this report.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.