CSAO: Judiciary Committee - March 6, 2017 - S.B. No. 366

TESTIMONY OF THE DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE

IN OPPOSITION TO:

S.B. NO. 366 (COMM) AN ACT REQUIRING A PARTY TO REIMBURSE THE STATE OR A MUNICIPALITY FOR THE WAGES OF AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS SUBPOENAED TO TESTIFY IN A LEGAL PROCEEDING.

JOINT COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
March 6, 2017

The Division of Criminal Justice strongly opposes S.B. No. 366, An Act Requiring a Party to Reimburse the State or a Municipality for the Wages of an Employee Who Is Subpoenaed to Testify in a Legal Proceeding, and recommends the Committee take NO ACTION on this bill.

The fiscal impact of S.B. No. 366 on the Division of Criminal Justice alone can be described as nothing less than devastating. As now written, this bill would require the Division to reimburse state and municipal law enforcement agencies whenever one of their officers or employees is subpoenaed to testify in a criminal proceeding.

What this means is that the Division would face new and substantial costs each time a municipal police officer, state police officer, medical examiner, forensic laboratory staff member was called upon to testify in a criminal proceeding. Again, the cost to the Division, i.e., the fiscal impact to the state, can be described as nothing less than devastating. This would apply to a significant number of criminal cases each year where the testimony of public safety and law enforcement personnel is required. The nearly 300 trials held each year would be affected as would a significant number of hearings outside of trial where witnesses are subpoenaed. The fiscal impact would not end with the Division of Criminal Justice, as it would appear that the bill would place the same reimbursement burden on the Division of Public Defender Services.

In providing their testimony, these professionals are simply doing their jobs. The work of the police officer, state trooper, medical examiner or DNA analyst does not end when the arrest is made, autopsy completed or DNA sample analyzed. Their testimony is a critical element of the administration of justice and the pursuit of the truth. Yet this bill would, in effect, punish the Division of Criminal Justice at the expense of a municipal police department for simply carrying out its constitutional responsibility to protect the public safety through the effective prosecution of cases initiated by that police department.

Additionally, S.B. No. 366 makes no sense in terms of state fiscal policy. The bill would have the Division of Criminal Justice make reimbursements the state police, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner or the forensic lab whenever their personnel were subpoenaed to testify. Such a system would produce no savings to the state’s bottom line since the money would just be taken out of state agency and put into another. In fact, the state would in all likelihood realize a net loss when the cost of administering such a system is taken into account.

For these reasons, the Division of Criminal Justice respectfully recommends the Committee take NO ACTION on S.B. No. 366. We would be happy to provide any additional information the Committee might require or to answer any questions that you might have.



Content Last Modified on 3/3/2017 3:30:31 PM