Petitioners in these three appeals each seek to compel the respondent police departments to comply with their Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests for records pertaining to the sex crimes for which they were convicted. Petitioners requested the documents for use in collateral review of their convictions. The police departments, citing Civil Rights Law § 50-b (1), refused the requests in their entirety. Civil Rights Law § 50-b (1) prohibits disclosure by a government employee of any portion of a police report, court file or other document which tends to identify the victim of a sex crime. Petitioners commenced CPLR article 78 proceedings to compel the police departments to comply with their requests arguing that, although section 50-b (1) bars disclosure of information that tends to identify the victim of a sex crime, the exception in section 50-b (2) (a) allowing disclosure to persons “charged” with a sex offense applied to them. The Appellate Division panels have concluded that the term “charged” should be read to apply to the petitioners.
A New York Criminal lawyer said that in 1985, Respondent was convicted in Supreme Court of rape, sodomy, sexual abuse and burglary. He challenged his conviction in a CPL article 440 motion which Supreme Court denied. The Appellate Division affirmed the conviction as well as denial of the CPL article 440 motion. In March 1994, Respondent made a FOIL request to the New York City Police Department for 25 categories of police reports pertaining to his case, which the Police Department denied. Respondent commenced the present article 78 proceeding to compel disclosure. He allegedly seeks these documents in order to file a federal habeas corpus petition. Supreme Court ordered disclosure of the documents and the Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the petitioner was similarly situated to a person charged with a crime.
In the second case, respondent was convicted in Supreme Court of rape, sodomy and assault in 1988. His conviction was affirmed on appeal. Respondent made three applications for a writ of error coram nobis, which were denied, as well as three unsuccessful motions. Recently, Respondent in federal court prays for a writ of habeas corpus. Although an evidentiary hearing is pending, the federal court has summarily denied all but one of Respondent’s claims of error at his trial. He made his FOIL request to the New York City Police Department, seeking nine categories of reports. The Police Department denied the request under Civil Rights Law § 50-b (1). However, Respondent made another, contemporaneous FOIL request to the District Attorney’s Office seeking substantially the same material, and the District Attorney complied. Respondent brought the present article 78 proceeding to compel the Police Department to disclose its records. He claims they are relevant to the issues raised in his CPL article 440 and federal habeas corpus proceedings. The Supreme Court ordered the Police Department to deliver the records and the Appellate Division, citing its decision in Respondent, affirmed.
In the third case, 1987 Charles Doyen was convicted in County Court of sodomy and kidnapping. The Appellate Division affirmed the sodomy conviction and reversed the kidnapping conviction. In 1998, Respondent requested 13 categories of documents from the New York State Police pertaining to his investigation and arrest. The police denied the request, and Respondent commenced a CPLR article 78 proceeding to compel disclosure. Supreme Court dismissed the petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In reinstating the petition, the Appellate Division concluded that criminal petitioner was similarly situated to a person charged with a crime and, furthermore, that the legislative history of Civil Rights Law § 50-b revealed an intent to treat post-conviction litigants the same as those who have merely been charged.
All government records are presumptively open for public inspection unless specifically exempted from disclosure as provided in the Public Officers Law. In these, the FOIL petitioners, one of whom was convicted of a sex crimes, sought to obtain complaint follow-up reports and other records for which the police claimed a blanket “intra-agency” exemption. The Court rejected the claim and remitted the cases for a particularized showing as to whether any exemption applied, noting that exemptions must be narrowly construed and the burden rests on the government agency to show that requested material qualifies for exemption.
The Public Officers Law § 87 (2) (a) provides for a limitation of disclosure of documents specifically exempted by state or federal statute. Petitioners assert that they are entitled to disclosure of the requested materials under Civil Rights Law § 50-b (2) (a) in order to prepare for collateral review of their convictions to the same extent as a defendant facing trial. In each of these cases, the Appellate Division agreed, stating that the petitioners were similarly situated to a person charged with a crime and seeking documents to mount a defense. The use of the term “charged,” however, in the exception at Civil Rights Law § 50-b (2) (a), puts the petitioners, already convicted, outside the scope of the statute.
Committing a sex-related crime is not only legally wrong, it is likewise morally wrong. Here in Stephen Bilkis and Associates, our New York Sex Crimes lawyers will help the victims by filing a complaint against the immoral offender. By doing this, said offender will suffer the consequences of his acts. We also have our New York Criminal attorneys who will give you more information on how to enforce your rights as a victim of these immoral crimes.