Tompkins County DA: New discovery laws have a ‘profound’ impact on the county

Local News

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Tompkins County District Attorney shared exclusively with NewsChannel 9 that he is applying for a grant to ask the state to help him pay for the unintended consequences of the new justice reform laws.

Matt Van Houten said the laws are having a profound impact on the county, as they’ve had to restructure their office and hire people to keep up with the workload.

Due to the new timeline placed on the discovery process, which says the DA’s office has 15 days from an arraignment to give the defense all the evidence needed in the case, they’ve spent $200,000 hiring a paralegal and investigator to take care of that process. And when it comes to traffic tickets, the DA’s office simply doesn’t have the time or resources. The city prosecutor is now working overtime to handle that process.

However, Van Houten says the least anticipated impact is since the law took effect, his office alone has taken up the bandwidth of the internet for the entire county, essentially shutting it down. Now, the DA is applying for a grant from the state to buy a separate network to handle all of that evidence. He says that would cost $500 a month, money they don’t have in this year’s budget.

“We’ve discovered a couple of things that we are trying to address and just taking it one day at a time, but I think everybody across the state is worried about how this is going to affect the system long term,” said Matt Van Houten, Tompkins County District Attorney.

Van Houten says they’ve always believed in giving the defense everything they need, but these laws simply go too far with the timeline.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said there is, “No doubt this is still a work in progress, and there are other changes that have to be made.”

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For more local news, follow Julia LeBlanc on Twitter @JulialeBlancNC9.

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