New York courts unexpectedly run out of witnesses ahead of 2020 anti-crime law

Albany, NY (Bloomberg) — Chuck Silver has been the Chief Clerk of Albany Count Court for 20 years, and he’s never seen anything like it.

“We unexpectedly lost all the witnesses who were scheduled to testify in criminal trials next year,” Silver said. “It’s unprecedented.”

Although a gag order prevents Silver from speculating on the record, sources in the state justice system blame a new anti-crime law set to take effect on January 1, 2020.

Under the new law, non-violent suspects will be set free pending trial, and allowed to file a motion with the court requesting to return to the scene of the crime.

Non-violent crimes include second-degree manslaughter, aggravated vehicular assault, promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child, possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, criminally negligent homicide, and aggravated vehicular homicide.

“The idea is that the defendant and his representatives can return to the crime scene, take photographs, take measurements, and stuff along those lines,” said Lt. Henry McCarty with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.

Although Lt. McCarty was not allowed to speak about the total disappearance of witnesses, he did say that if a crime happens in your home, and the defendant is granted permission to return to the scene, you could be arrested if you don’t comply.

“Crime victims could face a charge of criminal contempt by not allowing an offender to return to the scene of the crime,” McCarty said, adding that, officially, the Sheriff’s Office has no explanation for the unexpected disappearance of all witnesses in the state of New York.

“It’s tough to explain,” McCarty said.

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