JUSTICE for
EDSON THEVENIN

Father, husband, community member, murdered by Troy police in April 2016

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  1. Protestors call for the repeal of 50-a, NYC, 2019. (Image: NY1)

    50-a is Repealed by NY State Legislature

    
    
    
    
    

    In June 2020, Section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law is repealed following protests and citizen demands.

    According to the State Assembly, Section 50-a "permits law enforcement officers to refuse disclosure of 'personnel records used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion.' This exemption was adopted in 1976 by the Legislature in order to prevent criminal defense lawyers from using such records in cross examination of police witnesses during criminal prosecutions. According to the 2014 annual report by the State Committee on Open Government to the Governor and the State Legislature, 'this narrow exemption has been expanded in the courts to allow police departments to withhold from the public virtually any record that contains any information that could conceivably be used to evaluate the performance of a police officer.'"1

    50-a is significant in the case surrounding the police murder of Edson Thevenin. The City of Troy defended withholding the Centanni Report in the Thevenin family lawsuit or to the public on the basis of 50-a. The judge determined this was illegal in the context of an ongoing federal lawsuit.

    U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart ordered that the City of Troy share this report with the Thevenin family noting that "John D. Aspland, the attorney for the city and French, was seeking to block disclosure of the report on the basis of a state law — section 50-a of state Civil Rights Law — that does not apply in a federal court proceeding." 2

    Although the Ranalli Report is still held in secret, now that 50-a has been repealed, Troy Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) (as well as the NY Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)) have filed Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests for the disciplinary records of multiple Troy police officers. The Troy DSA request includes a request for the Ranalli Report. The FOIL requests were filed in late July. As of September 2020, these files have not been released.345

    1. NY State Assembly, Bill A09332 Summary, June 6, 2020.
      https://nyassembly.gov/leg/?default_fld=&bn=9332&term=2015&Summary=Y&Memo=Yback
    2. Brendan J. Lyons, "Judge orders Troy to disclose internal report on fatal police shooting," The Times Union, July 2, 2019.
      https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Judge-orders-Troy-to-disclose-internal-report-on-14066914.phpback
    3. Ben Schaefer, "NYCLU Launches Statewide Police Misconduct Transparency Campaign," NYCLU, September 15, 2020.
      https://www.nyclu.org/en/press-releases/nyclu-launches-statewide-police-misconduct-transparency-campaignback
    4. Press Release, "Troy Democratic Socialists of America Demands the City of Troy Immediately Release Police Officer Disciplinary Records," July 29, 2020.
      https://www.facebook.com/1772512186363259/posts/press-releasetroy-democratic-socialists-of-america-demands-the-city-of-troy-imme/2792474174367050/back
    5. WRBG Staff, "Troy Democratic Socialists of America calls for release of Troy PD disciplinary records," CBS 6 Albany (WRBG News), July 29, 2020.
      https://cbs6albany.com/news/local/troy-democratic-socialists-of-america-calls-for-release-of-troy-pd-disciplinary-recordsback
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