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Griffo proposes law that would allow video arraignments without defendant consent

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - There's a new push in Albany to remove so-called "roadblocks" to video arraignments.

State Senator Joseph Griffo, along with Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara and Sheriff Robert Maciol held a news conference Monday morning where Griffo said current law makes makes it difficult to move the arraignment process along.

Senator Griffo said that currently, the accused has to consent to being arraigned via video conference, a law that he feels is a hindrance to streamlining the process.

"All the power to decide this is effectively in the hands of someone who is suspected of breaking the law and who has been arrested," Griffo said. "Not surprisingly, few criminals want to make life easy, and so very few allow counties to use the time-saving and cost-saving process of video arraignments,"

Griffo said he believes his proposed bill that would authorize the electronic appearance of a defendant in arraignments, without the consent of the defendant would make the process much more efficient.

"It'll allow us to reduce costs, continuing to protect officers who, each and everyday, are involved in transporting prisoners," Senator Griffo said. "It, essentially will take away that option where the defendant has to consent in order to appear through video arraignment."

Griffo say it is not a question of getting the technology, he says Oneida County is already equipped with video arraignment capabilities.

"The interactive video and audio arraignment process is already used in the majority of states nationally," said District Attorney McNamara. "In New York, it's watered down because it's elective. By making it compulsory, the due process of the accused moves forward without delay and without jeopardizing any of their rights."

Griffo noted that this legislation only applies to arraignments and not to hearings or trials.

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