Gov. Cuomo Signs Bill to Close Loophole in New York’s Double Jeopardy Law

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill to close an unintended loophole in the state’s Double Jeopardy law.

The newly-signed Double Jeopardy law allows the state Attorney General and other prosecutors to bypass a presidential pardon when used for corrupt purposes. It gives law enforcement authorities the ability to file criminal charges against those who do not deserve a presidential pardon.

In April 2018, then New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman requested state lawmakers to close a loophole in the Double Jeopardy law. He made the request after reports indicated that President Donald Trump “may be considering issuing pardons that may impede criminal investigations.”

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol introduced legislation to close the Double Jeopardy loophole. The current state Attorney General Letitia James worked with Sen. Kaminsky and Assemblyman Lentol to advance the bill in the state legislature.

New York Double Jeopardy law is a “reasonable & necessary check on presidential power”

In a statement on Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo said, “No one is above the law and New York will not turn a blind eye to criminality, no matter who seeks to protect them. The closure of this egregious loophole gives prosecutors the ability to stand up against any abuse of power, and helps ensure that no politically motivated, self-serving action is sanctioned under law.”

He added, “I thank the Attorney General for her work to advance this much-needed reform and by signing it into law we are taking another step toward a stronger, fairer and more just Empire State for all.”

On the other hand, AG James commented, “We have a responsibility to ensure that individuals who commit crimes under New York state law are held accountable for those crimes. This critical new law closes a gaping loophole that could have allowed any president to abuse the presidential pardon power by unfairly granting a pardon to a family member or close associate and possibly allow that individual to evade justice altogether.”

In addition, AG James said the new Double Jeopardy law provides a “reasonable and necessary check on presidential power.” She reiterated that “no one is above the law.”