ALBANY, N.Y. (WRGB) - Have you ever made a call to 911 to report a crime?
Next year if you do, your contact information will end up in the hands of the suspect police arrest.
It’s a new reality of New York's discovery reform laws taking effect just 12 days from now on January 1st.
CBS 6’s Anne McCloy spoke to the Albany County District Attorney one-on-one.
“These are the areas we have to fix.”
Albany County District Attorney David Soares is dreading the conversations he knows we will have to have with crime victims.
“By the way, I have to provide your cell phone number to his lawyer in a few weeks. I don’t know how I’m going to have these conversations with a victim,” Soares said.
Thursday, the DA invited the media to listen-in on his office's plan to comply with new criminal justice reforms. He stepped out to answer our questions.
Come January 1st, 2020, he says state law will mandate prosecutors hand over the contact information of victims and witnesses to criminal defendants within 15 days of arraignment. Even if the witness wants to remain anonymous or gives false information to protect their identity, Soares says he will have to reveal the tipster's identity.
“There are people who call 911, report a crime and hang up the phone. In two weeks, I have to turn over your real information,” Soares said.
“We have scanners, we have everyone working around the clock,” said a staffer.
Right now, the DA's office is digitizing all of its evidentiary files, some dating back decades, so that prosecutors can meet deadlines. Beginning January 1st they must also hand over any evidence pertaining to a case within 15 days.
“If you are unable to meet the deadlines, does that mean high profile cases can be dismissed? That means high profile cases can be dismissed,” Soares said.
Soares says prosecutors used to hand over the evidence to the defense as they received it. He tells me he is unsure how prosecutors will get evidence such as toxicology results and DNA evidence back within in two weeks.
“When we pointed it out to the governor’s office that they need to increase staffing at the labs, they just shrugged their shoulders,” Soares said.
Because of the concerns brought forward by prosecutors and law enforcement, two Republican lawmakers want the reforms placed on hold and are calling for a special session to address the problems.
Jason Conwall, spokesman for Gov. Cuomo, said it is critically important for you to note that prosecutors can ask the judge for a 30-day extension if evidence can’t be reasonably obtained within the 15 days.
He sent a statement saying in part:
“We carefully considered the views of law enforcement to ensure we enacted balanced reforms that were long overdue and will bring greater fairness to New York’s criminal justice system.”