ALBANY—Attorney General Letitia James applauds the State Senate for passing legislation that would close an unintended loophole in the state’s robust “double jeopardy” law. Left unaddressed, the current loophole in the law could deny New York the opportunity to pursue justice under state law in certain instances of abuse of the presidential pardon power.

Attorney General Letitia James said: “I commend the State Senate for passing this legislation this session, and I thank Senator Kaminsky for his leadership in helping to usher it through. Our current “double jeopardy” law, while a well-intended and necessary law, could leave the state vulnerable in instances of abuse of the presidential pardon power. Historically, this law has been used as a tool to safeguard and protect people against the abuse of governmental power, not as a tool to be exploited and to deny justice altogether. This legislation upholds the standards of fairness and justice at the core of the “double jeopardy” law. It also embodies a central component to the foundation of our democracy: the president – unlike a monarch or authoritarian dictator – is not above the law and our laws should apply to all people of this nation equally, including and especially our leaders. It is a good law today and will remain good law regardless of who our president is in the future.”

The bill is Senate Bill S4572, which establishes an additional exception to the state’s “double jeopardy” law by creating a narrow set of criteria that would prevent the pardon power from being used for a president’s self-interest and self-dealing. To date, the state legislature has established twelve exceptions to the “double jeopardy” law. The legislation is now before the State Assembly (A6653) for their consideration and approval.

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