Criminal justice reforms begin to impact local courts |

Criminal justice reforms begin to impact local courts

WNYT Staff
Updated: December 24, 2019 06:59 PM
Created: December 24, 2019 12:38 PM

Criminal justice reforms take effect in 2020, but some local courts are already feeling the impact.

The new laws were considered in one case in Saratoga County Court on Tuesday.

The laws are expected to have a far reaching impact across New York State.

Aaron Buckner, 44, is a man who has grown quite familiar with the criminal justice system, having been convicted 5-times previously for felonies, and 5-times for misdemeanors.

Buckner is currently facing 4-more felonies for allegedly selling illicit drugs. Despite his 23-page rap sheet, and regardless of the fact Judge Murphy thinks he's a flight risk, Buckner was released on recognizance on Christmas Eve afternoon.

Even though bail reform kicks in on January 1, 2020, Buckner became the beneficiary of that new law one week early.

“Bail is really the guarantee you'll come back to court. It's not about whether you're innocent or guilty,” said Assemblyman John McDonald.

Even though Cohoes Assemblyman John McDonald says he had reservations about bail reform legislation that passed last session, he voted in favor of it.

“Sometimes the legislature, the executive, and maybe those practicing in the field don't always get it right and if we didn't get it right, then we need to come back and correct it,” added McDonald.

McDonald acknowledges the Buckner case is an extreme example of why judges need to maintain their discretion over matters of bail, and he's certain the issue will be revisited when the legislature reconvenes in January.

Until his trial begins, Buckner will face some non-monetary conditions against him. He will have a curfew from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. He will also need to check in with a parole officer daily.

He is expected back in court on January 14, 2020.

To hear more about the case, click on Dan Levy’s report.

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