Gov. Kathy Hochul doubles down on keeping bail reform laws as is, says DA, judges, "Do your job"
NEW YORK -- Facing demands for changes to bail laws from Mayor Eric Adams, police officials, business owners and Republican leaders, Gov. Kathy Hochul is doubling down, insisting judges already have the tools to put the bad guys away.
But is she right?
She's a governor seeking re-election who admitted Thursday that she can't call a special session of the Legislature to modify the bail laws because lawmakers would just gavel in, gavel out, and go home without doing anything.
So instead, Hochul went on the offensive, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.
"District attorneys, do your jobs. Judges, do your jobs. And then we start to having a change in the trajectory where we are right now," Hochul said.
READ MORE: A Conversation on Bail Reform
The governor was on the hot seat, holding a show-and-tell news conference on a cache of illegal guns the state police have confiscated. It came a day after Mayor Adams demanded changes to the bail laws that have allowed a rogue's gallery of bad guys to roam the streets of the city -- the 10 "worst of the worst" crooks who have amassed 485 arrests in the two years since bail reform took effect.
"Every one of the cases that Mayor Adams talked about in his press conference yesterday, I agree with him 1,000 percent that they never should have been let out, none of them. And here's the good news, going forward in a message to the judges: Every one of them was bail eligible. Every single one of them could have been held by judges using their discretion," Hochul said.
The debate breaks down to this: Mayor Adams wants judges to be able to consider dangerousness in setting bail, like 49 other states. The governor says lawmakers tightened the laws a few months ago, making more crimes bail eligible and giving judges additional discretion. She says judges need to read up on the law.
Kramer took the issue to criminal defense lawyer David Schwartz, a former assistant district attorney in Brooklyn.
"When the governor says today that judges have the ability to hold all kinds of people on bail because of their past crimes and whatever, is she right?" Kramer asked.
"She's not right because you have automatic ... you have automatic release on your own recognizance when it comes to almost all crimes except for the very serious violent crimes," Schwartz said. "The idea that you cannot consider the danger to the community, no matter what crime the person commits, it could be a turnstile-jumping case, that person could be very dangerous and that has to be considered on every single case."
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, accompanied by Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis and GOP lieutenant governor candidate Allison Esposito, had a high-profile meeting with the city police union leaders. Esposito slammed the bail laws that freed the man who attacked her running mate, Lee Zeldin, and McCarthy backed her up.
"The charge, assault 2, should be eligible for bail if the judge is given the discretion to weigh the seriousness of the offense and the past history," Esposito said.
McCarthy told the cop unions that if Zeldin and Esposito get elected they will bring a "new direction" to law enforcement in this city.
Meanwhile, Zeldin launched a "Repeal cashless bail" petition drive for New Yorkers to sound off.
for more features.