Back to all news
Embattled Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is facing mounting calls to be ousted — especially in the wake of his soft-on-crime counterpart DA Chesa Boudin getting bounced from his job.
But unlike the recall vote against Boudin in San Francisco, which saw 60% of fed-up voters rejecting his progressive politics, the power of removing a district attorney in New York falls to the governor.
“If the governor has information that [a] district attorney is not properly fulfilling his or her duties, she then can request that an investigation be conducted,” Donald Chesworth, a former Monroe County district attorney, told The Post.
New York’s GOP gubernatorial candidates on Wednesday called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to step in and use her sway under Section 34 of the state Public Officers Law to get rid of Bragg and, in turn, his controversial policies — which they argue are putting criminals back on the streets.
The governor has enormous leeway to decide what conduct might warrant removal of a district attorney — and who should investigate it, explained Chesworth, a partner at Tully Rinckey and former state police superintendent.
So how exactly does the process work?
Under Section 34, investigators have the ability to subpoena witnesses and evidence for a hearing, which must be held at least eight days after the accused has received written notice of its time and location.
“No evidence taken in such investigation shall form the basis of any report to the governor … or the basis of any determination by the governor, unless such evidence is presented at the hearing,” Section 34 reads.
Once a hearing concludes, a report should be sent to the governor.
It is ultimately up to the governor to weigh the evidence and decide whether removal is warranted for any accused district attorney, county clerk or sheriff, according to Chesworth.
Removal becomes official once the governor – who gets to appoint a replacement to serve the remainder of an ousted official’s term in office – sends written notice to the office of the secretary of state.
“The governor would say: ‘I’ve been provided sufficient information [to show] that in my judgment, this person should be removed from office,’” Chesworth said.
In addition to district attorneys, the governor can also remove — with relative ease — county clerks and sheriffs across the Empire State.
“It’s clear that that’s what the law allows – and it’s been that way forever,” Chesworth said.
He added that Section 34 has seldom, if ever, been used to remove an elected official in recent decades.
Bragg faced an online petition calling for his ouster in January for his policies to downgrade or not prosecute certain crimes. A month later, he walked back a pair of those policies amid backlash.
New York GOP gubernatorial candidates Andrew Giuliani and Rep. Lee Zeldin led calls for Bragg’s removal Wednesday following Boudin’s ouster.
Congressman Zeldin insisted that Hochul’s refusal to remove Bragg would be her undoing.
“Californians made their voice heard, and, in November, New Yorkers will too when they remove Kathy Hochul for, among many reasons, her refusal to fire pro-criminal Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg,” he said.
“New Yorkers are sick and tired of criminals ruling our streets, and they’re ready to end the attacks on our safety, repeal cashless bail, take back our streets and save our state.”
NY GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, meanwhile, accused Hochul of caving “to the radical left,” saying she “will never have the courage to remove woke Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.”
“But under a Republican governor, we will absolutely remove prosecutors who don’t do their jobs,” Langworthy said.