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The legality of Lee Zeldin’s claims to fire “weak” prosecutors, end cashless bail

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Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul is squaring off with her opponent, Republican Lee Zeldin, and election day is just five days away. Zeldin is getting a lot of traction by boasting a tough on crime approach. But is one of his campaign ad promises, as simple as he makes it seem, legal?

On October 11th, Zeldin talked to Sean Hannity on Fox News about what he would do as governor, saying in part, “my first action the first day I’m in office, is turning to the Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg to let him know he’s being fired.” But can Zeldin or any elected governor in New York state legally show an elected district attorney the door immediately?

“There’s going to have to be a process, and I did read that he amended his statement that he would remove him as soon as he is able. I think that’s reflecting of the fact that he’s aware that there is a due process in place that he’s going to have to see through,” explained Lisa Silva, a Partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC.

We asked Silva, “would it be the first time in a long time that somebody is removed by a Governor in our state?” She answered, “there’s some very old precedents, almost like a hundred years ago, where we’ve gone for full removal. In more recent history we see that governors have been successful in removing district attorneys from certain cases.” Silva added, “The district attorney is elected, that’s the will of the people.”

Zeldin also claims he would do away with bail reform if he’s elected and would declare a crime emergency across New York. “The order itself might be okay, as far as it’s legality and constitutionality, but it’s too uncertain of a way to firm up a policy or a piece of law that you’re trying to put forward,” said Silva.

We reached out to both Governor Hochul’s office and Lee Zeldin’s campaign for comment.

Election Day is November 8th.

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