The Justice Center’s Office of General Counsel is responsible for reviewing completed investigations, evaluating the evidence from those investigations, conducting criminal background checks of prospective employees of agencies or providers, representing state agencies in administrative proceedings for employees found to have committed acts of abuse and neglect, maintaining a list of individuals who should not be hired by agencies or providers, providing access to Justice Center records and the handling of all of the agency’s general legal issues.

Case Review & Closure – The Justice Center reviews investigations, whether conducted internally by the Justice Center, a state agency it oversees, or a provider, to ensure the investigation is complete and has been conducted appropriately within the law.

Criminal Background Checks (CBC) The Protection of People with Special Needs Act centralizes the criminal history background check process for facilities or service providers overseen by OMH, OPWDD and providers of residential programs for children overseen by OCFS. The CBC Unit reviews the criminal history for prospective employees or volunteers, and makes an initial determination regarding suitability for employment.

Employee Discipline – The Justice Center’s Office of General Counsel Employee Discipline Unit represents the six New York State Oversight Agencies in all administrative proceedings relating to the discipline of state employees found to have committed acts of abuse or neglect. Under various collective bargaining agreements, state employees can be separated from state service, or incur other penalties because of disciplinary charges brought against them. As part of its representation, the Justice Center reviews and approves all notices of discipline for employees of state-operated facilities prior to those disciplinary charges being filed.

Records Management and Access –The Justice Center deals with, and generates, significant volumes of records, many of which are privacy protected under state and federal laws and regulations, or which may be subject to sealing. The Records Management and Access Unit is tasked with managing these records in conformance with the applicable laws, including but not limited to the NYS Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). This unit also maintains and administers the Staff Exclusion List – a primary function of the agency.

Staff Exclusion List – The Justice Center maintains the Staff Exclusion List, a statewide register that contains the names of individuals who have been determined to be responsible for serious or repeated acts of abuse or neglect as defined by law. Individuals whose names are placed on the SEL are prohibited from being hired by any facility or provider agency which is operated, licensed or certified by an SOA that serve people with special needs. Employers are required to check this list before hiring employees who will be working with anyone with special needs.

General LegalThe Justice Center’s Office of General Counsel is responsible for handling the agency’s day to day legal matters, including responding to subpoenas, responding to and corresponding with attorneys for individuals, organizations and other state agencies. OGC oversees all agency civil litigation and liaisons with the New York State Attorney General’s Office on all pending lawsuits and actions. In addition, OGC provides advice and counsel as appropriate to the Executive Director, agency leadership and staff.