New York Criminal Procedure Law section 390.50 - Interpretation

Section 390.50 of the Criminal Procedure Law entitled, "Confidentiality of pre-sentence reports and memoranda" provides in part: "any pre-sentence report or memorandum submitted to the court pursuant to this article and any medical, psychiatric or social agency report or other information gathered for the court by a probation department, or submitted directly to the court, in connection with the question of sentence is confidential and may not be made available to any person or public or private agency except where specifically required or permitted by statute or upon specific authorization of the court." (CPL 390.50 [1]) In Holmes v. State of New York, (140 AD2d 854, 528 NYS2d 686 [3d Dept 1988]), an inmate was assaulted by another inmate and sued the State alleging that the perpetrator should not have been housed in general population because he was a "known mental patient." (Holmes, 140 AD2d at 854.) The trial court withheld materials relating to the perpetrator's social, psychological, and psychiatric background because they were part of the presentence report, and pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law 390.50 were confidential. The appellate court affirmed and emphasized that no other court other than the sentencing court is statutorily authorized to permit disclosure of this presentencing information.