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Civil Rights Law

Consolidated Laws of New York's CVR code

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Article 7 - NY Civil Rights Law

RIGHTS AND IMMUNITIES

Section Description
70Vexatious suits.
70-AActions involving public petition and participation; recovery of damages.
71Damages in action for suing in name of another.
72Term of imprisonment of civil prisoner.
73Code of fair procedure for investigating agencies.
74Privileges in action for libel.
75Defamation by radio or television.
76Action for libel: evidence, separate verdicts.
76-AActions involving public petition and participation; when actual malice to be proven.
77Special damages in action for slander of a woman.
78Mitigating circumstances in action for libel or slander.
79Section 79 - Article 7
  S 70. Vexatious suits. If a person vexatiously or maliciously, in the
  name of another but without the latter's consent, or in the name  of  an
  unknown  person,  commences  or  continues, or causes to be commenced or
  continued, an action or special proceeding, in a court, of record or not
  of record, or a special proceeding before a judge or a  justice  of  the
  peace; or takes, or causes to be taken, any proceeding, in the course of
  an  action  or  special  proceeding  in  such a court, or before such an
  officer, either before or after judgment or other  final  determination;
  an  action  to recover damages therefor may be maintained against him by
  the adverse party to the action or special proceeding; and a like action
  may be maintained by the person, if any, whose name was thus used. He is
  also guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment  not  exceeding
  six months.

  S 70-a. Actions involving public petition and participation; recovery
  of damages. 1. A defendant in an action involving  public  petition  and
  participation, as defined in paragraph (a) of subdivision one of section
  seventy-six-a  of  this  article,  may  maintain an action, claim, cross
  claim or counterclaim to recover damages, including costs and attorney's
  fees, from any person who commenced or continued such  action;  provided
  that:
    (a)  costs  and  attorney's fees may be recovered upon a demonstration
  that  the  action  involving  public  petition  and  participation   was
  commenced  or  continued without a substantial basis in fact and law and
  could not be supported by a  substantial  argument  for  the  extension,
  modification or reversal of existing law;
   (b)   other  compensatory  damages  may  only  be  recovered  upon  an
  additional demonstration that the action involving public  petition  and
  participation  was  commenced or continued for the purpose of harassing,
  intimidating, punishing or otherwise  maliciously  inhibiting  the  free
  exercise of speech, petition or association rights; and
    (c)  punitive  damages  may  only  be  recovered  upon  an  additional
  demonstration  that   the   action   involving   public   petition   and
  participation  was  commenced  or  continued  for  the  sole  purpose of
  harassing, intimidating, punishing or otherwise  maliciously  inhibiting
  the free exercise of speech, petition or association rights.
    2.  The right to bring an action under this section can be waived only
  if it is waived specifically.
    3. Nothing in this section shall affect or preclude the right  of  any
  party to any recovery otherwise authorized by common law, or by statute,
  law or rule.

  S 71.  Damages  in action for suing in name of another. In an action,
  brought by the adverse party, as prescribed in  the  last  section,  the
  plaintiff,  if he recovers final judgment, is entitled to recover treble
  damages. In an action, brought by the person whose  name  was  used,  as
  prescribed in the last section, the plaintiff is entitled to recover his
  actual damages, and two hundred and fifty dollars in addition thereto.  

  S 72.  Term  of  imprisonment  of  civil prisoner. No person shall be
  imprisoned within the prison walls of any jail for a longer period  than
  three  months under an execution or any other mandate against the person
  to enforce the recovery of a sum of money less than five hundred dollars
  in amount or under a commitment upon a fine for contempt of court in the
  nonpayment of  alimony,  maintenance,  distributive  awards  or  special
  relief  in  matrimonial  actions or counsel fees in a divorce case where
  the amount so to be paid is less than the sum of five  hundred  dollars;
  and  where the amount in either of said cases is five hundred dollars or
  over, such imprisonment shall not continue for a longer period than  six
  months.  It  shall  be the duty of the sheriff in whose custody any such
  person is held to discharge  such  person  at  the  expiration  of  said
  respective  periods  without any formal application being made therefor.
  No person shall be imprisoned within the jail liberties of any jail  for
  a  longer  period  than  six  months upon any execution or other mandate
  against the person to enforce the recovery of  a  sum  of  five  hundred
  dollars  or  over  or  for  a  longer period than three months where the
  amount is less than  five  hundred  dollars,  and  no  action  shall  be
  commenced  against  the sheriff upon a bond given for the jail liberties
  by such person. In computing the term of imprisonment time spent  within
  the  prison  walls  of any jail and time spent within the jail liberties
  shall be included. Notwithstanding such a discharge  in  either  of  the
  above  cases,  the  judgment creditor in the execution, or the person at
  whose instance the said mandate was issued, has the same remedy  against
  the  property  of  the person imprisoned which he or she had before such
  execution or mandate was issued; but the prisoner  shall  not  be  again
  imprisoned  upon a like process issued in the same action or arrested in
  any action upon any judgment under which the same may have been granted.
  Except in a case hereinbefore specified nothing in  this  section  shall
  affect a commitment for contempt of court.

  S 73. Code of fair procedure for investigating agencies. 1. As used in
  this section the following terms shall mean and include:
    (a)  "Agency".  A  standing or select committee of either house of the
  legislature or a joint committee  of  both  houses;  a  duly  authorized
  subcommittee  of  any  such  legislative  committee; the commissioner of
  investigation acting pursuant to section eleven of the executive law;  a
  commissioner appointed by the governor acting pursuant to section six of
  the  executive  law; the attorney general acting pursuant to subdivision
  eight of section sixty-three of the executive law; any  temporary  state
  commission  or  any  duly  authorized subcommittee thereof which has the
  power to require testimony or the production of evidence by subpoena  or
  other  compulsory process in an investigation being conducted by it; and
  any standing or  select  committee,  or  subcommittee  thereof,  of  the
  constitutional  convention  to  be  held  in  the  year nineteen hundred
  sixty-seven.
    (b)  "Hearing".  Any  hearing  in  the  course  of  an   investigatory
  proceeding (other than a preliminary conference or interview at which no
  testimony  is  taken  under  oath)  conducted  before an agency at which
  testimony or the production  of  other  evidence  may  be  compelled  by
  subpoena or other compulsory process.
    (c)  "Public hearing". Any hearing open to the public, or any hearing,
  or such part thereof, as to which testimony or other  evidence  is  made
  available or disseminated to the public by the agency.
    (d) "Private hearing". Any hearing other than a public hearing.
    2. No person may be required to appear at a hearing or to testify at a
  hearing  unless  there  has been personally served upon him prior to the
  time when he is required to appear,  a  copy  of  this  section,  and  a
  general  statement  of  the  subject of the investigation. A copy of the
  resolution, statute, order or other provision  of  law  authorizing  the
  investigation  shall be furnished by the agency upon request therefor by
  the person summoned.
    3. A witness summoned  to  a  hearing  shall  have  the  right  to  be
  accompanied  by counsel, who shall be permitted to advise the witness of
  his rights, subject to reasonable limitations to prevent obstruction  of
  or interference with the orderly conduct of the hearing. Counsel for any
  witness  who testifies at a public hearing may submit proposed questions
  to be asked of the witness  relevant  to  the  matters  upon  which  the
  witness has been questioned and the agency shall ask the witness such of
  the questions as it may deem appropriate to its inquiry.
    4. A complete and accurate record shall be kept of each public hearing
  and  a  witness  shall be entitled to receive a copy of his testimony at
  such hearing at his own expense. Where testimony  which  a  witness  has
  given  at a private hearing becomes relevant in a criminal proceeding in
  which the witness is a defendant, or in any subsequent hearing in  which
  the  witness  is summoned to testify, the witness shall be entitled to a
  copy of such testimony,  at  his  own  expense,  provided  the  same  is
  available,  and  provided  further that the furnishing of such copy will
  not prejudice the public safety or security.
    5. A witness who testifies at any hearing shall have the right at  the
  conclusion  of  his examination to file a brief sworn statement relevant
  to his testimony for incorporation in the record  of  the  investigatory
  proceeding.
    6.  Any  person  whose  name  is  mentioned  or  who  is  specifically
  identified and who believes that testimony or other evidence given at  a
  public  hearing  or  comment  made  by  any  member of the agency or its
  counsel at such a hearing tends to defame  him  or  otherwise  adversely
  affect  his reputation shall have the right, either to appear personally
  before the agency and testify in his own behalf as to  matters  relevant
  to  the testimony or other evidence complained of, or in the alternative
  at the option of the agency, to file a statement  of  facts  under  oath
  relating  solely  to matters relevant to the testimony or other evidence
  complained  of,  which  statement shall be incorporated in the record of
  the investigatory proceeding.
    7. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to  prevent  an  agency
  from  granting to witnesses appearing before it, or to persons who claim
  to be adversely affected by testimony or other evidence  adduced  before
  it, such further rights and privileges as it may determine.
    8.  Except  in the course of a subsequent hearing which is open to the
  public, no testimony or other evidence adduced at a private  hearing  or
  preliminary  conference  or  interview  conducted before a single-member
  agency in the course of its investigation shall be disseminated or  made
  available to the public by said agency, its counsel or employees without
  the  approval  of  the  head  of the agency.   Except in the course of a
  subsequent hearing open to the public, no testimony  or  other  evidence
  adduced  at  a  private  hearing  or preliminary conference or interview
  before a committee or other multi-member investigating agency  shall  be
  disseminated  or  made  available  to  the  public  by any member of the
  agency, its counsel or employees, except with the approval of a majority
  of the members of such agency. Any person who violates the provisions of
  this subdivision shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
    9. No temporary state commission having more than  two  members  shall
  have  the  power to take testimony at a public or private hearing unless
  at least two of its members are present at such hearing.
    10. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to effect, diminish or
  impair the right, under any other provision of law, rule or  custom,  of
  any  member  or  group  of  members of a committee or other multi-member
  investigating agency to file a statement or statements of minority views
  to accompany and be released with or subsequent to  the  report  of  the
  committee or agency.

  S 74.  Privileges  in  action  for  libel.  A  civil action cannot be
  maintained against any person, firm or corporation, for the  publication
  of  a  fair  and  true  report  of  any judicial proceeding, legislative
  proceeding or other official proceeding,  or  for  any  heading  of  the
  report which is a fair and true headnote of the statement published.
    This  section  does not apply to a libel contained in any other matter
  added by any person concerned in the publication; or in  the  report  of
  anything  said  or done at the time and place of such a proceeding which
  was not a part thereof.

  S 75.  Defamation by radio or television.  1.  The owner, licensee or
  operator of a visual or sound radio broadcasting station or  network  of
  stations,  and  the  agents  or employees of any such owner, licensee or
  operator, shall not  be  liable  for  any  damages  for  any  defamatory
  statement  published  or  uttered  in  or as a part of a visual or sound
  radio broadcast, by any legally qualified candidate  for  public  office
  whose   utterances,   under   rules   and  regulations  of  the  federal
  communications commission may not  be  subject  to  censorship  by  such
  owner,  licensee  or operator of such visual or sound radio broadcasting
  station or network of stations, or their agents or employees.
    2.  A "legally qualified candidate" means any person who has  publicly
  announced  that  he  is  a candidate for nomination by a convention of a
  political party or for nomination or election in a primary, special,  or
  general  election,  municipal,  county, state or national, and who meets
  the qualifications prescribed by the applicable laws to hold the  office
  for  which  he  is  a  candidate,  so  that  he  may be voted for by the
  electorate directly or by means of delegates or electors and who (a) has
  qualified for a place on  the  ballot  or  (b)  is  eligible  under  the
  applicable  law  to  be  voted  by writing in his name on the ballot, or
  other method, and who has been nominated by a political party  which  is
  commonly  known and regarded as such or makes a substantial showing that
  he is a bona fide candidate for nomination or office, as  the  case  may
  be.
    3.    In  order  to  be  absolved  from  liability for damages for any
  utterance by a legally qualified candidate as herein defined  in  or  as
  part  of  a  visual  or  sound  radio  broadcast, the owner, licensee or
  operator of such visual or sound radio broadcasting station  or  network
  of  stations,  or  the  agents  or employees thereof, shall announce, in
  substance, at the beginning and end of each such political broadcast  of
  more  than  five  minutes  duration,  and  at the beginning of each such
  political broadcast of five minutes duration or less, that  the  remarks
  about to be made, or made, as the case may be, by the speaker are not to
  be  construed  as reflecting the opinions or beliefs of the station, its
  ownership or management.

  S 76.  Action for libel: evidence, separate verdicts. At the trial of
  any civil action for libel, the defendant may prove,  for  consideration
  by  the jury in fixing the amount of the verdict, that the plaintiff has
  already recovered damages,  or  has  received,  or  agreed  to  receive,
  compensation  in  respect  of  a libel or libels of a similar purport or
  effect as the libel  for  which  such  action  has  been  brought.    In
  consolidated  actions  based  on libels of similar purport or effect the
  jury shall assess the whole amount of the  plaintiff's  damages  in  one
  sum, but a separate verdict shall be taken for or against each defendant
  and  the jury shall apportion the amount of damages among the defendants
  against whom it found a verdict.

   S 76-a.  Actions  involving  public  petition and participation; when
  actual malice to be proven. 1. For purposes of this section:
    (a) An "action involving public  petition  and  participation"  is  an
  action,  claim,  cross claim or counterclaim for damages that is brought
  by a public applicant or permittee, and is  materially  related  to  any
  efforts of the defendant to report on, comment on, rule on, challenge or
  oppose such application or permission.
    (b)  "Public  applicant  or  permittee"  shall mean any person who has
  applied for  or  obtained  a  permit,  zoning  change,  lease,  license,
  certificate  or  other entitlement for use or permission to act from any
  government  body,  or  any  person  with  an  interest,  connection   or
  affiliation  with  such  person  that  is  materially  related  to  such
  application or permission.
    (c) "Communication" shall mean any statement, claim, allegation  in  a
  proceeding,  decision,  protest,  writing, argument, contention or other
  expression.
    (d) "Government body" shall mean  any  municipality,  the  state,  any
  other  political  subdivision or agency of such, the federal government,
  any public benefit corporation,  or  any  public  authority,  board,  or
  commission.
    2.  In  an action involving public petition and participation, damages
  may only be recovered  if  the  plaintiff,  in  addition  to  all  other
  necessary  elements,  shall  have  established  by  clear and convincing
  evidence that any communication which gives rise to the action was  made
  with  knowledge  of its falsity or with reckless disregard of whether it
  was false, where the truth or falsity of such communication is  material
  to the cause of action at issue.
    3.   Nothing   in  this  section  shall  be  construed  to  limit  any
  constitutional, statutory or common law  protections  of  defendants  to
  actions involving public petition and participation.

  S 77.  Special damages in action for slander of a woman. In an action
  of slander of a woman imputing unchastity to her, it is not necessary to
  allege or prove special damages.

  S 78. Mitigating circumstances in action for libel or slander.  In an
  action  for  libel  or  slander  the  defendant  may  prove   mitigating
  circumstances,  including the sources of his information and the grounds
  for his belief, whether or not he has pleaded or attempted to prove  any
  defense.  A  defendant  in  default for want of an answer may prove such
  mitigating circumstances upon a reference or inquiry  to  ascertain  the
  amount  of  the  plaintiff's damages. Matter tending only to mitigate or
  reduce damages is a partial defense and may be set forth in the answer.

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