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Spitzer resignation casts shadow over law reforms

[JURIST] The resignation [statement text] of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer [JURIST news archive] Wednesday following disclosure of his involvement with a prostitution ring subject to a federal wiretap [criminal complaint, PDF] has interrupted and potentially compromised a series of law reform initiatives championed by the former state attorney general. Among the most prominent of those is a bill to legalize gay marriage in New York passed by the state Assembly [JURIST report] last June but still stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. Also affected is the Spitzer-sponsored Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act [JURIST report; NY Daily News report] that would affirm and advance abortion rights in the state. The future of Spitzer proposals on state campaign finance laws and legislative districts is similarly uncertain. Spitzer's resignation also retrospectively casts a shadow over his vigorous but controversial campaign against corporate fraud [WSJ report], mostly conducted during his term as attorney general from 1998-2006. The New York Times has more.

One piece of legislation that may now ironically stand out as an unanticipated highlight of Spitzer's administration is a statute on human trafficking [text] that went into effect November 1. Among other things, the law increased the state penalty for persons patronizing a prostitute [NYT report] to a year in jail up from a maximum of three months. Spitzer signed the legislation last year shortly after taking office as governor. He has not yet been charged with any crime under state or federal law [Mann Act text].

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