The Third Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Mulvey, reversing Supreme Court, determined that defendant, a district attorney, could be prosecuted by the Attorney General (OAG) for perjury allegedly committed by the district attorney before a grand jury convened by the Attorney General. The grand jury was convened to investigate whether the district attorney had engaged in misconduct when investigating the police shooting of an unarmed civilian. The authority of the Attorney General’s investigation and indictment is Executive Law 63 and two Executive Orders issued by Gov. Cuomo:
Executive Law § 63 (13) provides that the Attorney General “shall . . . [p]rosecute any person for perjury committed during the course of any investigation conducted by the [A]ttorney[G]eneral pursuant to statute . . . [and] [i]n all such proceedings, the [A]ttorney[G]eneral may appear . . . before any court or any grand jury and exercise all the powers and perform all the duties necessary or required to be exercised or performed in prosecuting any such person for such offense.” * * *
Although Executive Law § 63 (2) permits and requires the Governor to define — in the pertinent executive order — the scope of OAG’s authority regarding a particular investigation or prosecution … , the investigation is still conducted pursuant to that statute, albeit within a scope defined by the executive order. The Legislature, by enacting Executive Law § 63 (2), statutorily gave power to the Governor to call upon OAG to conduct investigations. That the statute and executive order must necessarily work in tandem does not diminish or eliminate the statute as a source of authority for OAG to conduct the investigation.
Here, as typical under these situations, OAG obtained authority to conduct the 2017 grand jury investigation through a combination of Executive Law § 63 (2) and EO163. The statute gives OAG power, but only when the Governor “require[s]” OAG to act … . Relatedly, the Governor would have no authority to give powers to the Attorney General — through an executive order or otherwise — without the Legislature having granted the Governor that ability. Indeed, the Court of Appeals has noted “that the AttorneyGeneral has no general authority to conduct [criminal] prosecutions and is without any prosecutorial power except when specifically authorized by statute” … . Therefore, we reject the conclusion that the phrase “pursuant to statute” excludes investigations conducted by OAG pursuant to an executive order issued by the Governor under the authority granted to him by statute, namely, Executive Law § 63 (2). OAG’s authority to investigate defendant was derived from that statute, at least indirectly through the conduit of an executive order issued thereunder. People v Abelove, 2019 NY Slip Op 08453, Third Dept 11-21-19