The First Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Higgitt, determined the petitioner’s request for a writ of prohibition to enjoin the attorney general (AG) from prosecuting him for alleged criminal offenses should be granted. The request for the prosecution came from a judge. Executive Law 63(3) does not authorize a request for prosecution from the judicial, as opposed to the executive, branch:
This CPLR article 78 proceeding seeking a writ of prohibition raises an issue of apparent first impression: whether the Attorney General may criminally prosecute an individual based on an Executive Law § 63(3) referral from the Chief Administrative Judge of the Unified Court System. Executive Law § 63(3) authorizes the Attorney General of the State of New York, “[u]pon request of the governor, comptroller, secretary of state, commissioner of transportation, superintendent of financial services, commissioner of taxation and finance, commissioner of motor vehicles, or the state inspector general, or the head of any other department, authority, division or agency of the state,” to investigate and prosecute criminality relating to any matter connected with the referring entity. Petitioner, the subject of the criminal prosecution initiated and maintained by the AG based on the purported Executive Law § 63(3) referral by an officer within the Unified Court System, commenced this special proceeding for a writ of prohibition challenging the validity of the referral and the legality of the AG’s authority to prosecute him. We hold that an Executive Law § 63(3) referral can come only from an agency within the executive branch. Therefore, a referral from an officer within the Unified Court System — that is, the judicial branch of government — is not permitted by the statute, and, for the reasons discussed below, we grant prohibition relief to petitioner. Matter of Makhani v Kiesel, 2022 NY Slip Op 06556, First Dept 11-17-22
Practice Point: The attorney general can bring a criminal prosecution only upon request from an executive agency listed in Executive Law 63(3). Here the chief judge made the request. A writ of prohibition enjoining the prosecution was granted.