ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

December 22, 2006

2006.12.22: Report On Sean Bell Protests

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Friday, December 22, 2006 1:08 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Report On Sean Bell Protests

At yesterday’s Wall Street protest against the murder of Sean Bell, LAS legal observers included Afua Mensah-Atta, Lisa Edwards and Magda Rosa-Rios (CLO); and Reginald Haley, Michael Letwin and Steve Terry (CDD-Bklyn).

For photos and media coverage, see:


For photos of last Saturday’s protest on Fifth Ave., see:

December 15, 2006

2006.12.15: Antiwar Bulletin: 12.16 & 12.21–Protest Police Brutality

Filed under: Antiwar,Criminal Justice,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 11:42 am

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Friday, December 15, 2006 10:12 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Antiwar Bulletin: 12.16 & 12.21–Protest Police Brutality

ALAA and 1199 played a leading role in speaking out against racist police violence in our clients’ communities, including the murders of Amadou Diallo (1999) and Patrick Dorismond (2000).  Current protests against the murder of Sean Bell demand the same response.

To get involved, see below and/or contact ALAA Executive Board member Antonia Codling, 718.579.3124.

Sat., Dec. 16: March for Justice and Against Police Brutality

12 Noon (Gather at 59 Street and 5th Ave) March down 5th Ave

Civil rights, labor and community groups have called for a massive “March Against Police Brutality” this Saturday. The family of Sean Bell will lead the protest.

The TROOPS OUT NOW COALITION urges anti-war activists and all justice minded people to march against police killings and to demand justice for 23 year old Sean Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield.


The brutal killing of Sean Bell, who was gunned down by a hail of 50 bullets, and the trauma inflicted on Guzman and Benefield demands justice. Like Amadou Diallo, who was shot 19 times, Bell too was unarmed. They have joined a long list of police victims from every major city in the country.

Police terror is an every day occurrence in poor communities, particularly Black, Latino, Native and Asian. Youth are targeted by the police–whether it is abuse and harassment on the street, false arrests, and beatings or in this recent case being killed.

Gentrification is deepening in Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn, driving out workers to make room for the wealthy; unemployment is intensifying poverty and despair, with the unemployment rate of Black men in New York City close to 50%. The answer: epidemic police terror.


The racism whipped up against Arab, Muslim and people of Middle Eastern descent to justify the Iraq war and its brutal occupation-gives  a green light to all forms of racism and national oppression here at home. The war has also been used to justify all sorts of repression and violations of civil rights including the infamous Homeland Security Act and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The war abroad strengthens repression at home.

As the economic crisis intensifies with growing joblessness and homelessness; low-wages; lack of education; hospital closings and pension cuts–the system looks to scapegoat and whip up racism whether it’s against immigrant workers seeking their rights or youth in the Black community. Both have become the target rather than providing justice for all workers.

TONC has called for support of EVERY action against racism and police killings.

Look for the TONC banners and signs at the march. Come and help. We will be assembling signs and painting banners this Friday from 12 noon to 6 P.M. On Saturday morning at 10 A.M., meet us at Solidarity Center, 55 W. 17th Street 5th floor (between 5th and 6th Ave. A,C,E trains, 1,2,3, and also Union Square.)

Phone 212-633-6646 to volunteer.


Thursday, Dec. 21: ‘Day of Outrage, Shut Down Wall Street, Raymond Kelly Must Go!’

March will assemble at noon at Liberty Street and Nassau Street (One Chase Manhattan Plaza).

For more information: .

December 8, 2006

2006.12.08: Back to the issues (edited version)…

From: L.Antonia Codling
Sent: Friday, December 08, 2006 6:39 PM
Subject: Back to the issues (edited version)…

Sorry for the 2nd intrusion — This is the intended version of my previous email:

It is a sad day at ALAA…
It is a sad day, indeed, when a leader of the Executive Board sends a “call to action” for Civil, CLO/HCLO, Special Lit., PRP, JRD, CAB, CDD (did I leave anyone out?) to mobilize the members to organize around the issues in their offices, and that is viewed as a personal attack and turned into a “popularity contest” by the “leaders”.

The fact still remains, If ALAA — every member, delegate and VP in every Office/Division does not being to organize and prepare to fight and challenge whatever conditions affecting the members in our respective offices, when our K expires, we’ll be scrambling to decide how much of our benefits we’re willing to give up in 2008.

Make no mistake, the struggle for future contract negotiations for 2007 and beyond begins today in each of our offices.  Then, once our leaders come together, as a collective, ALAA can determine what is the 1 thing that binds the 800 of us together as a Union.

If a Union of 800 attorneys cannot come together around the question of present day conditions of caseload, the most glaring of which exists at Bx-JRD (a situation which I am unaware has ever existed), then it is a very sad day at ALAA.  The malpractice issues alone are frightening.

Our common struggles are won when we first resolve to change the conditions in our own offices, and then resolve to stand side-by-side with our brothers and sisters in other offices/Divisions.  If management is not aware that attorneys outside of JRD (or any office) are willing to go to the mat for some clients who have been tossed aside by The Legal Aid Society, then we will never win — we will never win any struggle if we are not willing to fight tooth and nail for our clients.

While it is important to know the history of the struggle around caseloads at JRD, the question still remains:  What are 800 attorneys prepared to do now that the bubble has burst at Bx-JRD.

Where is the fighting spirit of ALAA…
In the spirit of Bob Zuss, put down your ties and pick up your combat boots… because if 800 attorneys can’t go to battle for some our most vulnerable clients, then ALAA has lost its way.

In the spirit of Michelle Maxiam, if 800 attorneys cannot strategically decide the most politically feasible, legally expeditious way to wage a legal battle to obtain the resources so that current clients of LAS be assigned an attorney, then it is a dark day at ALAA.

If someone is more offended by a perceived personal attack than the fact that current clients don’t have an attorney assigned, then ALAA is in a sorry state of affairs.  If the leadership is afraid to step on its own toes, how can it face management, the Board, the State, the City, this society…

ALAA needs to find its way again.  Before it can, it needs to be revived with energetic, tough leadership.  If your Union delegate or VP is burnt out, afraid, doesn’t have the time — let him/her know you are ready and willing to take the baton of Union leadership to the next level.

I cannot sit calmly sit in my office and suffer defeat for some children who 5 days ago did not have an attorney, and no one in the leadership has called for an emergency meeting of ALAA, of management, the Board, OCA, elected officials, the community, or drafted a letter to an editor…

If nobody in ALAA feels this is a crisis and is not prepared to work night and day to bring short and long term solutions to the problem, then LAS and ALAA are doomed.

The one and only thing that distinguishes LAS from any scab organization is its Unions — that’s it.  Outside organizations, while they may not have as many offices and Divisions, they have created smaller law offices to handle their clients’ multi-faceted legal problems.  The unique quality of ALAA has historically been that we have been willing to fight for better conditions for ourselves and our clients.  We are losing our fighting spirit.  It is all but lost when leadership is more offended by a perceived personal attack than the fact that current clients don’t have an attorney assigned.

I salute the leadership and membership in Brooklyn CDD!  While they may not agree on everything, they have found the 1 issue around which they will organize, advocate and fight.  I wholeheartedly support the greivance — its critical analysis is directly on point, principled, forceful and inspirational!

Your ideas beyond the written words, if supported by the majority and strategically planned, could someday lead to success.  The question remains, what are the rest of us prepared to do?  Is our brother’s and our clients’ struggle for quality legal representation one we can claim as our own.

I refuse to back down from injustice.  The current crisis at BX-JRD is horrifying and unimaginable, as is the caseload crisis at Brooklyn CDD.
I choose not to accept the notion that there will never be adequate funding for mandated legal services for poor people.

December 6, 2006

2006.12.06: Protest Police Brutality

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 12:19 pm

From: Lucy Herschel
Sent: Wednesday, December 06, 2006 9:37 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Protest Police Brutality

Announcements below:
1)  Demonstration today at 4:30 at One Police Plaza
2) Panel in Harlem Friday featuring Yuseff Salaam and Margarita Rosario

This protest at 1PP today has been called by the December 12th Movement and publicized and promoted by many groups around the city:


NYC Police Are Out Of Control!
City-Wide Protest Demonstration
NYPD Headquarters
One Police Plaza, Downtown NYC

Wednesday, December 6, 2006 at 4:30pm

New York – The November 25th NYPD 50 bullet fusillade, resulting in the murder of unarmed Sean Bell, underscores the urgent need for a fundamental change in the NYC police department.  The NYPD has escalated its aggression toward the Black community across the city.   Community leaders are mobilizing a grassroots resistance movement to demand Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly rein in their rabid police force.

“Petty incidents like sitting on your front porch; or drinking an open beer or playing your music too loud in your yard at a family barbeque are treated like acts of terrorism.   Swarms of police descend on the hapless victim and the situation quickly escalates to police brutality, false arrests and imprisonment,” said Kamau Brown of Bedford Stuyvesant.  “It’s happening all over the city.    We have to back them up and the only way we can is to mobilize and organize against it together.  One by one we can’t win, but together we can.”

The December 12th Movement, a human rights organization, will lead a protest rally to  “Resist Fascism and the Rise of the American Police State,” on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 at 4:30pm at NYPD Headquarters – One Police Plaza, Downtown NYC.   Community activists, elected  officials, and grassroots community residents will speak out about what is happening “on the ground” in the domestic war zone.

The issues on the agenda include the police profiling of Black youth; NYPD / Homeland Security occupation of the Black community; police aggression, harassment and overkill, as well as President Bush’s assault on Habeas Corpus; the erosion of civil rights; and Iraq war for oil.

One block east of  One Centre Street Municipal Bldg., corner Chambers and Centre Streets
TRAINS: J, M, Z to Chambers St.; 4, 5, 6 to B`klyn Bridge-City Hall; R or weekday W to City Hall; 2, 3 to Park Pl.; A, C to Chambers or B`way-Nassau; N to Canal St.
BUSES M1, M9, M15, M22, B51

PANEL Friday

Bloomberg calls it “excessive”, we call it MURDER!
Stop NYPD Racist Terror

Panel Discussion with:

Yusef Salaam –  Wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in the Central Park jogger case

Margarita Rosario –  Founder of Parents Against Police Brutality.  The NYPD shot her son Anthony and a friend 14 times in the back.  They were both handcuffed and lying face down on the floor.

Brian Jones –  A political activist and school teacher in Harlem.  He is a member of the United Federation of Teachers and the International Socialist Organization.

Friday, December 8th
6:30 pm
St. Mary’s Church
(521 W. 126th, between Broadway and Amsterdam, 1/A/B/C/D to 125th Street)

On November 25th, five undercover NYPD officers, while not identifying themselves, surrounded the car of Sean Bell, Joseph Guzman, and Trent Benefield.  They then proceeded to unload 50 bullets into the car, killing Sean Bell, and critically injuring his friends Joseph and Trent.  The three were unarmed.  Sean was going to be married the next day.  This was not an accident, it was an execution.  Instead of apologies, the NYPD has responded with a racist withchunt for a mythical “4th man”.  WE NEED TO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE!

But we won’t get it by letting mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have their way.  The officers involved should go to jail.  Ray Kelly should be fired.  But even more, we need to rebuild a movement against racism, police brutality, and the criminal INjustice system.

Come to this meeting to voice your outrage, share your own stories and ideas, and discuss what it will take to fight back and win.

Sponsored by the International Socialist Organization.
Call 656-554-8592 or email  for more information.

December 5, 2006

2006.12.05: Grievances: Caseload, Mandatory Office Day, Flex Time…

From: L.Antonia Codling
Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2006 5:24 PM
Subject: Grievances: Caseload, Mandatory Office Day, Flex Time…

Now is the time (prior to the next K negotiation) for the members of this Union to let the delegates and leaders know what really matters to them.  I hope that at least one issue we will take a stand on is the unconsionable caseloads in some offices and Divisions.

In Bronx JRD, the caseloads are so high and the rate of attrition so great, that there are hundreds of client files that are presently unassigned to any staff attorney.  This is completely unacceptable!

I urge the Bronx JRD delegates, the JRD VP’s and the Executive Board to seek immediate remedy of this situation, which will only worsen in the next month as more attorneys are scheduled to leave this office.  This is a crisis situation that is at least equal to or surpasses the impending CDD RFP.  I am certain that LAS does not need the press to know that the hundreds of little Black and Brown babies and children do not have a law guardian…

The Legal Aid Society may conveniently excuse itself put caseload caps in our K because its funders will not agree to adequate funding (and because they want to maintain a monoply on being the biggest poverty pimps in NYC they choose to put quantity above quality representation)  — but ALAA must have a higher standard.  And, we must be prepared, at some point in our lifetime, to fight to obtain this higher standard.  Otherwise, we are no better than the “scab” organizations who do the same work as LAS.

The members and the delegates must let their VP’s know what is going on in the offices, and what really matters to them and their clients.  If nothing is being done to change the conditions, members should bring their problems directly to the Executive Board.  Otherwise, your leaders will lead other leaders to believe that issues are being dealt with, when clearly the are not.

Finally, Steve Banks must be cc’d on all grievances so he he fully aware of the situation in all of the offices.

Caseload Grievances Must be Filed
During bargaining, Steve Banks told us to rely on his testimony at the City Council regarding caseloads.  For JRD attorneys with a neglect and abuse caseload, you should carry no more than 100 children per attorney — not 100 cases).  If your caseload at JRD exceeds 100 children, you should ask your delegate/Union rep to file a greivance on your behalf.  Grievance forms were supposed to be available during the Union meetings that were held this week (what happened?).

Grievances for Mandatory Office Day –
See Sec. 4.5 of ALAA’s CBA – Collective Bargaining Agreement

If you are not getting 1 office day per week and need time during the hours of 9 – 5 p.m. to prepare for trials, hearings, motions, attend trainings, etc.  you should file a greivance pursuant to this section of the K.

Grievances for Flex time – (non-CDD Offices/Divisions) See Sec. 2.5.3 of ALAA’s CBA

This provision of the K was negotiated several years ago to allow attorneys who work late in court or have other nighttime work obligations, (we are only required to work 7 hours per day), to be able to come to work late the next day.  If the members are not utilizing this benefit that we fought so hard to obtain, we have no way to obtain increased benefits.

If you are fulfilling your nighttime work obligations and are unable to utilize this provision of the contract (either because of your caseload or because your supervisor is unfamiliar with provision of the K), you should request that your Union Rep or Delegate file a grievance on your behalf.

Feel free to contact me if you need assistance in filing any grievance.


December 4, 2006

2006.12.04: Legal Observer Meeting and Training – Tomorrow, 12/5

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Police Abuse — nyclaw01 @ 12:03 pm

From: L.Antonia Codling
Sent: Monday, December 04, 2006 2:32 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS

Another meeting for legal observers who will serve at the demonstration on Wednesday will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, 12/5 at 6 P.M. at the National Lawyers Guild Office located at: 132 Nassau Street, 9th Floor – National Office (4,5,6 Train to Brooklyn Bridge — near Pace University).

There will also be a legal observer training conducted by the NLG to begin at 6:30 (directly following the meeting).

If you are unable to attend tomorrow’s meeting/training but still wish to serve as a legal observer, please contact Roger Wareham, Esq. at 917.577.5012, Alejandro Beltran at 646.352.1804, or Antonia Codling at 718.579.3124.

Protest Police Murder & Brutality – One Police Plaza, NYC – Wednesday, Dec 6.



>>> L.Antonia Codling 12/01 1:41 PM >>>
Protest Police Murder & Brutality – One Police Plaza, NYC – Dec 6.

The organizers of this demonstration (flyer attached) are seeking legal observers to serve next Wednesday, 12/6.  The rally begins at 4:30 at 1 Police Plaza.

There is a meeting for legal observers this Sunday, 12/3 at 5 P.M. at SISTAS PLACE, 456 NOSTRAND AVENUE, BKLYN, NEW YORK (ON JEFFERSON).

If you have quesions, you may contact me (contact below), or Roger Wareham, Esq. at 917.577.5012



>>> <> 11/28 4:29 PM >>>

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