ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

February 10, 2009

2009.02.10: RE: ADA T. – any info @ unethical conduct?

Filed under: 1994 Strike,ALAA History,Criminal Justice,Funding,Key Documents,Scabs — nyclaw01 @ 11:29 am

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 11:29 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: RE: ADA [T.] – any info @ unethical conduct?

This isn’t about past grudges or who was here during the 1994 strike.

It’s just Union 101: Runaway shops are a dire threat to any union — whether or not you have friends who work there. These particular runaways are a past, current and future threat to our unions, our jobs, our compensation and our unique collective ability, as unionized defenders, to fight for our clients.

For those who are unaware of how these facts have played out, please see the February 5, 2008 open letter from one hundred union members, posted at:

Today more than ever, the scab defense contractors should not be legitimized or accepted, but abolished.

From: Morris, Susan
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 9:40 AM
To: 111-CDD
Subject: RE: ADA [T.] – any info @ unethical conduct?
I am hardly suggesting that we only approach those who work at the scab offices with a 10-foot pole.

We should not have them in our offices because it creates a chilling effec[T.]

We are not able to speak freely when they are around, and there are things in our own offices to which they should not be privy. Of course, this is an office which shares emails with judges so internal loyalty is obviously not something highly regarded by many of the folks here – which hurts our work and hurts our clients. (The very existence of alternate providers does damage to our clients.) For those who don’t value loyalty, I suppose having them in our offices is “no big deal.”

As for drinking at their parties – again this is a money issue. They have the money that should be going to a fully-funded legal aid society, and they spend it freely on “holiday booze” – something that any office with the responsibility for indigent defense should be ashamed to do.

As Azalia said, we have limited resources and we fight for the use of those resources daily – YES DAILY (ask Debbie Wright).

Let’s consider what’s best for our clients by remembering that we are a union shop and it is the power of the union attorneys and staff members that gets anything done around here. Flip answers and sarcastic responses do not further the fight for righteous and zealous representation.

So let’s think two or three times before we consider what is and isn’t appropriate in regard to the union-busting shops.


From: J.
Sent: Monday, February 09, 2009 5:55 PM
To:  111-CDD
Subject: RE: ADA [T.] – any info @ unethical conduct?

BDS, QLA, Bronx Defenders, and NY Defenders (or whatever their name is) were created by Giuliani to intimidate LAS in general and ALAA in particular. Giuliani diverted funds that would have otherwise gone to LAS, over to the alternate defenders. The purpose of these organizations is to hold a sword over the neck of LAS – to show us that the work could always be taken away from us if we do not march in step.

Yes, these organizations help the disadvantaged. But we do it better, don’t we? Don’t we have more resources? We are a fully integrated poverty-law provider. We can work in conjunction with our colleagues in civil, in PRDU, special lit, et al to provide optimal service to people who are disenfranchised. We have the ability & resources to make the system move – for instance, the writ taken a few weeks ago when the system was backed up. The talent and commitment of the people in this organization is spectacular. Wouldn’t the disadvantaged benefit more – as a whole – if the funds that are now going to BDS/QLA/Bx Def/NY Def were restored to the LAS budget?

I have nothing against the individuals who work for those organizations. I do have something against the organizations themselves. I think we all should.

From: Torres, Azalia
Sent: Monday, February 09, 2009 5:09 PM
To: 111-CDD
Subject: RE: ADA [T.]  – any info @ unethical conduct?

With all due respect, and I do mean that, your email misses the point of [M.’s] email. It is still mocking a point of principle when it comes to respecting what the experience of the creation of the scab groups did to your colleagues and continues to do to LAS. You always have the “free will” to do as you please re any scab group. However, we are a union and hopefully we can stand together in not facilitating anything for the structures created to make our lives miserable. If you feel so strongly about BDS’s need to have info, then do whatever you want as an individual. Don’t do it through our mutual resources or systems.

From: M.
Sent: Monday, February 09, 2009 5:01 PM
To: 111-CDD
Subject: RE: ADA [T.] – any info @ unethical conduct?

I have to preface this e-mail just by saying that I’ve only been at Legal Aid for 2 years, I obviously wasn’t here when the strike went down and the scab organizations grew up, I understand that obviously there are a lot of people in the office who were here and obviously having been here and actually having experienced the strike have much better informed opinions about it and are more passionate about it than I am. But I got into this business to represent poor people (primarily people of color) who are charged with crimes. I think it’s totally antithetical to that objective when we refuse to allow someone else who represents those same people to use any of our resources, particularly when both the marginal cost to LAS and relative benefit to BDS in terms of improving their bargaining position is nil (which under these circumstances I think it is).
That said, it’s my understanding that BDS’s softball team is a travesty. If there’s a good forum to go out and yell at everyone who works there and let them know they’re a bunch of scabs, their children are ugly, and they can’t parallel park well then that’s probably i[T.] And I went to BDS’s holiday party. It was fun. There was a bunch of free booze there and I got to see Judge Nadelson do the electric slide. I also went to our holiday party. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with going to the BDS holiday party as long as you attend ours. And as far as them attending our acquittal parties goes, as long as whoever is buying the booze is OK with that then hey, go ahead and invite whoever you wan[T.] And if anyone is ever sponsoring an acquittal party and someone from BDS shows up and you’re offended by that then just tell Richard Torres and he’ll happilly remove them.

From: M.
Sent: Monday, February 09, 2009 4:42 PM
To: 111-CDD
Subject: RE: ADA [T.]  – any info @ unethical conduct?

I hope that you are not saying that since you were in junior high when this terrible, devastating occurrence took place, it’s not worth thinking about now.

There are many of us who were at LAS when Lisa and others bid for our work when Rudy Giuliani, of all people, asked for bids for our cases. It really isn’t possible to give you an accurate picture of what that did to this organization and to all of us who remained here, but it truly was devastating in its effects. We are still clawing our way back from that awful place.

For those of you who weren’t there, there is no expectation for you to understand the situation in the same way that we do. But, on the other hand, isn’t it obvious that BDS is our main competitor for money from the City? They are the reason that our contract has such a heavy emphasis on arraignment numbers along with monetary penalties if we don’t fulfill our obligations. It’s an outrage.

That’s all I have to say–for now.

From: A.
Sent: Monday, February 09, 2009 4:18 PM
To: 111-CDD
Subject: RE: ADA [T.]  – any info @ unethical conduct?

Let’s not forget that our we are trying to maintain bad DA notes (by we I mean B.) – just a reminder that this information is helpful in general and be sure to share that info with B. at leas[T.] Regardless of whether you were here for the strike of 1990-something. I was in junior high. Also seems unlikely that we’ll put BDS out of business by refusing to drink their holiday alcohol (we’ll sure show them!) or by keeping this DA information to ourselves. A.
From: B.
Sent: Monday, February 09, 2009 3:37 PM
To: 111-CDD
Subject: ADA [T.] – any info @ unethical conduct?

If you have any information you can share please email Sydney Peck ASAP at BDS at:

Apparently there are some recent issues that have arisen regarding unethical conduct, and they are seeking to collect additional experiences.




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