ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

December 17, 2010

2010.12.17: 5 p.m. Today @CNN: Cover the Georgia Prisoners Strike

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Prisoners' Rights — nyclaw01 @ 9:54 am

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2010 9:54 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: 5 p.m. Today @CNN: Cover the Georgia Prisoners Strike

Emergency Demonstration
FRIDAY, Dec 17, 5 to 6pm


CNN HQ in NYC — 59th St & 10 Columbus Circle
(Subways A, B, C, D, 1)

Tell CNN: “Cover the prisoners’ demands of the largest prison strike in U.S. history.”

For over week, since December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners have refused to work, stopped all activities and locked down in their cells in a peaceful protest for their human rights. It is urgent to support this heroic act of resistance to inhuman prison conditions and racism.

CNN headquarters is based in Atlanta Georgia. CNN, owned by Time Warner, is one of the largest media conglomerates in the world. As of Dec 16, CNN and most of the major corporate media has censored this historic struggle for human rights. Demand of CNN:

STOP the censorship! Report on the Strike!

Thousands of men, from Augusta, Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons went on strike to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (“DOC”) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights.  Prisons in the U.S. are not rehabilitation centers; in reality, they are concentration camps for the poor and people of color.

The prisoners set forth the following demands:

* a living wage for work

* educational opportunities

* decent health care

* an end to cruel and unusual punishments

* decent living conditions

* nutritional meals

* vocational and self-improvement opportunities

* access to families

* just parole decisions

While the prisoners were non-violent, the DOC violently attempted to force the men back to work — claiming it was “lawful” to order prisoners to work without pay, in defiance of the 13th Amendment’s abolition of slavery.

Inmate leaders, Black, Latino, white, Muslim, Rastafarian, Christian, have united together and vowed to strike until their demands are addressed. Together, using cell phones they coordinated this state-wide prison strike.

CNN, other media and elected officials have already received thousands of email messages of concern from an internationally circulated petition:­gaprisonstrikepetition

Sign the petition, attend the emergency demonstration and help spread the word of support and solidarity with the Georgia prisoners strike

Called by: International Action Center, 55 West 17th Street, NY, NY 10011     212-633-6646

December 16, 2010

2010.12.16: 7 p.m. Tonight: Personal Stories of Preemptive Prosecution Part II

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2010 9:16 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: 7 p.m. Tonight: Personal Stories of Preemptive Prosecution Part II

Personal Stories of Preemptive Prosecution Part II: A Call to Action!

Thursday December 16, 2010

7:00 PM

Furman Hall, NYU, 245 Sullivan Street, Room 216 (see map below)

Free Admission

…ID required

RSVP greatly appreciated for attendance, childcare or access needs. Contact:

The time for speeches is over! Join us for the 1st ever Town Hall meeting with family members of wrongly convicted terror-suspects post-9-11.

Justice is still needed for these cases and this event will be for individuals wanting to learn what they can do to assist these families in receiving their constitutional rights. Each family will briefly discuss the current status of their loved one’s case.

As a grassroots coalition of affected families, solidarity activists/organizations, and concerned community members, we will then determine what efforts are needed for each case, and set action items to work as a community to respond to the injustice that comes with preemptive prosecutions, often perpetuated by FBI agent provocateurs.

This event is for you, your rights, your freedoms…

The time for feeling helpless is over,

it’s time to act,

get involved,

share resources,

and work to bring justice for all!

This will be a forum where all are welcome to collaborate and contribute to develop solutions.

Attendees will include:

El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan, Director of Operations for The Peace and Justice Foundation – a Muslim led grassroots human rights organization based in Metropolitan Washington, DC

Alicia Mc Williams, aunt of David Williams, one of the Newburgh Four, the men charged with the attempted bombing of the Riverdale Temple.

Lejla Duka, 12 year old family member of the Fort Dix Five.

Faisal Hashmi, brother of Fahad Hashmi, who has been charged with providing material aid to Al-Qaeda

Lynne Jackson, a volunteer and one of the founders of Project Salam, an internet group that believes many innocent Muslims were targeted, prosecuted, and convicted in the hysteria following 9/11 and the Bush Administration’s violations of the US Constitution. The organization’s mission is to identify as many of these cases as possible, to advocate for their release, and to make sure that their names and the injustices against them are not forgotten.

Noor Elashi, Daughter of Ghassan Elashi of the Holy Land 5.

Siana Kaziu, Sister of Betim Kaziu

Dominick Calsolaro, Albany Common Council Member sponsored and help pass a resolution in the Albany, NY City Council entitled “Resolution Urging The U.S. Department Of Justice To Review The Convictions Of Muslims Who Were “Preemptively Prosecuted” To Ensure Their Fair Treatment Under The U.S. Constitution And Bill Of Rights.”

Marlene Jenkins, mother of Tarik Shaw

Elizabeth McWilliams, mother of David Williams

Laila Yaghi, mother of Ziyad Yaghi from the Raleigh 7 case in North Carolina

Sharmin Sadequee, sister of Shifa Sadequee

Shaheena Parveen, mother of Siraj Matin

Other family members and lawyers from these entrapment cases will be present.

Please RSVP for childcare or access needs.


Sponsored by: WESPAC, Malcom X grassroots, DRUM, Project Salam, Justice for the Newburgh 4 Committee, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU Law School, Pakistan Solidarity Network, Preemptive Prosecution Coalition

Map for Furman Hall:

December 14, 2010

2010.12.14: Support Georgia Prisoners Strike

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Prisoners' Rights — nyclaw01 @ 6:30 pm

From:   Letwin, Michael
Sent:  Tuesday, December 14, 2010 6:30 PM
To:  1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject:  Support Georgia Prisoners Strike

Background information at:


Show your support and concern for the prisoners’ well being by contacting the wardens of the following Georgia State Prisons.

Macon State Prison: 978-472-3900.

Hays State Prison: 706-857-0400

Telfair State prison: 229-868-7721

Baldwin State Prison: 478-445- 5218

Valdosta State Prison: 229-333-7900

Smith State Prison: 912-654-5000

The Georgia Department of Corrections: 478-992-5246, <>

Contact the Georgia Governor through his online form. <,2657,78006749_94820188,00.html>

If you create action tools: posters, videos, steps, etc.  Please email us and we will post them here:  <>

You can add video and audio content to this campaign by clicking here  <> and following the steps outlined.

If you live in GA and would like to work with us to gather video content please contact us at  <>

Member of Change.Org, you can sign their online petition. <>

The International Action Center also has a petition up.   <,0>

Learn more about  <>

December 10, 2010

2010.12.10: Tonight 7 p.m.: “War on Terror” Continues at Home and Abroad

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, December 10, 2010 9:36 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Tonight 7 p.m.: “War on Terror” Continues at Home and Abroad

The Violation of Human Rights: The “War on Terror” Continues at Home and Abroad

A Forum and Discussion

Friday, December 10th

7 pm – 9 pm

Judson Memorial Church, Assembly Hall

55 Washington Square South

New York, NY

Join the NYC Coalition to Stop Islamophobia on Friday, December 10th, for an eye-opening panel presentation and open discussion about how fear and anti-Muslim bigotry is mobilized to enable political prosecution, entrapment, targeted assassinations, indefinite and abusive detentions, and unjust occupations of Muslim & Arab countries, while at home we face the rise in Islamophobia. Hear speakers who will present different perspectives, from attorneys to activists.


Pardiss Kebriaei, staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, is challenging the Obama administration’s targeted assassination order on Anwar Awlaki, an American citizen residing in Yemen. The lawsuit brought by Awlaki’s father seeks a court order enjoining the President from assassinating his son with no due process. Ms. Kebriaei will discuss this case, as well as the “state secrets” argument presented by the Obama administration’s continuing justification of the Bush doctrine.

Lamis J. Deek, is an attorney and human rights advocate specializing in defending Arab & Muslim community members, activists and organizers against governmental attack. Lamis is a long time member of Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, the Arab Muslim American Federation, and the National Lawyers Guild. She is co-founder of the US Palestine Community Network.

Lynne Jackson, is a volunteer, president and one of the founders of Project SALAM — a group that believes hundreds of innocent Muslims were targeted, prosecuted, and convicted in the hysteria following 9/11 using the FBI’s and the Justice Dept. new paradigm of prevention. Ms. Jackson will identify tactics used in preemptive prosecution, discuss cases prosecuted in the federal courts, and their effect and excessive sentences on families; also she will discuss recent trial & conviction of the Newburgh 4.

Nima Shirazi is a political commentator from New York City. He is a contributing columnist for Foreign Policy Journal and Palestine Think Tank. His analysis of United States policy and Middle East issues, particularly with reference to current events in Iran, Israel, and Palestine, can also be found in numerous other online and print publications, as well as his website,

Sponsored by: Project Salam, UNAC, World Can’t Wait, IJAN

December 9, 2010

2010.12.09: Today: Tell US Attorney to call off the grand jury witch hunt

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2010 9:09 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Today: Tell US Attorney to call off the grand jury witch hunt


Call Off the Grand Jury Witch-hunt Against Anti-war and Solidarity Activists!

Stop FBI Repression!

Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300, dial 0 (zero) for operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk (paralegal).

Suggested script:

“My name is __________, I am calling U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to demand that he call off the Grand Jury and stop FBI repression against the anti-war and international solidarity movements. I oppose political repression and defend the right to free speech and right to assembly of the 17 activists subpoenaed.”


Fitzgerald Expands Repression with 3 New Subpoenas in Chicago

Under the direction of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office, the FBI is expanding their repression of anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists in Chicago. On Friday, December 3, 2010, the FBI targeted three young women who traveled together to Palestine last summer. After the FBI called to question a young Jewish-American woman, Sarah Smith, FBI agents knocked on the door of two young Palestinian-American sisters. One sister was already on the phone with lawyer Jim Fennerty and handed the phone to the FBI, causing the FBI to leave. The FBI agents soon returned with subpoenas to the Grand Jury targeting anti-war and solidarity activists, dated for January 25, 2011. The three are standing strong with the other 14 subpoenaed activists from Illinois, Minneapolis and Michigan. Over 100 people protested in Chicago on Monday against the expanding repression.

Help Keep 3 Minneapolis Women Out of Jail

Fitzgerald’s new wave of repression comes a week after the re-activation of subpoenas for three Palestine solidarity activist women in Minneapolis. Tracy Molm, Anh Pham and Sarah Martin are being asked to appear before the Grand Jury again, despite refusing to speak in October. In Minneapolis and other cities a week of actions demanded “Protest to keep Anh, Tracy, and Sarah, out of jail!” Lawyers for each of the three are meeting with Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox this week. However, on orders from Fitzgerald’s office, the FBI shenanigans continue with visits to anti-war activist’s homes.

So please stand with the 17 subpoenaed anti-war and solidarity activists and make a phone call to Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300.

Also, please sign and circulate our petition at

For more information visit or write to or call 612-379-3585.

December 7, 2010

2010.12.07: Antiwar Calendar

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2010 1:09 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Antiwar Calendar

Weds, Dec. 8-Mon., Dec. 13
Black Panther Party Film Festival
“A showcase of films combining archival footage of the Black Panthers from the 60’s with modern documentaries that concern the legacy of the Black Panthers and current issues such as the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

Thurs., Dec. 9, 6-7 p.m.
No to Jewish National Fund’s pinkwashing of Israeli apartheid — Protest launch of their new LGBT committee
“We stand in support of both LGBT rights and an end to Israeli apartheid. We therefore condemn the JNF’s tokenizing of the long fought for rights of LGBT communities for the purposes of erasing the ongoing struggle for the rights of Palestinians.”

Thurs., Dec. 9, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
1848 is 1948 | Poetic Echoes of Endurance from Palestine to Latin America
“How can spoken word and the art of poetry be utilized to raise awareness about global human rights abuses and the struggles of oppressed groups of people? Spoken word was born from hip-hop culture, which emerged as an innovative artistic form in the late 1970s in New York City.”

Fri., Dec. 10, Noon-1 p.m.
Day of Action against Caterpillar
“Join over 18,000 people of conscience who have already signed the petition to ask TIAA-CREF to stop investing in companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

Fri, Dec. 10, 7-9 p.m.
The Violation of Human Rights:  The “War on Terror” Continues at Home and Abroad
“An eye-opening panel presentation and open discussion about how fear and anti-Muslim bigotry is mobilized to enable political prosecution, entrapment, targeted assassinations, indefinite and abusive detentions, and unjust occupations of Muslim & Arab countries, while at home we face the rise in Islamophobia.

Thurs. Dec. 16, 7 p.m.
Personal Stories of Preemptive Prosecution Part II: A Call to Action
“Town Hall meeting with family members of wrongly convicted terror-suspects post-9-11. Respond to the injustice that comes with preemptive prosecutions, often perpetuated by FBI agent provocateurs.”

December 3, 2010

2010.12.03: PRISONER HOLIDAY CARD-WRITING PARTY!! Save the date…

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Prisoners' Rights,Racism,Sentencing — nyclaw01 @ 1:17 pm

From:  Kurti, Rebecca
Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 1:17 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS


Join the Campaign to End the Death Penalty for Our Annual Prisoner Holiday Card-Writing Party!!

Each year we get together to celebrate the year’s victories in our struggle against capital punishment and the prison system…and to send holiday greetings to those victimized by it.

Come one, come all, for food, fun, guest speakers & card signing…

Yippie Museum & Café

Monday, December 20

7-9 PM

9 Bleecker Street (between Bowery and Elizabeth), Manhattan

$10 suggested donation – includes refreshments and contribution to stamps & greeting cards. No one turned away.


2010.12.03: RE: BDS rumors

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 12:04 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: RE: BDS rumors

The blacklist list, for those who couldn’t access the site below:

April 16, 2008
Union Members Protest Award to Schreibersdorf

The undersigned one hundred union members at The Legal Aid Society protest the New York State Bar Association’s selection of Lisa Schreibersdorf to receive the Michele S. Maxian Award for Outstanding Public Defense Practitioner (Brooklyn Eagle, Feb. 5, 2008,

Maxian, who died in 2006, was a Legal Aid Society attorney who selflessly dedicated her career to strengthening and improving indigent criminal defense.

Because of her efforts, the NYPD was ordered to arraign criminal defendants within 24 hours of arrest. She frequently testified in support of criminal justice reform. And she tenaciously defended the Society against Rudolph Giuliani, who slashed Legal Aid funding in retaliation for a 1994 strike by the Society’s attorneys (Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325) and support staff (1199SEIU).

Yes, Schreibersdorf too once worked at The Legal Aid Society. Unlike Maxian, however, Schreibersdorf and several other of our former colleagues responded to Giuliani’s attack by setting up a nonunion contractor, Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS), which successfully bid for millions of dollars cut from the unionized Society.

In this, she was joined by Appellate Advocates (Second Department), Bronx Defenders, Center for Appellate Litigation (First Department), Queens Law Associates, New York County Defenders Association, and Battiste, Aronowsky & Suchow (Staten Island).

Together, these bidders — most of them by former Legal Aid staff members — played the critical role of legitimizing Giuliani’s destructive union-busting and “competitive bidding” in indigent defense.

Schreibersdorf sought to whitewash her role by claiming that Giuliani’s policies were good for Legal Aid staff and clients: “Brooklyn Defender Services’ entry into the court system has even lightened the load of the Legal Aid Society’s attorneys who . . . are overworked and underpaid . . . [They] are now able to more effectively represent their own clients.”[1]

More candidly, Schreibersdorf admitted, “I don’t have any grudge against Legal Aid . . . [b]ut. . . . [t]he city is making this offer and we’re taking it.”[2]

While management at the nonunion contractors has profited, Legal Aid staff and clients have paid the price: deep personnel cuts, sharply-escalating workloads and near-institutional bankruptcy. As the New York Times reported in 2001, Giuliani’s cuts — which by then totaled a cumulative $160 million — had “hobbled” the Society.[3]

In 2006, a report to Chief Judge Judith Kaye reiterated that finding, and concluded that Giuliani’s competitive bidding policy had predictably fragmented and weakened the entire indigent defense system in New York City. It also reported declining conditions for line staff at the nonunion contractors.[4]

Rather than take any responsibility for helping to bring this about, Schreibersdorf disparages her former colleagues: “I left Legal Aid in the mid nineties. In my opinion, it’s not the same place it was.”[5]

In 2008, Schreibersdorf has added insult to injury by shamelessly trading on her past connection with the Society. But the honor belongs to Legal Aid staff, who — despite these continuing attacks — have sought to defend the quality of indigent representation that Schreibersdorf and her confederates have helped to undermine.

Please forward this letter to all NYSBA officials.

(In an individual capacity; no organizational endorsement implied)

Michael Letwin (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Azalia Torres (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Eric Megett (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Adrian Lesher (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Steve Kliman (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Steve Terry (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Fred Pratt (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Steve Sindos (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Estajo Koslow (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Margaret McClean (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Steven Plotkin (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Gregory C. Williams (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)*
Julie Fry (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Daniella Korotzer (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Robyn Lear (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Judith Karpatkin (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Noha Arafa (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Ivan Pantoja (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Melissa Kanas (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Marisa Benton (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Femi Disu (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Jeffrey Sugarman (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Dana Cohen (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Joshua Scheier (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Steven Levine (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Susan Litt (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Tara Shakur (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Susan O. Morris (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Matthew Caretto (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Laurie Dick (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Jill Waldman (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Brian Hutchinson (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Victoria L. Eby (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Andrea Gordon (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Allison Jordan (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Richard Torres (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Bryan Coakley (Criminal Defense-Queens)*
Jacob Rolls (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Raoul Zaltzberg (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Alexander Smith (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Davim Horowitz (Criminal Defense-Manhattan)
Bahar Mirhosseini (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Shannon Stallings (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Daniel Moore (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Kathryn Liverani (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Tasha N. Lloyd (Criminal Defense-Bronx)
Patricia Gil (Civil-Queens)
Margarita Menuar (Civil-Harlem)
Keisha A. Godfrey (Criminal Defense-Queens)
Bahar Ansari (Juvenile Rights-Bronx)
Marla Grossman (Criminal Defense-Queens)*
Emily Kane (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Michael Baldwin (Criminal Defense-Manhattan)
Dale A. Wilker (Prisoners’ Rights Project)*
Sydney O’Hagan (Criminal Defense-Manhattan)
Christina Giardino (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Leigh Latimer (Criminal Defense-Queens)*
Marianne Allegro (Juvenile Rights-Manhattan)*
Carol Hochberg (Juvenile Rights-Queens)*
Melissa Loehr (Criminal Defense-Bronx)
Bridgett Holloman (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Justin L. Haines (Civil-Bronx)
Meighan McSherry (Criminal Defense-Bronx)
Kristin Bruan (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Florence Morgan (Criminal Defense-Queens)*
David Affler (Criminal Defense-Manhattan)*
Alison Webster (Criminal Defense-Bronx)*
Albert Wall (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Mary Ross (Criminal Defense-Queens)
Stephanie Kaplan (Criminal Defense-Manhattan)*
Deborah Hill (Criminal Defense-Manhattan)
Elizabeth Felber (Criminal Defense-Bronx)*
Roslyn Morrison (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Laura Boyd (Criminal Appeals)*
Chandra Gomes (Criminal Defense-Queens)*
Todd Smith (Juvenile Rights-Brooklyn)
E. Grace Park (Juvenile Rights-Brooklyn)
Warren Deans (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Michael Taglieri (Criminal Appeals)*
Thomas Johnson (Criminal Defense-Queens)*
Tara Collins (Criminal Defense-Manhattan)
Antoinette Costanzo (Criminal Defense-Manhattan)*
Heidi Bota (Criminal Appeals)
David Ocasio (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Lucy Herschel, (Criminal Defense-Queens)
Rebecca Kurti (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Cory Walker (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
Myra Alcarese (Juvenile Rights-Queens)
Norah Bowler (Juvenile Rights-Queens)
John Hirsch (Criminal Defense-Manhattan)
Lori Masco (Juvenile Rights-Brooklyn)
Kerry Elgarten (Criminal Appeals)*
Ruthlyn Belnavis (Juvenile Rights-Manhattan)
Mily Garcia (Criminal Defense-Brooklyn)
W. Joseph J. Hochberg (Juvenile Rights-Brooklyn)
Terence Davidson (Criminal Defense-Administration)
Joshua Goldfein (Civil-Homeless Rights Project)*
Amelia McGovern (Criminal Defense-Manhattan)*
Richard DiMarco (Criminal Defense-Manhattan)*
Lisa Edwards (Civil-Harlem)*

*1994 strike veteran


1. Affirm. of Lisa Schreibersdorf (July 16, 1996), Legal Aid Society v. NYC, No. 603291-96 (Sup Ct., NY Co.).

2. Goldstein, 12 Bidders Seek to displace Legal Aid; Proposals to be Screened By City Agency by Jan. 17, NYLJ, January 9, 1996.

3. Fritsch & Rohde, For New York City’s Poor, a Lawyer With 1,600 Clients, N.Y. Times, April 9, 2001, <; .

4. Status of Indigent Defense in New York: A Study for Chief Judge Kaye’s Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense Services, Final Report (The Spangenberg Group, June 16, 2006), at 154,

5. In the Matter of the New York State Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense Services (May 12, 2005), at 198,

2010.12.03: RE: BDS rumors

Filed under: 1994 Strike,Criminal Justice,Funding,Indigent Defense,Scabs — nyclaw01 @ 9:56 am

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 9:56 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: RE: BDS rumors

The blacklist [A.] references, with essential background about BDS and other the runaway (non-union), scab (strike-breaker) contractors (Appellate Advocates, Bronx Defenders, Center for Appellate Litigation, Queens Law Associates, New York County Defenders Association) that are being awarded ever greater portions of LAS funding:

2010.12.03: NYLJ: City Alters Distribution of Cases for Indigent Criminal Defendants

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 9:48 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: NYLJ: City Alters Distribution of Cases for Indigent Criminal Defendants

City Alters Distribution of Cases for Indigent Criminal Defendants

Daniel Wise


The distribution of indigent criminal defense cases among the groups that serve as primary providers in New York City has been significantly altered by the Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator.

Based on figures the office has released to the groups, the Legal Aid Society will be responsible for 20,000 fewer cases, and five of the remaining six groups will receive 54,000 more.

The one group that lost out in the bidding for renewal contracts is Staten Island Defense Services, which for the past 14 years has been the primary defender of indigent cases in Richmond County.

The Staten Island group’s annual caseload of roughly 9,000 will be folded into the Legal Aid contract, Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt said in an interview.

Legal Aid, however, will likely receive an influx of cases that the defender groups are unable to handle due to conflicts.

Mr. Feinblatt said he could not comment on the decision not to award a contract to Staten Island Defenders, saying the decision was “the result of [a] competitive bidding process.”

Paul A. Battiste, a founder of the Staten Island group, said after having provided quality services for more than 13 years, “we put in a proposal and were hopeful we would received a renewal, but we didn’t.”

Mr. Feinblatt said that while the distribution of primary cases has been settled, no decision has been made as to the amount of funding the groups will receive. He said his office plans to complete the contracts as soon as possible but could not commit to a deadline. Five of the six groups have had their existing contracts extended until June 30, 2011.

The groups that serve as primary providers are responsible for picking up the contracted number of cases at arraignment shifts they are assigned to cover. The total number of primary cases to be handled in the next round of contracts is 329,000, an increase of 8 percent above the number handled under existing contracts.

The flashpoint in this year’s bidding process, however, has been the roughly 44,000 conflict cases that have up to now been handled by 1,100 private practitioners in New York City at an annual cost of $47.8 million. The private lawyers are paid from municipal funds under Article 18-B of the County Law.

In February, the city put out for bid the contracts that had been awarded to the seven defender groups since 2002 and extended several times since then. The requests for the first time solicited proposals to handle conflict cases (NYLJ, Feb. 10).

In June, five county bar associations filed a suit, New York County Lawyers’ Association v. Bloomberg, 107216/10, to block the city from soliciting bids from defense groups to handle conflict cases (NYLJ, June 4). Oral argument before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Anil Singh is scheduled for Dec. 15.

Pending Justice Singh’s ruling on the merits of the case, the city has agreed not to award contracts for conflict cases, but it remains free to issue contracts for primary cases.

Conflict Cases for Legal Aid

Legal Aid, however, is in line to receive at least some of the conflict cases that had been assigned to private lawyers. In a brief filed on Monday supporting its application to intervene in the 18-B litigation, Legal Aid disclosed that the city has indicated an intent to assign to it a “significant number” of conflict cases.

In asking to intervene, the Legal Aid brief contended that the organization is being harmed by the delay in awarding conflict contracts.

With the city only permitted to allocate primary cases, Steven Banks, Legal Aid’s attorney-in-chief, warned in an affirmation, Legal Aid will be left “with insufficient funding to maintain its operations and staffing.”

The process “needs to be completed immediate[ly],” Mr. Banks said, so that Legal Aid can “be properly funded” and “avert the staffing reductions and client service cutbacks that the Society will otherwise have to implement immediately.”

According to Mr. Feinblatt, Legal Aid, which handled about 230,000 cases in the fiscal year that ended last June 30, will be required to handle 210,000 cases under its new contract.

Read in conjunction with Mr. Feinblatt’s disclosure on Legal Aid’s caseload, the clear thrust of Mr. Banks’ comments is that the agency needs to receive 20,000 conflict cases to make up for the deficit without hemorrhaging either staff or services.

Robin Steinberg, the executive director of the Bronx Defenders, said she has had no discussions with the city about conflict cases. Similarly, Lisa Schreibersdorf, the executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services, said she did not expect any conflict cases.

Both groups’ caseloads will more than double when the new contracts are awarded. The Bronx Defenders’ caseload will rise to 28,000 from 12,500 and Brooklyn Defender Services to 38,000 from 18,000.

Ms. Schreibersdorf said the Brooklyn group will be able to bring on board attorneys with expertise in immigration and other collateral consequences of convictions. Ms. Steinberg said her group is pleased to be able to offer its services to an “even greater number of people from this desperately underserved community.”

Caseload to Nearly Triple

Another big winner in the competition for city contracts is Neighborhood Defender Services, which has never been funded through the mayor’s executive budget. For the first time, Mr. Feinblatt said, a contract will be offered to the group, which serves Harlem and most of the rest of northern Manhattan and has been funded after annual negotiations between the City Council and the mayor.

Under the new contract, funding for the neighborhood defenders will increase to $4.8 million a year from $3 million and the number of cases it will be responsible for handling will expand to 10,000 from 3,500 a year.

The new contract also will relieve the Legal Aid Society of the open-ended obligation to handle 88 percent of cases calendared on its arraignment shifts, Mr. Feinblatt said. The change will put Legal Aid on the same footing as the other providers who will all be required to handle a set number of cases per year.

Mr. Banks said the change is “an important step to get us out from under a literally limitless obligation to accept cases at a set price which resulted in excessive caseloads for our staff.”

Queens Law Associates will see its caseload increase to 25,000 from 15,000, and New York County Defender Services to take on 18,000 cases from 16,000.

Mr. Battiste, of the Staten Island defender group, said his chief concern is that there be “as seamless a transition as possible with Legal Aid” to avoid disruption of client services.

He also said he has begun contacting other defender groups, urging them to hire his 15 lawyers and 13 support staff who will be losing their jobs.

“The staff is very experienced, capable, well trained and familiar with processes in Staten Island,” he said.

@|Daniel Wise can be contacted at

The heads of two of the groups that received the largest increase in primary cases both said they do not expect to receive conflict cases.

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