ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

June 3, 2016

FYI: Defense lawyers say Las Vegas judge ‘was wrong’ to handcuff attorney — VIDEO

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, June 03, 2016 10:05 AM
Subject: FYI: Defense lawyers say Las Vegas judge ‘was wrong’ to handcuff attorney — VIDEO

 

(Used to happen here too*)

 

http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/defense-lawyers-say-las-vegas-judge-was-wrong-handcuff-attorney-video

 

Posted  May 26, 2016 – 6:50pm Updated  May 26, 2016 – 8:14pm

Defense lawyers say Las Vegas judge ‘was wrong’ to handcuff attorney — VIDEO

Zohra Bakhtary (LinkedIn) Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen is shown on the bench on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. (Ronda Churchill/Las Vegas Review-Journal) Zohra Bakhtary (Courtesy Zohra Bakhtary)
image

RELATED

Handcuffed public defender says she simply wanted judge to listen to her argument

Las Vegas judge handcuffs public defender in courtroom

By DAVID FERRARA
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

A group of Clark County defense attorneys is backing a colleague who was handcuffed in Las Vegas Justice Court this week.

On Monday, Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen directed a court marshal to restrain Deputy Public Defender Zohra Bakhtary in his courtroom. The Clark County Defenders Union criticized the judge’s actions Thursday in a letter to news outlets.

“Judge Hafen improperly handcuffed one of our public defenders simply for doing her job,” according to the letter, signed by a 12-member board of directors. “His actions were unreasonable and unprecedented. Judge Hafen was wrong.”

The union represents about 105 lawyers from the Clark County public defender’s and special public defender’s offices, said its president, Ryan Bashor.

A surveillance video made public Thursday shows Hafen pointing to a court marshal and then at Bakhtary, standing at the defense table in Courtroom 6A. The video does not capture any audio.

Court transcripts indicate that Hafen told Bakhtary to “be quiet,” as she tried to argue that a man facing larceny charges should not be thrown behind bars. After Bakhtary tried to speak, the judge asked her if she wanted to be found in contempt.

There was a brief exchange between the judge and lawyer before the marshal approached Bakhtary, who placed her hands behind her back, and put her in handcuffs. Bakhtary was led out of the frame, while the defendant, Daniel Fernandez, stood alone in a white, short-sleeved shirt at the defense table.

Moments later the same marshal walked up behind the defendant and took him into custody. Fernandez was ordered to serve six months in jail for a larceny charge that he picked up after being ordered to perform community service on other similar charges.

“Go ahead and un-cuff Zohra,” the judge then stated, according to court transcripts. “I think she’s learned a lesson.”

The defense group wrote that with Bakhtary in handcuffs, Fernandez was denied his right to an attorney.

Hafen “violated one of our most sacred, fundamental, and constitutionally protected rights,” according to the letter.

About three minutes after being led away, Bakhtary walked back into the frame, her hands free.

In an interview with the Review-Journal earlier this week, Hafen said he ordered Bakhtary handcuffed because “there needs to be proper decorum with attorneys.” The judge could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Bakhtary, who has worked about once a week in Hafen’s courtroom for three years, said she “did not act unprofessionally. I simply wanted the Court to listen to my argument and consider it before remanding my client.”

Prosecutor Jake Villani said Bakhtary had been given a chance to argue for her client and was interrupting the judge’s ruling.

“My recollection is consistent with the transcripts,” he said. “The judge gave her ample opportunity and warning before taking action.”

Public Defender Phil Kohn has said that an audio/video system, known as JAVS, should have been turned on while the judge was holding court. Hafen said he does not use the system because of potential technological glitches, and the court reporter’s transcript is the official court record.

“There’s nothing unusual about JAVS being disabled in that courtroom,” Villani said. “I’m not aware of a Justice Court that uses the JAVS system actively.”

In Thursday’s letter, the defense group wrote that the transcript “appears incomplete.”

Letter from CCDU

Bakhtary said that after she was released she asked the judge for a break because she was shaking and wanted to call her boss.

The judge denied her request and asked her to continue with her caseload.

That exchange should have been captured in the transcripts, Bashor said, though it is unclear whether proceedings were on the record at that point.

“I can understand why it may not be included,” Bashor said. But “the more thorough thing, in the union’s position, would have been to include the aftermath.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find@randompoker on Twitter.

Transcript of Hafen Contempt by Las Vegas Review-Journal

 

*On December 3, 1991, judicial abuse of Staff Attorneys resurfaced when Staff Attorney Michelle Myers was handcuffed for alleged lateness and for “smiling” at Criminal Court Judge Bernadette Bayne; Myers had asked that her client, charged with a misdemeanor, be unshackled for a pre-trial hearing. On December 12, Brooklyn CDD union members protested by walking off the job and picketing Criminal Court. Several days later, 100 Brooklyn CDD attorneys voted to boycott Bayne’s courtroom to protest both Myers’s treatment and the contempt citations issued by judges against four other Staff Attorneys — all of whom were either incarcerated or handcuffed for periods ranging from a few minutes to two hours for “being late.”

When, in February 1992, the State Commission on Judicial Misconduct dismissed the Society’s complaint against Bayne regarding this incident, ALAA told the New York Law Journal that “[u]ntil there exists a genuine remedy 1,000 Legal Aid attorneys facing judicial abuse in the future will remain compelled to defend our rights — and those of our clients — with immediate, direct action.(10)”

History of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys UAW Local 2325

May 4, 2016

ACLA MAY DAY THANK YOU!

From: Sampeur, Jane-Roberte
Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2016 4:41 PM
To: CRIMINAL ATTYS ALL; 1199 Members; CIVIL BENEFITS CHAT GROUP; CIVIL BKLYN AGING ALL; CIVIL BNO ALL; CIVIL BRONX ALL; CIVIL CONSUMER LAW CHAT GROUP; CIVIL DAP CHAT GROUP; CIVIL EMPLOYMENT LAW ALL; JUVENILE ATTYS ALL; JUVENILE APPEALS ALL; CIVIL EXTERN ATTYS ALL; CIVIL FAMILY CHAT GROUP; CIVIL HCLO ALL; CIVIL HEALTH LAW ALL; CIVIL HOMELESS RIGHTS ALL; CIVIL HOUSING ADVOCATES CHAT GROUP; CIVIL IMMIGRATION ALL; CIVIL LAW REFORM ALL
Subject: ACLA MAY DAY THANK YOU!

Thanks to everyone who came out in support of fair treatment for our clients, justice for Akai Gurley and ending mass criminalization and state sanctioned violence against communities of color. For those of you who weren’t able to make it, see links below recapping Monday’s powerful protest.

To be continued…

http://www.hotindienews.com/2016/05/02/48358

https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/may-2-2016-acla-protest-for-akai-gurley/

May 2, 2016

May 2, 2016: ACLA Protest for Akai Gurley

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NYC public defenders and other unionized Legal Aid Society attorneys and support staff march and rally to demand justice for Akai Gurley, and to end the criminalization of Black and Brown people, from Legal Aid Society office at 111 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, to Kings County District Attorney’s office. Called by the Attorneys of Color of Legal Aid (ACLA) caucus of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325.

Chants:
*Black Lives Matter, Justice for Akai!
*No Justice, No Peace, No Racist Police!
*End Broken Windows, Fire Bratton now!
*Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!
*Akai Gurley, Michael Brown, shut it down, shut it down!
*Whose Streets? Our Streets!
*What Do We Want? Justice!
*Who’s the real criminal? NYPD!
*How do you spell racist? N-Y- P-D!

======
Statement from the Attorneys of Color Caucus of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys: https://www.facebook.com/AttorneysOfColorCaucus/posts/1028304417255636

Attorneys from Legal Aid: A YEAR IN JAIL FOR $2.75 and No Jail time for a murderer? #JusticeForAkaiGurley
http://www.hotindienews.com/2016/05/02/48358

https://twitter.com/hashtag/byeken

#BlackLivesMatter #AkaiGurley Attorneys of Color Caucus – ACLA

April 28, 2016

Statement from the Attorneys of Color Caucus of the Association (ACLA) of Legal Aid Attorneys (Akai Gurley)

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Indigent Defense,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 12:00 am

Statement from the Attorneys of Color Caucus of the Association (ACLA) of Legal Aid Attorneys

We stand here today for our clients, and all communities suffering the injustice and indignities caused by the actions of the NYPD and supported by the criminal justice system. As public defenders, we represent poor and working class communities that are predominantly people of color. We represent young Black and Latino men, who are overwhelmingly impacted by racist policies, such as Stop and Frisk and Broken Windows. They represent the majority of arrests in New York City.

From this perspective, we express our outrage and disappointment at the disparate treatment and consideration given to Peter Liang, treatment that is never given to our clients.

Akai Gurley joins a long list of young men of color infamously murdered or assaulted by the NYPD, including Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham, Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Anthony Baez and Abner Louima. Yet police officers are almost never indicted -let alone convicted-for their crimes, and when they are finally convicted for their crimes, they are given special treatment in sentencing by District Attorneys and judges.

Rarely does the District Attorney’s office ever recommend probation after obtaining a guilty verdict after a jury trial. More often than not, irrespective of the charges, violent or nonviolent, the DA’s office recommends jail time for our clients. That is especially true in crimes involving serious physical injury.

In his letter to Judge Chun, D.A. Thompson listed a number of reasons why mitigation should be considered in giving Peter Liang sentencing. He listed the lack of Liang’s criminal record, and considered the reasons for confinement and rehabilitative needs of the defendant. The last paragraph of that letters states: “There are no winners here…we believe the sentence we propose is fair and just under the circumstances of this case.”

Our clients are human beings and deserve that same consideration that the District Attorney’s office showed Peter Liang in their sentencing recommendation.

To this end, we stand here today to demand the following:

We demand fair treatment in sentencing of the clients that we represent. The District Attorney’s office should consider their rehabilitative needs, as they considered it in Liang’s case.

We demand that the City and District Attorney’s office fully fund and expand alternatives to incarceration, such as the YCP Program, CASES, and the Fortune Society.

We demand the City and District Attorney end the Broken Windows theory of policing. Broken Windows is a repressive approach to policing that promotes quality-of-life arrests as a way to deter other crimes. After so many years, it is clear that this theory of policing has been utilized to justify the harassment and incarceration of poor communities and communities of color, resulting in thousands of arrest warrants for unanswered petty summons tickets. Under these policies, warrants and incarceration are the City’s default rather than exception. We demand an end to vertical patrols in public housing. We demand an end to racist policies that create disproportionate arrests of young men of color.

We also demand an end to the D.A.’s policy of Operation Spotlight. Operation Spotlight is a term used by the D.A. to characterize individuals who have been arrested multiple times for misdemeanor crimes. Their policy is to recommend a year in jail, regardless of whether all those prior arrest resulted in a conviction. These clients are often charged with jumping the turnstile, minor drug possession, shoplifting, and other non-violent misdemeanor crimes. Operation Spotlight does not take into consideration any mitigating factor of the alleged crime, the needs of the individual, or the circumstances of the case.

We demand an end to the mass incarceration of Black and Latino communities.

We demand respect and recognition that Black and Latino lives matter. The disparate treatment Peter Liang received, as an officer of the New York City Police Department, who killed a young black man, is a reflection of the organized hostility toward poor communities of color. The criminal justice system continues to send a clear message every day that Black and Latino lives are of less value. We cannot support any system that devalues Black and Latino lives. We cannot support any system where jail replaces schools, where jails replace programs to end poverty, and where jails replace fully funded public health programs.

Our clients are human beings and they deserve the same consideration that the District Attorney’s office showed Peter Liang.
Signed,

The Attorneys of Color Caucus (ACLA) of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA)
ALAA, Local 2325 Executive Board
UAW Region 9a NYC CAP Council
National Conference of Black Lawyers, NY Chapter

*Titles listed for affiliation only

Greg Johnston, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Martin R. Stolar, Attorney-at-law
Diane Akerman, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Lauren Katzman, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Rebecca Kavanaugh, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Daniella Korotzer, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Michael Letwin, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Alexandra H. Smith, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Renate Lunn, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Jeremy Frederickson, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Izel Fortunato, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Danielle Jones, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Steve Wasserman, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Willoughby Jenett, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Dana Cohen, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Eliza Pacheco, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Lily Goetz, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Bahar Ansari, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Alexander Smith, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Danielle Arbogast, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Nora Carroll, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Lester Helfman, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Richard Blum, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Helene Busby, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Crystal Baker-Burr, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Nora Van Dusen, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Sara Evans-Devita, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Andrea Bible, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Perry McCall, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Nesta Johnson, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Dale Ventura, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Jason Wu, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Bharati Narumanchi, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Kathleen Kelleher, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Kesha Jagdeo, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Susan Welber, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Elon Harpaz, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Sarah Young, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Jessica Bettencourt, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Susan Sternberg, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Gretchen Brownscheidle, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society

Sources:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/analysis_and_planning/year_end_2015_enforcement_report.pdf

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2014/12/edward_banfield_the_racist_classist_origins_of_br oken_windows_policing.html

http://www.salon.com/2014/10/29/more_proof_nypds_beloved_broken_windows_policy_is_a_racist_mess/

https://ccrjustice.org/sites/default/files/assets/files/2008%20Report%20on%20NYPD%20Racial%20Profiling%20& %20Brutality%20to%20UN%20SR%20on%20Racism.pdf

April 27, 2016

TIME: ACLA MAY DAY PROTEST MAY 2 5PM

From: Sampeur, Jane-Roberte
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 1:51 PM
To: CRIMINAL ATTYS ALL; 1199 Members; CIVIL BENEFITS CHAT GROUP; CIVIL BKLYN AGING ALL; CIVIL BNO ALL; CIVIL BRONX ALL; CIVIL CONSUMER LAW CHAT GROUP; CIVIL DAP CHAT GROUP; CIVIL EMPLOYMENT LAW ALL; JUVENILE ATTYS ALL; JUVENILE APPEALS ALL; CIVIL EXTERN ATTYS ALL; CIVIL FAMILY CHAT GROUP; CIVIL HCLO ALL; CIVIL HEALTH LAW ALL; CIVIL HOMELESS RIGHTS ALL; CIVIL HOUSING ADVOCATES CHAT GROUP; CIVIL IMMIGRATION ALL; CIVIL LAW REFORM ALL
Cc: Narumanchi, Bharati
Subject: TIME: ACLA MAY DAY PROTEST MAY 2 5PM

**ACLA invites all of Legal Aid to join us in our May Day Protest** 

*End the Mass Criminalization of Black and Brown Communities* 

Let’s express our outrage  over:

–        The disparate treatment given to Peter Liang in sentencing

–        NYPD killing of black men.

–        Injustice and indignities caused by the actions of the NYPD and supported by the criminal justice system.

 

Let’s demand D.A. Thompson and the NYPD:

–        Increase alternatives to incarceration

–        End  outrageous offers given to our clients

–        End unfair and unjust sentencing recommendations

–        End Vertical Patrol

–        End Broken Windows

–        End Operation Spotlight

–        End The War on Drugs

 

When: Monday May 2 at  5PM

Where: In Front of the Brooklyn D.A.’s office

350 Jay Street, Brooklyn

January 15, 2015

Legal Aid stands up in solidarity (Socialist Worker)

Legal Aid stands up in solidarity

Lucy Herschel, a delegate in 1199SEIU and paralegal at the Legal Aid Society, reports from New York City, on protests by some of those on the front lines of the justice system.

Solidarity

Legal aid workers are joining their voices with the Black Lives Matter movement (Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW 2325)

UNION ATTORNEYS at the Legal Aid Society organized a walkout from the Brooklyn Criminal Courthouse on December 17 in protest of a criminal justice system that railroads poor people of color every day of the week—yet is incapable of indicting police officers.

Led by members of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW Local 2325, the walkout involved public defenders from other agencies, as well as members of my union, 1199SEIU, which represents the support staff at Legal Aid.

In my 17 years at Legal Aid, I have never seen anything quite like this. From the courthouse, we marched through the streets to the Brooklyn House of Detention, chanting everything from “Black lives matter” to “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system in guilty as hell!”

At the Brooklyn House, we staged a die-in in remembrance of Akai Gurley, the unarmed Brooklyn man who was shot and killed by a police officer conducting a vertical patrol in an unlit housing project stairwell. We then marched around to other courthouses, taking over the entire Manhattan-bound side of the road leading to the Brooklyn Bridge. One of our last stops was the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, where we continued to chant our demands for indictment for police officers who brutalize and kill.

As Anne Oredeko, one of the main organizers of the action, stated:

We had to do this action to show solidarity with the communities we represent. We do work in communities of color, especially poor communities of color where the police consistently brutalize them, consistently assault them, consistently cause physical harm and damage to individual members of the communities. So we had do this protest today to show solidarity with them, to demand an end to “Broken Windows” policing, to demand the end of police brutality, to demand an end to mass incarceration.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE BROOKLYN action was part of an unprecedented wave of public defenders in several cities around the country holding protests and die-ins in December to denounce the bias of the criminal justice system in the wake of the Eric Garner and Mike Brown decisions.

On December 16, 250 lawyers, clients and supporters staged four-and-a-half minutes of silence on the courthouse steps in New Orleans. On December 17, die-ins were held at courthouses in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. On December 18, public defenders in five counties in the Bay Area held simultaneous lunchtime protests on the steps of their respective courthouses.

Public defenders are in a unique position of being in the front lines of the court system, able to see the overall picture of what kinds of cases are being prosecuted and how. Day in and day out, they see clients’ lives turned upside down over petty offenses. Every day, they see their mostly poor, mostly Brown and Black clients railroaded on weak and conflicting evidence. And every day, they fight an uphill battle in a court system that systematically defers to the police and prosecutor.

As another organizer of the Brooklyn action, Bina Ahmad, said, much of what is being prosecuted are crimes of poverty, from turnstyle jumping to sleeping on subway cars. “I have a client who was recently indicted [in felony charges] for driving with a suspended license,” Ahmad said. “His license was suspended because he couldn’t afford to pay all the fines and tickets he owed. So now he’s going to jail.”

She pointed out how the system is set up to profit off these arrests and to control poor populations. “I don’t think the system is broken,” she said. “I think it’s working just the way it’s supposed to.”

As Oredeko sees it, there is a direct connection between this kind of over-policing and level of police brutality and killings. “When you designate a whole entire population as criminals,” she said, “then you see what we see here today, and that is police brutality reaching dramatic levels.”

For many Legal Aid attorneys, this issue is not just about their clients, but about their own families and neighborhoods. As another coworker, Lisa Edwards, a 25-year veteran from the Harlem office, put it, “Our union has a history of mobilizing around issues like this. We have a duty to mobilize and take steps to address issues that affect our work and the people we serve. But I think this is even more compelling for people of color at Legal Aid.”

She told me this was brought home to her when she took her family to the December 13 Millions March. Her 10-year-old son made a poster with a drawing a person videotaping a cop shooting someone in the head. They then spontaneously organized their own form of performance art, her son laying down on the street, Lisa outlining his body in chalk and her daughter writing “Who’s next?” below. They did this about seven times through the march, including in front of lines of cops.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

WHILE THERE are many like Lisa who have been involved in this kind of work for decades, there has undoubtedly been an increase for several years now of staff members being involved in broad activism around criminal justice issues: from fighting the horrifying conditions at the Rikers Island jails, to ending stop-and-frisk policing, to fighting around the case of Kyam Livingston, who died while waiting to be arraigned in the Brooklyn Courthouse, to other cases of police killings like Ramarley Graham and Shantel Davis.

In large part because of pressure exerted by the union and its attorneys of color caucus, Legal Aid has been more and more successful at recruiting and retaining attorneys of color, many of whom are leading these recent actions. In general, we have been impacted by an influx of new attorneys, both of color and white, with activist experience and inclinations.

More and more, union members appear to be looking to merge the work we do every day with a broader vision of activism and social justice. Union members have also begun to push management and Legal Aid as an institution to lead around these issues.

I believe we still have a lot of work to do in terms of merging this fight for social justice outside the workplace with a fight for justice on the job. Part of fighting for quality legal services means fighting for the kind of pay and working conditions that allow people to make a life and a career. However, unlike most public defenders offices, we are unionized, which at least gives us the building blocks for taking on that fight.

Meanwhile, organizing around police accountability continues. Staff members at the Staten Island Legal Aid office where Eric Garner was a client are now organizing for a protest and vigil at the 120th Precinct on January 15, Martin Luther King’s birthday and the six-month anniversary of Garner’s death.

Members in all five boroughs are meeting to prepare to mobilize. As organizers in Ferguson have emphasized, it is going to take a sustained struggle around the issues of police brutality, mass incarceration, racism and inequality to change things in this country. Public defense workers in New York and around the country have begun to throw their weight into this fight.

January 9, 2015

2015.01.09: Lawyers Will March on MLK’s Birthday (Josh Norkin, NYLJ)

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Indigent Defense,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 12:00 am

Lawyers Will March on MLK’s Birthday
Joshua Norkin, New York Law Journal

January 9, 2015

mlk-march
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and FreedomU.S. National Archives and Records Administration

As public defenders, we are witnesses to all forms of injustice. When you are arrested in New York, we are usually the first friendly face you will see. Our clients lose their jobs, their driving privileges, face deportation and may be forced from their homes for simply being accused of crimes they may or may not have committed. We are the lawyers tasked with helping members of the community start to put back together the pieces of their lives after they have been falsely accused, and the ones tasked with making sure citizens receive the proper legal advice when they have made a mistake.

Murder is murder, and there never is an excuse or justification under any circumstances. The deaths of New York City Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos are unquestionably a tragedy.

In our view, their deaths should not stop a productive conversation about police tactics in New York City from continuing. What remains so heartbreaking about the deaths of Akai Gurley and Eric Garner is that these are not isolated incidents. As public defenders we know that these deaths were a by-product of the police misconduct that many of our clients deal with every day. We recognize it because it is an extension of the same police transgressions that bring us clients, overwhelmingly from communities of color, with bloody noses and broken bones for being accused of trespassing in their own buildings, jumping a subway turnstile or riding a bike on the sidewalk.

Much of the legal community has turned a blind eye to the injustice. That is why on Jan. 15, 2015, at 3:30 p.m. at the Staten Island Ferry terminal, we will be joined by lawyers from across the state and members of the community to march in peaceful and nonviolent protest past the Staten Island courthouse, the district attorney’s office and the 120th precinct to call for changes to a broken legal system. As public defenders, and lawyers tasked with upholding fairness and the rule of law, we believe we are uniquely suited to call attention to the issues that plague the criminal justice system.

As lawyers we must take responsibility for a system that broke on our watch. Police misconduct is a serious problem, and we must find a better way to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. As we mourn the death of Eric Garner, and celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we will call for the immediate unsealing of the grand jury minutes of Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s case.

In the same vein, we also believe that secret grand jury proceedings should cease, and the unconstitutional and disparate policing of communities of color must end. We march because Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once told us that, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” As public defenders we can stay silent no longer, we hope the rest of the legal community will join us.

Joshua Norkin
The author, a member of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys,
UAW Local 2325, is an appellate attorney with the Legal Aid Society
in Manhattan. ALAA represents more than 1,000 attorneys working
with Legal Aid in all five boroughs, the Federal Defenders of the
Eastern and Southern Districts, the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County,
and the Legal Aid Society of Orange County.

December 17, 2014

2014.12.17: Brooklyn Public Defenders Die-In for Eric Garner

So proud to be with hundreds of fellow Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW 2325 members, Attorneys of Color of Legal Aid (ACLA), 1199 members and other public defenders who walked out of Brooklyn Criminal Court and joined today’s die-in at Brooklyn House of Detention, for Eric Garner, Mike Brown and all other victims of police violence, mass incarceration and a racist criminal justice system. We also took over Brooklyn Bridge Place and marched through downtown Brooklyn.

Chants included:
*Black Lives Matter: Justice for Eric Garner!
*No Justice, No Peace, No Racist Police!
*End Broken Windows: Fire Bill Bratton!
*Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!
*Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Shut it Down, Shut the Whole Damn System Down!
*Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell!
*Who’s Streets? Our Streets!
*What Do We Want? Justice!

#BlackLivesMatter #EricGarner #WeCantBreathe #ShutItDown#FireBratton

More photos at:

https://www.facebook.com/michael.letwin/media_set?set=a.10205433197099686.1073741850.1542848808&type=1

https://twitter.com/jncatron/status/545358281531604992/photo/1

https://www.facebook.com/somesq1958/media_set?set=a.1446531175169.2060694.1589877680&type=3

Coverage:

http://pix11.com/2014/12/17/100-brooklyn-public-defenders-walk-out-in-eric-garner-protest/

https://www.facebook.com/michael.letwin/media_set?set=a.10205422912842586.1073741849.1542848808&type=3

http://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/new-york-public-defenders-walk-out-of-court-protesting-eric?bftw=main

http://brooklyn.news12.com/news/legal-aid-attorneys-stage-walk-out-at-brooklyn-criminal-court-to-protest-garner-death-1.9723742

http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20141217/defense-lawyers-march-to-protest-police-killings

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/defense-lawyers-march-protest-police-killings-27667839

Attorneys of Color Caucus – ACLA
Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW 2325

Related:

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2014/12/new_orleans_public_defenders_a.html

Tagged photos below at Facebook

IMG_8912 IMG_8913 IMG_8915 IMG_8917 IMG_8920 IMG_8923 IMG_8927 IMG_8929 IMG_8931 IMG_8932 IMG_8933 IMG_8938 IMG_8947 IMG_8949 IMG_8951 IMG_8952 IMG_8953 IMG_8954 IMG_8956 IMG_8960 IMG_8961 IMG_8964 IMG_8965 IMG_8966 IMG_8969 IMG_8970 IMG_8971 IMG_8975 IMG_8976 IMG_8977 IMG_8979 IMG_8980 IMG_8983 IMG_8984

June 9, 2014

2014.06.09: Orleans Public Defenders Ben Levick Sullivan Investigator Fellowship

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Indigent Defense — nyclaw01 @ 10:03 am

From:    Letwin, Michael
Sent:   Monday, June 09, 2014 10:03 AM
To:     1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject:        Orleans Public Defenders Ben Levick Sullivan Investigator Fellowship

The Ben Levick Sullivan Investigator Fellowship, launching in 2014, will be an integral part of fulfilling the Orleans Public Defender’s (OPD) mission to give every client zealous, client-centered representation. Ben came to OPD with the first class of intern investigators post-Katrina in 2007. He fell in love with OPD, its clients, New Orleans, and all of his committed and talented colleagues. He returned as a staff investigator, then as law clerk, and it was his ambition to return as a staff attorney. Tragically, during his second year at Tulane Law School, he was killed. In his memory, his family began a fund to establish an investigator fellowship at OPD to carry on the vital work that gave Ben so much joy and that he did with such dedication.

http://www.opdla.org/employment-opportunities/opd-job-opportunities/224-ben-levick-sullivan-investigator-fellowship

November 25, 2013

2013.11.25: Speech by Azalia Torres at Marden Awards

Azalia Marden 2On November 25, 2013, Azalia Torres (shown here with Attorney-in-Chief Steve Banks), public defender in Brooklyn since 1987, leading member of Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325, and co-founder of Attorneys of Color of Legal Aid (ACLA), was one of the recipients of a 2013 Orison S. Marden Awards for outstanding service to The New York Legal Aid Society.

In this brief video (4:47m), Azalia explains why the award belongs to attorneys of color, senior attorneys, and all Legal Aid staff attorneys.

Congratulations to all 2013 Marden Award recipients.

(Photo and video courtesy of LAS investigator Charles Billups.)

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