ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

January 28, 2014

2014.01.28: Memorial for Ramarley Graham 2/3 at 5pm

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Scabs — nyclaw01 @ 1:06 pm

From: Arafa, Noha
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 1:06 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: Memorial for Ramarley Graham 2/3 at 5pm


Monday, February 3, 2014


5:00pm until 9:00pm

Crawford Memorial United Methodist Church Address: 3751 White Plains Road, (btwn. 218 and 219th Street) Bronx, New York 10466
February 2nd will mark 2 years since Ramarley was taken from us and in his honor there will be a memorial to commemorate his life with us, families, friends and the community. You can take the #2 train to the 219th stop.

Please spread the word and lets raise our voices as we did when you first heard of the unjustifiable act by an Officer in the NYPD.

Thank you for your continuous support and we look forward to seeing you.

Constance Malcolm
Franclot Graham

July 24, 2012

2012.07.24: Proposal for Tonight’s JC Meeting

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Scabs — nyclaw01 @ 1:40 pm

From:    Codling, Antonia

Sent:   Tuesday, July 24, 2012 1:40 PM

To:     1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS

Subject:        Proposal for tonight’s JC meeting


Sorry ya’ll — I was a little too hasty!  Here it is again with the attachment.

Dear All,


Attached is a proposal addressing the matter previously discussed about Assistant District Attorney Justin Marrus.  If you wish to be a signatory to this proposal, please let me know and I will add your name.  Also, I will be making a motion requesting that the JC adopt the attached proposal at tonight’s meeting.  If you want your delegate to support and vote for this proposal, please inform your delegate.


I assisted in the drafting of this proposal and wholeheartedly endorse it, and strongly encourage others to do the same!


Thank you!








The UAW, 1199 and ALAA were founded upon an enduring vision of social justice, and have a commitment to non-discrimination and speaking out on broader social ills.

For this reason, our unions, which represent staff at The Legal Aid Society, the only unionized public defender in New York City, demand that appropriate action be immediately taken against ADA Justin Marrus for posting photographs of a Confederate flag tattoo, black face and dreadlocks and prison rape simulation on Facebook

These pictures were posted for six years by ADA Marrus and could be viewed publicly until he was recently forced to take them down due to pressure placed on him by District Attorney Charles Hynes.

For the following reasons, ADA Marrus must be held accountable for this behavior:

ONE: The Confederate flag and black face are inherently racist, oppressive and offensive symbols of slavery and post-slavery era in this country. The waving of a Confederate flag, the wearing of blackface and the simulation of prison rape, on government property with state actors’ permission no less, should be considered a “badge and incident of slavery,” within the meaning of the 13th Amendment and its jurisprudence.

No other so-called civilized nation runs a Criminal Justice System like ours, which uses mass incarceration and the death penalty as instruments essentially of terror and social control. Why is that? Slavery. Although the tree of slavery was chopped down between 1861and 1865, its roots remain and are excruciatingly palpable in the Criminal Justice System. Our union is comprised predominantly of attorneys that work within the Criminal Justice System.

We are far from a state of grace, and ALAA and 1199 must bravely be known as a vehicle willing to “speak truth to power” and giving voice to the voiceless, lest we become complicit in the system against which we are fighting.


TWO:  Excusing ADA’s Marrus’ posting of inherently racist, homophobic and misogynist photographs as a mistake of “youth,” because he was “only” 19 at the time of the postings rings hollow as the photographs remained until recently, on his Facebook page and during his tenure as an ADA. These pictures could be viewed publicly for six years, from age 19 to 25. ADA Marrus only removed these offensive pictures when he was forced to do so in order to keep his job.


This leads one to believe that but for the outing of these pictures, these pictures would have still remained on ADA Justin Marrus’ Facebook. It demonstrates that this is no indiscretion of youth, but that ADA Marrus still espouses these beliefs.


THREE: Neither ADA Marrus nor DA Charles Hynes made any apology for ADA Marrus’ egregious behavior to the People whom they were entrusted to serve. The lack of apology to the People underscores a context of institutional racism in the Criminal Justice System, including Stop and Frisk, police violence, the drug wars, mass incarceration and the New Jim Crow and we will not turn a blind eye to it. Indeed, our clients receive heavy penalties for minor offenses such as possessing marijuana, riding bicycles on sidewalks or jumping through turnstiles.


Yet, neither ADA Justin Marrus nor DA Hynes have been held accountable for their behavior which is far more egregious than many of the petty offenses for which our clients routinely receive harsh punishment. This apparent hypocrisy is due perhaps to the color of their skin, their position of power and their background of privilege.


FOUR: Ninety percent of those prosecuted are people of color, the very people who ADA Justin Marrus so blatantly showed he has no respect for. ADA Marrus should not be able to have any impact on the lives of people whom he has shown he has racist feelings towards.


ADA Marrus should be stripped of any power allowing him to make decisions on cases where defendants are of color, until he apologizes to the People, until DA Charles Hynes issues an apology to the People and until ADA Justin Marrus receives sensitivity training and/or other appropriate remedial action.


FIVE: It is troubling that the pictures simulating prisoner rape were taken in a jail cell. An inquiry must be made as to how ADA Justin Marrus received access into the jail cell, how he was able to take pictures in the jail cell, especially pictures simulating prisoner rape.

We, the following members of ALAA and 1199 demand action be taken.


Noha Momtaz Tahrir Arafa – Brooklyn CDD ALAA

Bahar Mirhossieni – Civil ALAA

Lisa Edwards – Civil – Harlem Community Office ALAA

Michael Letwin – Brooklyn CDD ALAA

Susan Morris – Brooklyn CDD ALAA

Azalia Torres – Brooklyn CDD ALAA

ManI Tafari – PRDU ALAA

Jeffrey Bloom – Bronx CDD ALAA

  1. Antonia Codling – Bronx CDD ALAA

Kristin Lew – Manhattan CDD 1199

Jessica Gusberg – Brooklyn JRD 1199

James Kampil – Manhattan JRD ALAA

Daniel Stern –     Manhattan CDD ALAA

Steven Mechanic – Bronx CDD ALAA

Alison Burke – Bronx CDD ALAA

Daniel Hsiung – Civil Harlem Community Office ALAA

Emily Kitay – Brooklyn JRP ALAA

Laurie Dick – Brooklyn CDD ALAA

Gregory Clarke – Staten Island CDD ALAA

Mitchell Briskey – CAB ALAA

Mimi Rosenberg – Brooklyn Civil ALAA

Elizabeth Loebman – Brooklyn CDD 1199

Lauren Katzman – Brooklyn JRD ALAA

Keisha Godfrey – Queens CDD ALAA

Monica Dula – Bronx CDD ALAA

Rebecca Kurti – Brooklyn CDD ALAA

Claire Nicolay – Brooklyn CDD ALAA

Ashley Carter – Brooklyn CDD ALAA

Lucy Herschel – Queens CDD 1199

Naila Siddiqui – PRDU ALAA

June 22, 2012

2012.06.22: RE: Bronx Defenders expanding?

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2012 1:56 PM
To: Wright, Deborah;
Subject: RE: Bronx Defenders expanding?

Background on Bronx Defenders and the other scab (nonunion) defense contractors.

(*NB: The $160m in cumulative cuts to LAS criminal funding in 2001 totals far more today, as the Bloomberg administration continues to increase funding to such nonunion agencies as Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, et al.)

Union Members Protest Award to Schreibersdorf (April 16, 2008)
“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.”

Labor Resolution to Defend Legal Aid (September 10, 2001)
“These new contracts are designed to insulate and/or extend seven existing runaway shops funded out of the $160 million* already cut by this administration from Legal Aid, whose unionized UAW attorneys and 1199 (SEIU) support staff have long championed high-quality legal representation for poor people.”

Bronx Defenders Peddle a Myth (February 28, 2000)
“No amount of hype can alter the collaboration of Bronx Defenders with Mayor Giuliani’s assault on indigent criminal defense. Bronx Defenders has chosen to be part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

History of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys UAW Local 2325 (August 1999)
“This asphyxiation of Legal Aid has seriously weakened vertical continuity and other essential elements of high-quality representation. Staff Attorneys’ ability to resist has been further undermined by the runaway defenders’ willingness to curry favor with the administration by abandoning vertical continuity; participating in arraignment body count contests; pandering to judges, court administration and even district attorneys; replacing seniority with “merit”-based salaries unilaterally set by management; and, in some offices, permitting part-time private practice.”

March 27, 2012

2012.03.27: RE: Reviving Gideon: Reforming the Right to Counsel

Filed under: 1994 Strike,ALAA History,Criminal Justice,Indigent Defense,Scabs — nyclaw01 @ 11:04 pm

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 10:40 AM
Subject: RE: Reviving Gideon: Reforming the Right to Counsel

Some background and context, below.

See also:

2/28/00 Nat’l L.J. A16, (col. 5)
The National Law Journal
Volume 22, Number 27
Monday, February 28, 2000



Michael Z. Letwin

President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys UAW Local 2325 New York

Bronx defenders promotes the myth that its “holistic advocacy” for indigent criminal defendants transcends the allegedly “limited, staid model of intervention” of the Legal Aid Society (LAS), New York’s primary public defender organization [“The best defense…,” Jan. 31].

For 30 years, however, unionized Legal Aid Society attorneys and support staff have fought for and won the kinds of practice for which Bronx Defenders now seeks to take credit, including collaborative and creative advocacy, drug rehabilitation, pre- and post-pleading memorandums, alternatives to incarceration and job placement.

Unlike Bronx Defenders, however, which the city lavishly funds to handle only 12,500 cases, LAS staff represent an unlimited number of clients—more than 200,000 a year in New York at present—with far lower per-case funding. This reflects the Giuliani administration’s retaliation against the LAS and its unions for a brief 1994 strike. Since that time, city funding for the LAS has been slashed from $79 million to $52 million annually. As a result, reported the Indigent Oversight Panel of the Appellate Division, 1st Department, in 1998, the LAS “is handling too many cases with too little staff and too little support….These conditions have, in large measure, been created by the City’s decision to contract with” Bronx Defenders and six other organizations favored by the administration.

Warm and fuzzy feelings at Bronx Defenders and its siblings give their nonunion staff neither power over legal practice nor protection from employer favoritism, arbitrary discipline and firing. By contrast, collective bargaining at the LAS provides unionized lawyers and support staff with the means to defend and improve workload limits, provide continuity (having the same lawyer throughout a case), a fair and uniform pay scale, influence over hiring and promotion decisions, affirmative action, office space, health and safety protections and many other gains directly related to high-quality representation.

No amount of hype can alter the collaboration of Bronx Defenders with Mayor Giuliani’s assault on indigent criminal defense. Bronx Defenders has chosen to be part of the problem, not part of the solution.

2/28/00 NLJ A16, (col. 5) 
On Mar 27, 2012, at 8:48 AM, “Morgan, Florence” wrote:

Correction!! referring to “vermin” guliani-that ever “crawled” not walked the earth.

I am preaching to some members  of the choir-  Make no mistake about it, there is a contingent that makes excuses for these folks. Indeed as I have said before, even after guiliani’s vicious actions, there are some who still supported and voted for him…

From: Morgan, Florence
Sent: Monday, March 26, 2012 10:08 PM
Subject: RE: Reviving Gideon: Reforming the Right to Counsel

Yes, she will talk about the reason she “started” a new type of defender? Despicable!  She did not wake up one day and said, “You know I am going to start a new type of practice”-  (whatever the hell that means!!!). She is one of the “beneficiaries”… of one of the most virulent vermin that has ever walked the earth–guliani.

I use the term beneficiaries loosely as the term usually suggests something positive.  It matters not what so-called $ they claim to be hauling in,  and how much they can use city funding to finance their private cases (in boros where they can do that), participating in and facilitating “union busting” can never be positive in my eyes.

Perhaps she will choke on her lies when she tells the attendees the reason she is “overseeing” that SCAB office.



From: Morris, Susan
Sent: Monday, March 26, 2012 4:22 PM
Subject: RE: Reviving Gideon: Reforming the Right to Counsel

It is a bit odd that while PD offices across the country are unionizing, a scab representative will be discussing that topic.

“Robin Steinberg, founder of the Bronx Defenders, will speak about the reasons she started a new type of defender organization, how she did it, and how she is teaching organizations and practitioners from across the country to improve the way they practice”

Why? Because Giuliani tried to bust our union

How? By making our union weak and creating an anti-union shop

It’s a shame she is working on spreading her poison throughout the land.


From: A.
Sent: Monday, March 26, 2012 4:13 PM
Subject: RE: Reviving Gideon: Reforming the Right to Counsel

I wonder what the organizer of this program meant by “a new type of defender organization”


From: J.
Sent: Monday, March 26, 2012 4:02 PM
Subject: FW: Reviving Gideon: Reforming the Right to Counsel


The Cardozo Public Law, Policy, and Ethics Journal presents

Reviving Gideon: Reforming the Right to Counsel

 Tuesday, March 27th

Jacob Burns Moot Court Room, Cardozo Law School

Reform through the Courts (11am – 1pm)


•         Steve Zeidman, Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at CUNY School of Law


•         Corey Stoughton of NYCLU, Lead Counsel on Hurrel-Harring v. State of New York

•         Mary Smid Mergler, Senior Counsel for the Constitution Project’s Criminal Justice Program, will discuss Lafler v. Cooper (10-209) and Missouri v. Frye (10-444), two right to counsel cases being heard by the Supreme Court this term

•         Stephen Hanlon, Partner at Holland & Knight and Lead Counsel on State Ex Rel. Missouri Public Defender Commission v. Waters

Reform by & for Public Defense Practitioners (2:30pm – 4:30pm)


•         Ekow Yankah, Professor of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law


•         Robin Steinberg, founder of the Bronx Defenders, will speak about the reasons she started a new type of defender organization, how she did it, and how she is teaching organizations and practitioners from across the country to improve the way they practice

•         Bill Leahy, director of the recently established Office of Indigent Legal Services, discusses the reasons why his office was established, what their goals are and how they have already taken concrete steps towards achieving those goals

•         Thomas Giovanni discusses the work of the Brennan Center’s Community Oriented Defender Network

Featured Speaker: Jeff Deskovic (5pm – 6pm)

Courtesy of the Cardozo Criminal Defense Clinic

The recent Innocence Project exoneree discusses his experience as the client of an appointed attorney and how that informed his current reform work through the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation.

Reception to Follow

Please contact Louisa Schlieben, at with any questions.

This message and its attachments are sent by a law office and may contain information that is confidential and protected by privilege from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, you are prohibited from printing, copying, forwarding, or saving this email and any attachments. Please notify the sender immediately if you believe that you are not the intended recipient.


December 3, 2010

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:

April 6, 2010

2010.04.06: RE: Interesting Article

Filed under: 1994 Strike,ALAA History,Indigent Defense,Key Documents,Scabs — nyclaw01 @ 10:41 am

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, April 06, 2010 10:41 AM

Subject: RE: Interesting Article

There’s nothing accidental about Robin Steinberg’s denigration of The Legal Aid Society. As head of a Giuliani scab (nonunion) defense contractor, she has a long history of undermining our work. See, e.g.:

*Tell The Nation: No Scab Defenders (January 2, 2007),

*NDS v. ALAA (June 16, 2004),

*Letter to NYLJ About Bronx Defenders (February 16, 2000),


From:  A.

Sent: Monday, April 05, 2010 7:21 PM


Subject: RE: Interesting Article

The case the NY Times piece is referring to occurred in Elmont, Long Island. Robin should have made it abundantly clear that she was referring to Nassau County and not the NYC Legal Aid Society. She didn’t and the article creates the unfair impression that LAS is not properly counseling clients regarding collateral consequences–particularly immigration. I doubt there will be any correction. This is more about promoting her organization than anything. LAS isn’t using the catchy, new-age ‘holistic defense’ phrase, but hasn’t that been our practice for many years? We counsel and assist client’s with all types of issues unrelated to a criminal case. The public should not be left with the notion that LAS neglects clients in this manner.

In terms of the substance of her promotional piece, although her points are valid, she fails to take into account that plea policies in many suburban counties are considerably more harsh than NYC.  I worked at the Nassau County Legal Aid Society from 1995-97 before working for Ms.Steinberg’s organization for three years. It was far more difficult to work out a favorable disposition in Nassau County in the years I was there than anywhere I’ve practiced in NYC (Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn). Although a client must be properly advised of collateral consequences, declining a violation and going to trial in some places is an even worse decision. Steinberg used to work for Nassau County Legal Aid in the early to mid-eighties I believe and she should have presented a more complete picture.


From:  L.

Sent: Monday, April 05, 2010 1:25 PM


Subject: RE: Interesting Article

A defendant with the name Jerry Lemaine had a marijuana possession case with Legal Aid in Brooklyn in 2006, where he plead guilty to Disorderly Conduct and was sentenced to Community Service.


From:  R.

Sent: Monday, April 05, 2010 1:21 PM


Subject: RE: Interesting Article

I think we are the only one in the country with “THE” and no city qualifier, as in The Legal Aid Society.  Robin wrote this with the intention of puffing up her own organization at the expense of THE Legal Aid Society.  Have no doubt.  She is not competing with Nassau County for funding.  It is deceiving, but also unprofessional even if true.


From:  K

Sent: Monday, April 05, 2010 1:18 PM


Subject: RE: Interesting Article

Someone should have trademarked “legal Aid Society” like 100 years ago!



From:  P.

Sent: Monday, April 05, 2010 1:17 PM


Subject: RE: Interesting Article

I don’t doubt for a minute she did it intentionally, but she is quite smart — the public defense office in Nassau County is “The Legal Aid Society of Nassau County” so it should be capitalized.  But the whole article is written as though her office is the first in the world to talk about immigration consequences, when she knows very well that we have an immigration unit and always give this kind of advice.


From:  K.

Sent: Monday, April 05, 2010 1:14 PM


Subject: RE: Interesting Article

I kind of think she should be called on to issue a retraction/clarification.  Since she is from Bronx Defenders, it would be  a natural assumption to identify the NYC based Legal Aid Society as the culprit, especially since she capitalized Legal Aid.

This may not be a pissing match we want to get into, but it smarts.



From:  P.

Sent: Monday, April 05, 2010 1:11 PM


Subject: RE: Interesting Article

This is the most self-serving article I have read in a long time.  And by the way, that “Legal Aid” case she talks about was in Nassau County, not the city.


From:  L.

Sent: Monday, April 05, 2010 12:52 PM


Subject: Interesting Article

Robin Steinberg, head of Bronx Defenders, talking about the “new age” of public defense ushered in by Supreme Court in Padilla v. Kentucky


March 19, 2010

2010.03.19: RE: RFP news

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, March 19, 2010 9:50 AM
Subject: RE: RFP news

Just in case anyone thinks that the scab (non-union RFP) groups aren’t our enemies, that $24.7 million the city pays them comes out of our funding. And that’s without any additional LAS funds they may get in this current RFP process.


From:  [M.]
Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:46 AM
Subject: RFP news

Lawyers Weigh in on Plan to Shift Conflict Cases to Group Providers

Daniel Wise

New York Law Journal

March 11, 2010

Deputy Criminal Justice Coordinator Shari Hyman faced close, sometimes hostile, questioning at a City Council budget hearing yesterday over a plan to move the handling of conflict cases from private criminal defense lawyers to groups like the Legal Aid Society.

More than 50 private lawyers, whose work for indigent criminal defendants would be sharply curtailed under the city’s plan, attended the hearing conducted by the City Council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Committee.

The lawyers made clear their sentiments with waves of applause when panelists asked Ms. Hyman pointed questions, and groans of dismay at her responses.

Elizabeth Crowley, the head of the committee, started the questioning by asking Ms. Hyman what comparative data her agency had concerning the cost and effectiveness of private lawyers as opposed to institutional providers.

Ms. Hyman reported that the average per case cost for institutional providers is $306 compared to $873 for private lawyers working under the 18-B program.

The audience burst into applause when Ms. Crowley, D-Queens, followed up with a question suggesting that the 18-B lawyers’ costs were higher because they took many more cases to trial and spent more time on them.

Ms. Hyman defended the new plan, saying it would bring “sunlight” to the 14 percent of the criminal caseload not handled by legal services groups.

John Feinblatt, the city’s criminal justice coordinator, said in an interview that the city “is not interested in taking business from anybody,” but instead is “open to hearing all ideas and proposals” to carry out its responsibility for developing the “best system possible” for the representation of indigent criminal defendants.

Councilman Daniel Halloran, R-Queens, who is an 18-B lawyer, challenged Ms. Hyman for being unable to affirmatively state how many of the cases handled by 18-B lawyers are conflicts as opposed to cases surrendered by Legal Aid “willy nilly” to 18-B lawyers when the group’s clients asked for “a real lawyer.”

Mr. Halloran cited data, which his staff identified as coming from the Office of Court Administration, showing that 18-B lawyers are 17 times more likely to take a case to trial than Legal Aid lawyers.

Ms. Hyman’s lack of a direct answer to Mr. Halloran’s question, “Don’t you need statistics to evaluate whether tax dollars are being spent wisely?” drew audible groans from the audience.

Mr. Halloran told Steven Banks, attorney-in-chief of the Legal Aid Society who also testified, that he supported Legal Aid and recognized that it handled too many cases, according to a spokesperson for Legal Aid.

Mr. Banks, in statement to the Law Journal, said that “out of 240,000 cases that we handle each year, we are relieved from 14,000 cases when clients retain counsel or conflicts develop, including approximately 3,000 cases which are reassigned to 18-B lawyers.”

“While there has been a great deal of focus on the status of 18-B,” Mr. Banks noted, “our concern is ensuring that the Legal Aid Society continues its role as the primary defender in New York City because of our ability to provide greater resources and support for clients than others.”

New Approach

Last month, the Criminal Justice Coordinator’s Office issued a request for proposals (RFP) from legal services organizations to handle conflict cases. Conflicts, which most commonly arise in multi-defendant cases, are now handled by private lawyers who have been certified under the 18-B program (NYLJ, Feb. 10).

The move to institutional providers would eliminate most of the work handled by 18-B lawyers. Private lawyers would continue to represent defendants in homicide cases, and get assignments in cases with more than two defendants.

Under the 18-B program, which is named for Article 18-B of the County Law, private lawyers are paid $75 an hour.

There are 1,109 attorneys certified by Appellate Division panels in the First and Second departments to represent indigent defendants at the trial level.

According to data maintained by the OCA, the city paid 18-B attorneys $47.8 million in calendar year 2008 for handling indigent defendants’ trial-level criminal cases.

In the RFP, city officials estimate there were some 34,300 conflict cases, most of them handled by 18-B lawyers, in the fiscal year that ended last June 30.

The RFP states that $8.7 million is available to fund contracts for groups to handle conflict cases.

All Contracts Up for Grabs

The RFP also opens to bidding contracts that have been awarded to the Legal Aid Society and five other groups to staff arraignment parts since 1994. The last time those contracts were opened for competition was in 2002.

The groups are responsible for completing any case they initially handle at arraignment.

In fiscal year 2009, according to the RFP, Legal Aid and the other groups handled more than 90 percent of the cases that passed through the arraignment parts.

Applications from groups interested in handling conflict cases are due on Monday. None of the groups that pick up their cases at arraignment have publicly declared their intention to expand their contracts to include conflict cases, though it is quite likely that several will do so.

In the current fiscal year (FY 2010), the Legal Aid Society received $79.1 million to represent indigent defendants at the trial level.

The five other groups received a total of $24.7 million for FY 2010, according to city data: NY County Defenders, $6.3 million; Brooklyn Defender Services, $5.8 million; Bronx Defenders, $4.9 million; Queens Law Associates, $4.9 million; and Battiste, Aronowsky & Suchow Inc., $2.8 million.

The RFP specifies that in order to qualify to handle conflict cases, a group must cover arraignment shifts, and are required to represent all defendants arraigned during those shifts except for cases exposing them to a conflict of interest.

In the four largest boroughs, Legal Aid handles 76 arraignment shifts per week and lawyers from the other four groups operating in those boroughs handle 16.

To the extent new groups receive contracts to handle conflict cases their current funding will have to be increased so they can accommodate the additional cases. The question will be whether the cost of increased funding will exceed the $75 per hour rate now paid to 18-B lawyers.

In a separate development yesterday, the OCA issued a new rule that could drive up the costs of groups representing indigent defendants. (See accompanying article.)

@|Daniel Wise can be reached at

December 1, 2009

2009.12.01: Attorney Strikes at the Legal Aid Society of New York City (Encyclopedia of Strikes)

2009.00.00 — Encyclopedia of Strikes in American History — ML Article on ALAA — OCR








Armonk, New York

London, England

Copyright© 2009 by M.E. Sharpe, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form

without written permission from the publisher, M.E. Sharpe, Inc.,

80 Business Park Drive, Armonk, New York 10504.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

The encylopedia of strikes in American history I Aaron Brenner, Benjamin Day, Immanuel Ness [editors].

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-7656-1330-1 (cloth: alk. paper)

1. Strikes and lockouts-United States-Encyclopedias. I. Brenner, Aaron. H. Day, Benjamin, 1979-

III. Ness, Immanuel.

HD5324.E39 2008 ,


Printed in the United States of America

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of

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Publisher: Myron E. Sharpe

Vice President and Editorial Director: Patricia A. Kolb

Executive Editor: Lynn Taylor

Production Director: Carmen Chetti

Production Editor: Angela Piliouras

Editorial Assistants: Kathryn Corasaniti and Nicole Cirino

Typesetter: Nancy Connick

Cover Design: Jesse Sanchez





Michael Z. Letwin

In 1970, Legal Aid attorneys in New York City

becan1e the first lawyers in the United States to go

on strike, and they did so again in 1973,1974,1982,

and 1994. Despite expectations to the contrary (and

for reasons that cannot be fully explored here) few

lawyers elsewhere have followed their example.

It is clear, however, that Legal Aid strikes in

New York City took place in the wake of Gideon v.

Wainwright (372 U.S. 335, 1963), in which the U.S.

Supreme Court dramatically expanded the right of

counsel for indigent criminal defendants. Instead

of establishing a public defender office to meet the

obligations imposed by Gideon, New York City’s

municipal government contracted with the Legal

Aid Society, a privately funded charity established

in 1876, as its primary public defense provider. 1b

fulfill its city contract, the Society hired hundreds

of public defenders.

Despite Gideon, however, New York City’s

criminal justice system dealt contemptuously with

poor defendants. Grossly inadequate city funding

for indigent defense meant low salaries and impossible

caseloads, turning the attorneys into glorified

production workers who could offer only perfunctory

representation for an overwhelming number

of clients, nearly all of them African American

and Latino. This assembly line was epitomizeCl by

fragmented representation in which clients were

seen by a different attorney on each of many court

appearances in the same case.

By the late 1960s, the civil rights movement

had condemned such poor-quality indigent defense

as just another reflection–alongside police

brutality and discriminatory sentencing-of institutional

racism throughout the criminal justice

system. But despite a series of official reports and

mass inmate protests that sharply criticized such


representation in New York City, conditions did

not change; politicians, judges, Wall Street lawyers,

and Legal Aid management simply did not feel

compelled to change them.

ln 1968-69, these public defenders took matters

into their own hands by founding the Association

of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALM), which

conducted five major strikes between 1970 and

1994. Although widely decried as” unprofessional”

by the city’s political, judicial, and corporate elites,

these strikes were catalysts for systemic improvement

of indigent criminal representation in New

York City, including continuity of representation

(assignment of the same triallpwyer throughout

a given case), retention of experienced attorneys

through higher compensation, workload limits,

affirmative action, and health and safety.

Thus, for more than three decades, labor relations

in New York City’s criminal justice system

have been characterized by a recurring cycle of

accumulated grievances, strikes, and their aftermath.

Industry Background (1876-


In 1876, Der Deutsche-Rechtsschutz-Verein was

established to provide free legal assistance to

German immigrants, primarily in civil matters.

In 1896, under the auspices of leading members

of the private bar, it was renamed the Legal Aid

Society. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth

centuries, criminal defense representation was

typically provided by private solo practitioners,

often members of immigrant communities,· for a

fee. During the Progressive Era, however, the legal

elite came to regard such attorneys as an impedi666


ment to swift and sure deterrence of immigrant

crime. Lawyers for the rich were also concerned

that poor immigrants felt “that they were being

denied redress, protection and equality before the

law,” particularly in regard to ineffective criminal

defense representation. The resulting political

radicalization, warned Legal Aid Society president

Charles Evans Hughes in a 1920 speech before the

American Bar Association, threatened to “open

a broad road to Bolshevism” in the United States.

Although initially concerned that the “public

defender movement” was a socialist plot designed

to undermine private profit, the legal elite ultimately

agreed with other reformers “to accept

the replacement of private lawyers in indigent

[criminal] cases, because they feared that assigned

counsel gave the poor legitimate grievances that

contributed to social unrest and presented an on-·

going impediment to the efficient administration

of criminal justice.” In 1914, the first such indigent

public defender office was established in Los Angeles.

Subsequent years witnessed a national shift

to such agencies, the public or private character of

which depended on the influence of the organized

bar in a particular jurisdiction.

These early reformers, the legal elite, and

institutional defenders all agreed that public defense

institutions should adopt a nonadversarial

approach. In the words of one leading public defender

advocate, the prosecution and defense

worked together to ensure that “no innocent man .

may suffer or a guilty man escape.” WithotJ.t the

financial incentive to prolong a case, it was argued,·

public defenders would encourage most defendants

to plead guilty, if necessary by seeking to

withdraw from cases in which” guilty” clients were

intransigent. Rather than seeking “technical” defenses

or go to trial, public defenders encouraged

their clients to testify, thereby ensuring that only

an innocent person was acquitted, and appeals

were brought only on merit.

Pursuant to this model, the New York Legal

Aid Society gradually took on a growing but still

limited number of criminal defense assignments.

This qualitatively changed only as a result of the

U.S. Supreme Court’s 1963 decision in Gideon,

which greatly broadened the right of counsel to

criminal defendants, regardless of their ability to

hire a lawyer.

Most major cities responded to Gideon by

establishing or expanding a governmental public

defender office. Instead, New York City government

contracted with the already-existing Legal

Aid Society to serve as its primary public defender

organization. To fulfill this contract, the Society

hired hundreds of young public defenders, many

of them heavily influenced by the civil rights, stude-

nt, and anti-war movements.

These new defenders were appalled by the

contrast between Gideon’s lofty promise and the

grim reality of daily Legal Aid practice. As Gerald

Lefcourt recounted in a 1994 interview with the

author, when he joined the Society in 1968:

I had no training at all. There was no orientation.

… There were no mock trials. We did arraignments

for a month, and then we were thrown

into battle. I had no clue as to what the right thing

was to do. We had no research tools … no real

offices, no telephones. We couldn’t call witnesses.

There was no anything. I never interviewed a

defendant except in the prison or on the floor

of the hallway right before a hearing or trial. In

the back of my mind, I knew that I should do an

investigation, but there were only one or two

investigatorsoperating out of Manhattan for the

whole [Legal Aid] Society.

Moreover, clients (mostly African American or

Latino) saw different Legal Aid lawyers (mostly

white males) at each court appearance.

Lefcourt and others responded by organizing

the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, an independent

union that was certified as the lawyers’ exclusive

bargaining representative in December 1969.

(The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys affiliated

with District 65, an independent general union in

1978, and the union became a local of the United

Auto Workers [UAW] in 1996.) Several months

later, city jail inmates rebelled, in part to protest

the poor quality of Legal Aid representation. The

Society responded by threatening to terminate

its contract with the city to defend criminals unless

it received more funding. After briefly toying

with the idea of a public defender system, the city

provided a small amount of additional money.

Regarding this as merely a token gesture, on May

3-6, 1970, amid international protest against the


U.S. invasion of Cambodia, Legal Aid attorneys

in Manhattan conducted the first lawyers’ strike

in the United States.

The legal establishment reacted with hostility.

The New York Law Journal cited “authoritative

sources” who “blame[ d) the strike on the increasing

number of so-called ‘militant’ attorneys who

have joined the society in recent years … [and

whose] attitude … is that only through action can

change be accomplished.”

This brief strike yielded mixed results. To

counteract favoritism and promote attorney job

retention, the union’s first contract included a

twelve-step salary scale; direct client representation,

however, was not significantly improved.

Tile 1973 Strike

Three years later, Legal Aid attorneys hoped that

such conditions would be remedied by the unprecedented

federal court decision in Wallace v. Kern

(392 R Supp. 834), which ordered a limit on Legal

Aid’s criminal caseload. On June 27, 1973, however,

these hopes were dashed when the federal appellate

court overturned the decision on jurisdictional

grounds. On July 2, therefore, Legal Aid attorneys

voted 178 to 79 to strike for lower caseloads, private

client interview facilities, stenographic help, more

time for research, better salaries, and, above all,

continuity of representation.

The strikers were immediately attacked by

the presiding appellate court justices. As reported

in the July 6, 1973, New York Law journal, these

justices denounced the strikers for “abandoning

the responsibility to the indigent which union

members assumed upon their employment,”

recruited private attorney strikebreakers, and

threatened that if the strike did not end, “we will

be compelled to take such action as is warranted

by the circumstances.”

Union president Karen Faraguna answered

this attack by arguing, as reported in the July 17

New York Times, that the inadequate quality of Society

representation had been” abandoning [clients]

for years,” and that, as reported in the July 9 New

York Law Journal, “we are on strike to implement

the very [continuity] recommendations made by

the Appellate Divisions’ own committee.” She also

pointed out, reported the July 3 New York Daily

News, that “in the next five years we will represent

one million indigent clients. We are determined

to create conditions under which they can be

represented justly and effectively …. This strike

will be won when no longer will you hear a judge

ask a defendant: ‘Do you want a lawyer or do you

want legal aid?'”

Perhaps the most effective answer came from

forty-one inmates who refused to leave their cells

for court appearances.

The broader legal community was split. As for

the mainstream bar, the New York Times reported

that “from the Wall Street firms and the Associa··

tion of the Bar of the City of New York-publicly

at least-came not a word of support for their

ov’erburdened brethren.” However, in a July 2

New York Law Journal advertisement, the National

Lawyers Guild and National Conference of Black

Lawyers asked private lawyers to refuse reassignment

of the Society’s struck work, pointing out

that “your acceptance of [strikers:] assignments

will decrease the effectiveness of the strike. We

ask you to consider seriously the implications

of the present crisis and to join us in supporting

the Association’s action.” An advertisement

in the July 19 New York Law ,Journal, signed by

professors at New York and Hofstra law schools,

“urge[d] members of the private Bar to support

this important [strike].” Similar statements of support

were issued by the New York Civil Liberties

Union and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and

Education Fund.

When the strike ended just six days later on

July 9, the ALAA had won continuity of representation

within the same court, to “the maximum

extent feasible,” and an experimental program

for continuity between misdemeanor and felony

courts. New York 1Ymes columnist Tom Wicker, who

had covered the Gideon case, wrote approvingly

that “the net effect … should be to treat a client’s

case more nearly as his or her case rather than as a

file folder. That is what the constitutional right to

legal counsel is all about.”

The 1973 contract also established workload

grievance mechanisms, salary increases, eventual

“substantial parity” with assistant district

attorneys, shorter probationary periods, greater

Spanish-language training, confidential interview

conditions, greater office space, and the provision


of office equipment, such as desks, chairs, and


In practice, however, the 1973 strike yielded

few representational improvements. Although

the number of Legal Aid public defenders had

tripled since 1970, the agency remained starved

for adequate city funding and attorneys still lacked

adequate offices, interview space, or workload

limits. Moreover, judges undermined the contractually

mandated continuity experiment and

were increasingly hostile to Legal Aid attorneys’

vigorous advocacy.

The 1974 Strike

In response to these conditions, union members

set a strike deadline for September 11, 1974. When

management nonetheless equivocated on continuity

of representation and blamed the city for

the Society’s refusal to offer meaningful raises,

attorneys voted 193 to 144 to walk out.

Echoing their ‘1973 attack on the union, the

presiding appellate justices declared, according

to the New York Daily News, that Legal Aid strikers

were “attorneys, professionals, not day laborers,

and should act accordingly,” and threatened to

bring disciplinary charges, recommendations of

dismissal, and replacement by private attorneys.

The same newspaper also reported the

union’s reply that “we are striking today because

the judiciary and the management of The Legal

Aid Society have continued to ignore their ;responsibility

to indigent defendants in this state.

… The Presiding Justices’ statement amounts to

the ancient practice of strikebreaking.” The union

filed charges at the National Labor Relations

Board (NLRB) against the presiding justices and

repeatedly offered to end the strike in exchange

for binding arbitration, a proposal rejected by

the Society. Speaking to a strike rally, then-House

member Edward I. Koch responded to the presiding

justices by declaring, as recounted years later

in a 1982 News World article, that “to threaten a

man-any man-be he lawyer or laborer, with

Joss of employment, loss of the right to earn his

living at his chosen occupation for speaking his

mind, for striking to improve his lot, is not only

uncalled for but repugnant to our law.”

But by the end of the nineteen-day strike,

about one-third of the attorneys had crossed

the picket line because, Faraguna recalled in an

interview years later, “many people did not want

another strike when improvements were in progress.”

Thus, the remaining strikers returned to

work, even though management remained free to

modify, or even to abandon, continuity in order to

handle more cases. As the New York State Bar journal

late:J; explained,

When it was over, the strikers returned to work

with a lot less than they had at the beginning.

They were out 20 days’ pay. The future of their

five-year-old union-called with proper professional

dignity The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys

of the City of New York-was in jeopardy.

And the two issues over which they walked out

in the first place-cost-of-living increases and the

right to represent their clients from the start to

finish of each case-were still unresolved.

In June 1975, the union sustained another

blow, when a committee of the New York County

Lawyers Association issued an opinion that the

strike had violated professional ethics. Attorneys

nonetheless conducted a one-day strike on October

26, 1976, to reinstate a colleague deemed to have

been fired for her union activity.

The 1982 Stdke

In negotiations over a 1982 contract wage reopener,

the union, which by now had affiliated with District

65, UAW, again sought salary comparability

with assistant district attorneys. At the same time,

Rockefeller drug laws enacted in the mid-1970s

had further exacerbated attorney workload, in

response to which management increased the

pressure on individual attorneys. One of these

was Weldon Brewer, an attorney fired in 1982 for

having told a judge that he was unable to file a

motion due to his high caseload.

Brewer’s firing quickly became a symbol for

everything that was wrong with Legal Aid representation.

Legal ethics specialist Monroe H. Freedman,

of Hofstra Law School, writing in an op-ed

piece in the November 7, 1982, New York Times,

declared that Brewer “has taken up the fight where

Mr. Gideon left off,” and former U.S. Attorney GenATTORNEY


eral Ramsey Clark agreed to represent Brewer. On

October 22, enraged by the firing, ALM members

rejected management’s salary offer and voted by

a two-to-one margin to strike.

Staff attorney support for the strike was strong;

by the fifth week, only 5 percent had crossed the

picked line, compared with 30 percent by the third

week of the 1974 strike. Scabs were dealt with

harshly, union spokesperson Gary Sloman told the

New York Law Journal, “because … people who are

working are stabbing us in the back.”

Support staff represented by Local1199 continued

to work, but supported the strike in a wide

variety of ways. The strike was endorsed by local

criminal bar associations, including the New York

Criminal Bar Association, which in a letter appearing

in the New York Law Journal, “urge[d] our

members, and other private lawyers, not to accept

court assignments to indigent defendants now

represented by a striking Legal Aid attorney.”

In the strike’s fifth week, nearly a thousand

strikers and supporters rallied at City Hall Park. On

November 22, UPI reported a speech by Ramsey

Clark, who told a rally of 300 strikers and supporters

that the strike represented “a struggle for

equal justice” in a system that permitted millions

of dollars for defense of the rich, but provided only

“pennies for [defense of] the poor.” On November

26, eighty-one city judges issued a statement citing

the crucial role of Society attorneys in both

civil and criminal cases and called for the quickest

possible resolution of the strike.

Visitors to the picket line included Lt. Governor

Mario Cuomo, City Clerk David Dinkins, City

Council member Ruth Messinger, Judge Bruce

Wright, contingents of court officers and other

unionized court employees, and delegations of

labor and community leaders. Teamsters employed

by United Parcel Service and by heating oil companies

refused to cross picket lines at courthouses and

Legal Aid offices. In a message of support reported

in the union’s November 24, 1982, strike bulletin,

Coretta Scott King wrote: “Martin Luther King,

Jr. [who was assassinated in 1968 while visiting

Memphis to support striking sanitation workers]

gave his life in a trade union struggle, and if he

were with us today, I believe he would also be

among your strongest supporters …. Together we

shall overcome.”

Society supervisors, meanwhile, appeared

on pending criminal cases without files, and were

soon unable to accept new criminal cases at arraignments.

The refusal of private attorneys to cross

the lines to take struck Legal Aid cases-and the

inexperience of many of those who did-caused

numerous criminal defendants to be arraigned

without counsel. As long trial and sentencing

delays piled up, the jails became overcrowded.

Commenting on this logjam, the same issue of the

union strike bulletin made clear that:

None of us gloats over the impact of our strike

on our clients-we all work at Legal Aid because

we believe in our clients’ rights to quality representation

…. Yet we must recognize that our

strongest leverage with management is our ability

to close down the courts and this necessarily

means putting aside the short term needs of our

clients for their long term need for experienced,

conscientious lawyers. It is management’s refusal

to agree to our demand for a decent wage

increase, and indeed its refusal to bargain at all,

which has prolonged the strike, not any action

by the union.

The December 21,1982, strike bulletin reported

that 416 Rikers Island inmates signed a petition

stating that “the striking attorneys are balking at

the very idea of ‘Assembly Line justice.’ Underlying

the demand for salary increase is the less

publicized demand for lighter caseloads and a less

hectic pace …. We, as detainee/defendants, should

all support this strike! It is imperative that they win,

because in the long run, we win!” Similarly, theN ovember

23, 1982, bulletin reported the comments

of one criminal defendant’s mother, who declared

that “[the strikers] are definitely underpaid, and

overworked …. I know what’s right and what’s

wrong-and they’re right.”

Soon, however, the strikers came under fire

from the alliance of Legal Aid management, city

government, court administration, and the press.

Before the strike was even a day old, management

threatened to cut off strikers’ health benefits and to

discipline attorneys, particularly probationers, for

“abandoning” clients. In a November 5 statement,

the Society’s board called the strike “indefensible

economically and incompatible with the Society’s


mission of providing legal representation to the

poor of New York City.” Management counsel

Robert Batterman threatened to seek legislation

prohibiting strikes by Legal Aid attorneys and

sought a court order restraining union disciplinary

proceedings against scabs-who were given free

representation by the Wall Street firm of board

member Robert Patterson. In late Octobe1~ the

union responded by filing an unfair labor practice

charge against management, and in early November

filed a federal lawsuit to enjoin administrative

judges from coercing strikers into returning to


The November 10 New York Daily News reported

that Mayor Koch, who as congressman

had supported the Legal Aid attorneys in their·

1974 strike, had now raised the ante by denouncing

the strikers as” unethical” and instructing City

Criminal Justice Coordinator John Keenan (who,

according to the New York Law Journal, had already

stated publicly that “I don’t think they [Legal Aid

attorneys] should have the right to strike”) to study

“replacing” the Society with a governmental public

defender agency. New York Times editorials labeled

the strike “foolish” and urged Koch to “maintain

the pressure by getting standby legislation that

permits him ‘to replace the society with a public

defender system at any time.” The union’s December

8 strike bulletin publicly challenged this

plan to replace the unionized Legal Aid Society,

asking, “what, then, distinguishes any City attempt

to replace Legal Aid with, for example, the dosing

of a factory and moving of it to another state solely

to avoid unionization? This is the classic runaway

shop situation and is illegal under current labor

law.” On December 21, according to the New York

Law Journal, Koch’s “Keenan Commission” conceded


Creation of a public defender system with simultaneous

abandonment of Legal Aid is not the

course to take. It involves numerous startup costs

and on-going expenses …. There would seem to

be little point in jettisoning an established organization,

well qualified to perform the desired

function, equipped as it is with able personnel

and fortified by long experience … [and) known

for its vigorous independent representation of


The report also found the Society to be of

higher quality and more cost effective than private

(18-B) representation. The commission, however,

called for replacement of the ALAA’ s right to strike

with arbitration binding on the Society and the

union, but not on the city-which funded the

Society’s criminal defense work.

Finally, on January 3, 1983-ten weeks into a

strike that had paralyzed the criminal courts-the

parties reached a settlement. It included an 11.2

percent salary increase over two years (compared

with management’s 4.31 percent prestrike offer),

establishment of a joint union-management

working conditions committee, and selection of

caseload arbitrators. Weldon Brewer would remain

suspended with pay, pending an arbitrator’s decision

(which ultimately upheld his dismissal).

These improvements were the result of a long

strike that had been characterized by a high degree

of democratic rank-and-file control, in which only

46 (or 8.5 percent) of the union’s 540 members

had crossed the line. As a result, no striker was

disciplined by management, the city, the courts, or

the bar. And although the strike cost each striker

thousands of dollars in salary, they had emerged

proude1~ more active, and more confident.

Shortly after the strike, however, a committee

of the Association of the Bar of the City of

New York issued an opinion-at Koch’s urgingsuggesting

that striking Legal Aid attorneys were

ethically obliged to continue to represent their

criminal clients.

The 1994 Strike

The 1982 strike won eight years of relative labor

peace. From 1990 to 1992, however, conflict erupted

when, after years of rising attorney workload, due

largely to a dramatic increase in prosecution for

crack cocaine, management sought to reduce attorney

health benefits and other compensation. The

ALMand 1199 support staff, working in unprecedented

alliance, conducted a series of escalating

protests, one-day strikes, and other actions.

By 1994, however, a strike seemed unlikely. In

June, the Society had convinced the city to deal

with the costly and poor-quality criminal representation

provided by private (18-B) lawyers by

increasing Legal Aid’s role. As a result of relentATTORNEY


less labor strife, the Society’s board of directors

came under the control of a more union-friendly

leadership, which agreed to raise senior attorney

salaries, implement more aggressive affirmative

action, improve health and safety, and otherwise

lift the quality of representation. A settlement

was anticipated by October 1, when the union’s

contract would expire.

In the middle of September, however, the expected

agreement was effectively vetoed by Mayor

Rudolph Giuliani, who declared it inconsistent

with his hardline position in upcoming municipal

labor negotiations. Although the Society emphasized

that it would self-fund the agreement, the

mayor issued an ultimatum: even modest salary

increases would provoke his severe displeasure.

Fearing retribution from its primary source of

funds, the Society agreed.

When the union contract expired on October

1, the mayor personally vowed to cancel Legal

Aid’s contracts if the attorneys struck; his criminal

justice coordinator privately reminded the union

that when Giuliani worked for Ronald Reagan

he had helped break the 1981 air traffic controller

(PATCO) strike.

At a mass meeting on the morning of Monday,

October 3, union members weighed their

options. Despite the mayor’s threats, most would

neither accept a net cut in compensation nor surrender

their National Labor Relations Act rights,

as private sector employees, to strike. Moreover,

many believed that Society management would

capitulate before Giuliani could actually carry out

his threat, or simply felt that they had no choice but

to fight back. Thus, attorneys voted overwhelmingly

to strike, before marching down the middle

of Broadway to join picket lines already erected by

striking 1199 support staff.

Within minutes, as reported by the New York

Times, Giuliani went on live television to declare

that “The canon of ethics says that you can’t

abandon cases, so I don’t know where lawyers

come off striking. And here they are abandoning

cases for an entire city. I’m not going to let

them do that.” Although Legal Aid supervisors

were prepared to fully staff the courts, Giuliani

unilaterally terminated all of the Society’s city

contracts, which, he said, would be replaced by

new agreements with other contractors. As a

result, he was quoted in the New York Daily News

saying, “This will be the last time lawyers strike

against the public interest.”

Although some press reports portrayed the

strikers sympathetically, the city elite enthusiastically

supported the mayor’s hardline position.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Arthur Liman,

a former Legal Aid Society president and onetime

Iran-Contra prosecutor, said that Giuliani “had a

responsibility” to end the walkout. The Daily News

editorialized that ‘/while [strikers] have every right

to bargain and demand higher wages, their ability

to shut down something as vital as the courts gives

them too much power … they must be held to the

same no-strike law as other key city employees.

. . ‘. They must never again be permitted to hold

the city hostage.”

The next day, Tuesday, October 4, the ALM

sought countermomentum with a mass press

conference on the City Hall steps. Foreshadowing

Giuliani’s later restrictions on First Amendment

expression, hundreds of police prevented the media

from contact with the strikers, who defiantly

chanted //Rudy, Rudy is his name, union-busting

is his game.”

Notably absent, however, were Governor Mario

Cuomo or City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, both

of whom were leading Democrats. Also missing

were leaders of the major municipal unions. On

October 5, the New York Times reported that Stanley

Hill, executive director of the American Federation

of State, County and Municipal Employees DC 37,

had publicly advised both sides to return to the

bargaining table. Six days later the New York Post

reported that Sonny Hall, president of Transport

Workers Union Local100 (subway and bus workers),

said, /The Legal Aid lawyers’ strike was indeed

a careless act, although they had an excellent case

for their demands …. Our concern is not why the

mayor said no, but how he said it.” Privately, the

leadership of both DC 37 and the United Federation

of Teachers (UFT) assured Giuliani that they were

1/neutral” about the attorneys’ strike, presumably

in hopes of softening the mayor’s demands for

$200 million in cuts in their members’ health care

benefits. As the New York Times explained:

Whether the Legal Aid workers realized it, they

had walked off their jobs at a critical point in


the city’s relationship with its work force. Mr.

Giuliani, having just completed a round of

budget cuts and staff reductions, has now gone

back to the workers, seeking more job cuts and

asking them to start contributing toward their

health-care benefits …. The Giuliani administration

seemed to fear that by striking, the lawyers

threatened the spirit of collective sacrifice.

Or, as City University of New York professor

Stanley Aronowitz pointed out, “Labor’s strategy

has become Giuliani’s strategy. The big fry make

their deals.”

Similarly, many private lawyers regarded the

1994 strike as an opportunity for enrichment rather

than solidarity, as they told Newsday. “I’ve got to

make a living,” explained attorney William Blasi,

who was anxious to pick up struck cases. Mitchell

Salloway, another private attorney, rejoiced that,

for him, the strike meant: “More cases. More

money. More food on the table.”

Further emb’oldened by such support, Giuliani

announced that any striking attorney who

did not return to work by the following morning

would be permanently blacklisted from all

future city-fvnded representation. Under these

overwhelming threats, the strikers returned to

work on Wednesday morning, and that evening,

they voted 544 to 150 to ratify a slightly improved·


This brief but intense battle left attorneys feeling

a mixture of bitterness, defiance, and pride.· One

junior attorney, Young Ran Ra, told the New York

Times that “when I took this job I knew I wouldn’t

be paid well, but. .. [a] lot of people are contemplating

leaving because of what has happened.” Luis

Roman said, “if I’m back here tomorrow, the sign

on my door will read ‘Dump Rudy Headquarters.”‘

Mary Beth Mullaney spoke for many when she said,

in a letter printed in the New York Times,

Seven months ago I left my family and friends in

Irmo, S.C. … to work as a staff attorney for the

Legal Aid Society in New York It is the job I had

most wanted. On Oct. 1, I went on strike with

about 800 of my colleagues …. I was asking Legal

Aid Society management to redistribute funds

already within the society …. There was nothing

unethical about the strike …. I am ridiculed

by my family and friends for the work I do. But

I am proud of it because I am fighting to uphold

individual rights for everyone, not just those

who can afford it.

However, the New York Times praised Giuliani’s

“firm foundation in fiscal reality” and declared that

the strike had been” a foolish challenge.” Writing in

th<; New York Post, former Mayor Ed Koch praised

Giuliani’s” courage in taking on the striking Legal

Aid attorneys.” Newsday quoted Lawrence Kudlow,

economics editor of the right-wing National Review

and a chief budget economist in the Reagan administration,

who predicted that “Giuliani’s action

on the Legal Aid lawyers was a very significant

development; to some extent it’s a New York City

version of Reagan’s PATCO confrontation ….

I’m sure it has sent a lot of public union officials


Opposition to the mayor’s conduct fell to

commentators such as writer and former public

defender James S. Kunen, who wrote in the New

York Times that “the strike was fated to fail because

these advocates for the indigent were demanding

the one form of compensation their fellow citizens

are unwilling to give them: respect.” In Newsday,

radical labor analyst Robert Fitch predicted that

municipal unions would suffer from their abandonment

of the Legal Aid strikers:

What’s surprising is not that Giuliani broke the

[ALM] strike by threatening to fire everybody

and is now picking his teeth today with the attorneys’

bones. It’s that the rest of the city’s municipal

labor movement-once regarded as the

most militant and powerful in America-mostly

looked on while the mayor gnawed away on the

carcasses of their fellow trade unionists.

The mayor, however, seemed determined to

inflict further punishment for the brief strike. According

to Newsday, he declared that the attorneys

“have a hope, not a reality of keeping their jobs,”

and he vowed that any “new [contract] between

the Society and the city … [must] prohibits trikes in

the future.” When blocked by an NLRB investigation

from pursuing a permanent ban on Legal Aid

strikes, he demanded an immediate $13 million cut

in the Society’s $79 million city criminal defense


funding. This cut led Legal Aid criminal-defense

attorneys to surrender a week’s compensation in

order to prevent the layoff of 1199 support staff and

junior attorneys. The New York Times applauded

these cuts for yielding II cheaper, more efficient

defense services.”

Mayor Giuliani also announced plans to transfer

an additional 25 percent of the Society’s city

criminal funding to nonunion contractors, thereby

ensuring, reported the New York Times, that the city

would “no longer be at the mercy of one group that

could decide in the future to go out on strike, and

then all of a sudden you have a massive backup

in the criminal justice system.”

But strikebreaking was not the mayor’s only

purpose. The autumn 1995 City journal, a publication

of the Manhattan Institute, a Giuliani administration

think tank allied with the right-wing

I-Ieritage Foundation, charged that the Society

was dominated by the union and “leftist” poverty

lawyers whose successful representation of public

housing tenants, the homeless, and juvenile offenders

had interfered with the Giuliani administration’s

efforts II to improve the city’s quality

of life.” But “with Legal Aid cut down to a more

appropriate size,” the mayor could ;’undertake a

broad legal and political counterattack against the

pernicious consent decrees and court mandates …

[and] campaign more effectively in the Legislature

for needed reforms in such areas as juvenile justice

and homeless policy.”

Recognizing such motives, Council member

Adam Clayton Powell IV, representing East Harlem

and the Bronx, was quoted in the New York Times

as denouncing the transfer of Legal Aid funds to

nonunion contractors as “another vicious attack

in a long line of vicious attacks on the poor, the

African-Americans and Hispanics who get caught

up in this system. For [Giuliani] to be taking this

type of action simply as retribution for the strike

that they undertook last year is really appalling.”

Similar statements were issued by former mayor

David Dinldns and the Central Labor Council. The

Amsterdam News wrote:

Giuliani has been more cruel than human, on

the cutting edge of the kind of psychosis that

he regards poor whites, Blacks and Hispanics

as butterflies, whose wings he can tear off with

impunity while he has the temporary power of

the bully …. The Legal Aid Society has taken a

bold step [of opposing new Giuliani indigent

defense contractors]. It is imperative that they

be supported.

The bluntest statement, jointly issued by the

Center for Constitutional Rights, the National

Conference of Black Lawyers, National Emergency

Civil Liberties Comrnittee, and the National Lawyers

Guild stated that they “reaffirm our support

for The Legal Aid Society and its unions in reversing

Mayor Giuliani’s attacks, in particular, call for

attorneys to withhold any and all aid and comfort

to new strikebreaker indigent defense agencies.”

‘ By July 1998, the Giuliani administration used

such contracts to slash Legal Aid criminal funding

by an additional $13 million, without any significant

decrease in the Society’s overall workload,

leading one judicial oversight body to report, according

to Newsday, that the Socie.ty ‘/is obligated

to represent almost the same number of clients for

substantially fewer dollars,” thereby overwhelming

Legal Aid attorneys with impossible caseloads,

arraignments, and other work. In the process, this

posts trike de-funding seriously; weakened continuity

of representation and other gains long fought

for by the ALM.

Ironically, howeve1~ this same period led to

dramatic improvement in the Society’s internal

labor-management relations, including the Legal

Aid board’s deliberate rejection of the mayor’s

demand to break the ALM, and its appointment

of new management whose primary mission was

to ensure labor peace.

As a result of such changes, ALM contracts

in 1998 and 2000 yielded an average 6 percent

compensation increase-by far the greatest in the

ALAA’ s history, and far higher than that negotiated

by municipal unions for the same period.

Moreover, both the ALM and 1199 won a unique

level of influence over the Society’s hiring, promotion,

legal practice, budget, and other critical

issues. Not until after Giuliani left office in 2001,

however, were the Society and its unions able to

recoup some of the millions in lost city funds. And

Giuliani’s nonunion contractors have outlived his

administration, thereby posing an ongoing threat

to the unionized Society.


Since it was founded in 1876, the Legal Aid

Society in New York City-the oldest and largest

legal aid agency in the United States-became

the national model for small, private nonprofit

charities representing indigent clients in civil

(and later juvenile) cases. In the 1960s, however,

it was largely transformed into the world’s largest

indigent-criminal defense (or public defender)

agency. Within just a few years, this nearly unique

transformation led to the first attorney strikes in

the United States. Therefore, New York City’s

Legal Aid strikes, which took place between 1970

and 1994, have been a response to the often-dismal

state of indigent criminal defense representation.

See also: Three Strikes Against the New York City Transit

System, 277.


Letwin, Michael. “History of The Association of Legal

Aid Attorneys UAW Local 2325.” Available at www.

alaa.orypages/History.pdf. Revised August 1999.

Lindenauer, Susan E. “Equal Justice: The History of the

New York Legal Aid Society.” Update on Law-Related

Education 18, no. 3 (Fall1994).

“Legal Aid Society.” In The Encyclopedia of New York City,

ec;l. Kenneth T. Jackson, 661-62. New Haven: Yale

University Press, 1995.

Legal Aid Society. Encyclopedia of Company Histories (n.d. ).

Available at

Mirsky, Chester L. “The Political Economy and Indigent

Defense: New York City, 1917-1998.” In 1997 Annual

Survey of American Law, 891-1017.

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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