ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

November 9, 2012

2012.11.09: Welcome to the Attorneys of Color of Legal Aid (ACLA)

Filed under: ALAA History,Key Documents,Uncategorized — nyclaw01 @ 1:43 pm
Tags:

ACLA was founded in 1990 by staff attorneys of color from the criminal, civil, and volunteer divisions, together with the Executive Director and President of ALAA, primarily to address the dismal record of hiring and retaining attorneys of color throughout the society.  We are a caucus of ALAA,  have a representative on the Executive Board, and actively participate not only in contract bargaining, but in other negotiations concerning our members and our communities.  Membership is open to all attorneys of color in the society.

Through the efforts of ACLA language was added to the ALAA contract requiring LAS to:

  • hire an Affirmative Action Officer;
  • establish a Joint Affirmative Action Task Force (Committee)
  • notify the union of all job openings
  • keep and provide to ACLA/ALAA statistics on the hiring and retention of attorneys of color;
  • incorporate the participation of attys of color in the interview and hiring process;
  • make expedited offers to atty of color;
  • systematically evaluate staff attys of color for supervisory position;
  • provide mandatory diversity training for staff and supervisors in the areas of race, gender, and sexual orientation; and,
  • conduct exit interviews of all attys of color.

In addition, recruitment, hiring, and retention procedures were adopted by some divisions of the society which were specifically designed to increase both the pool of applicants of color and the number of attys of color hired within the society.  ACLA was instrumental in the development of these procedures and your presence here today is a direct result of those efforts.

Our work is not just directed to the on-goings within LAS.  We create and maintain ties to the communities we come from and serve.  Our members participate in community trainings and educational seminars.  We add our voice to legal and non-legal issues of concern to our clients and our communities, and remain accessible to provide information, assistance, or guidance when requested.

However, despite our best efforts, much work is still to be done.  Some of the gains we made at LAS have either been lost through contract negotiations or have been underutilized.  We cannot afford to backslide any further.  We not only have to reclaim what has been lost but also move forward.

We invite you to join us.  We need you to join us.  In the coming weeks and months we will be working on several important issues including: contract negotiations, finalizing the LAS Affirmative Action Plan; and, establishing a society wide hiring policy.  We will also be working on the problems regarding excessive caseloads and their detrimental effects on our clients and community as well as other issues brought up by the membership.

Please sign up and let us know which issues you are interested in working on.  There is an attendance/sign- up sheet circulating and a calendar of our future meetings.  Thank you all for coming;  enjoy the food, music, and company;  have a great time;  and hope to see you soon.

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September 17, 2012

2012.09.17: Chicago Teachers: Your Fight is Our Fight: Solidarity Message from NYC Legal Aid Society Union Members

Filed under: Labor Solidarity,Uncategorized — nyclaw01 @ 11:45 am
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Chicago Teachers: Your Fight is Our Fight
Solidarity Message from NYC Legal Aid Society Union Members
September 17, 2012

As members of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325 and 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East at The Legal Aid Society in New York City, we stand in solidarity with the Chicago Teachers Union strike against Rahm Emanuel’s attack on children, teachers, public education, and labor rights.

We well know that your fight is our fight.

As parents, we too have seen the bipartisan power elite write off children thorough an apartheid of budget cuts to public schools, nonunion charter schools for the few, and the school-to-prison pipeline for the rest.[1]

As providers of legal representation to poor people and communities of color, we have seen the devastating results of those policies in the New Jim Crow.

We too have faced mayoral bullies, including Rudolph Giuliani, who threatened to fire us in 1994 for striking to defend those services, and then retaliated by slashing our funding in favor of nonunion contractors.[2]

Like the rest of the 99%, we are told there “is no money” for essential services, while trillions are squandered to bail out the 1% and to fund endless wars of empire.

Like you, we remember that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968 after denouncing an “illegal, unconstitutional injunction” against striking sanitation workers in Memphis.[3] And we believe that his words to those strikers ring true for teacher strikers in Chicago 2012:

“You’ve been out now for a number of days. But don’t despair. Nothing worthwhile is gained without sacrifice. The thing for you to do is stay together. Say to everybody in this community that you’re going to stick it out to the end until every demand is met. And that you’re going to say, ‘We ain’t going to let nobody turn us around.’ “[4]

Just as in Memphis 1968, we know that your victory is critical in the battle for social justice, and we vow to uphold the most fundamental labor principle: “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.”

Contribute to the CTU Solidarity Fund:

https://afl.salsalabs.com/o/4013/c/468/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=7204

Notes

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prM0HWKrWVI

[2] https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/history-of-the-association-of-legal-aid-attorneys-uaw-local-2325/

[3] http://www.hark.com/clips/wrycvzqpjx-ive-been-to-the-mountain-top-part-3

[4] http://www.aft.org/yourwork/tools4teachers/bhm/mlkpeech031868.cfm

Signers (Affiliations listed for identification only)

Michael Letwin
Criminal Defense‑Brooklyn
Former President, ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Lucy Herschel
Criminal Defense-Queens
Delegate, 1199/SEIU

Noha Arafa
Criminal Defense-Brooklyn
Delegate, ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Melissa Ballowe
Juvenile-Staten Island
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Lina Del Plato
Juvenile Rights-Bronx
Delegate, ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Lisa Edwards
Civil-Harlem
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Nicholas Frayn
Criminal Defense-Queens
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Jonathan Garelick
Criminal Appeals
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Chandra Gomes
Criminal Defense-Queens
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Jessica Gusberg
Juvenile-Brooklyn
1199/SEIU

Anna Kalliagas
Criminal Defense-Queens
1199/SEIU

Pooja Kothari
Criminal Defense‑Brooklyn
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Rebecca Kurti
Criminal Defense‑Brooklyn
1199/SEIU

Kristin Lew
Criminal Defense-Manhattan
Negotiating Committee, 1199/SEIU

Susan Olivia Morris
Criminal Defense-Brooklyn
Alternate Vice President, ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Stephanie Pope
Criminal Defense-Staten Island
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Mimi Rosenberg
Civil-Brooklyn Neighborhood Office
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Hannah Shapiro
Civil-Brooklyn Neighborhood Office
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Jodi Smith
Criminal Defense-Bronx
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Steve Terry
Criminal Defense‑Brooklyn
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Azalia Torres
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn
Former Sr. Attorney & Attorneys of Color (ACLA) Representative, ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Carol J. Hochberg
Juvenile Rights-Queens
Alternate Delegate, ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Julie Fry
Criminal Defense-Brooklyn
Vice President, ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Aisha Lewis-McCoy
Criminal Defense-Immigration Unit
Trustee, ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Jessica Warner
Juvenile Rights-Brooklyn
1199/SEIU

Steve Wasserman
Criminal Defense-Special Litigation Unit
Delegate, ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Jacob Rolls
Criminal Defense‑Brooklyn
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Florence Morgan
Criminal Defense‑Queens
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

August 17, 2012

2012.08.17: Digest of ALAA-Related Statements on Social Justice Issues (1986-2010)

Digest of ALAA-Related Statements on Social Justice Issues (1986-2010)
Compiled by Michael Letwin (August 17, 2012)
Important note: unless so indicated, the statements below do not necessarily reflect official positions of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325.
 
1986-1989
Opposition to Racist Violence and Police Abuse
ALAA Affirmative Action Committee-CDD Brooklyn works with external allies, including the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, to protest racist murders of Michael Griffith in Howard Beach (1986), Derrick Tyrus in Staten Island (1988) Yusef Hawkins in Bensonhurst (1989), and elsewhere.
http://bobzuss.wordpress.com/2007/06/01/october-29-1988-protest-against-racist-murder-in-staten-island/
 
June 15, 1987
Open Letter on the Goetz Trial
(City Sun letter by ALAA Affirmative Action Committee-CDD Brooklyn)
“As public defenders, we represent clients who overwhelmingly are young Black and Latino men. From this perspective, we express our outrage with the Goetz decision and with the atmosphere of pervasive racism that permeated the entire case from the time of the Goetz arrest until now.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/1987/06/15/1987-06-15-an-open-letter-on-the-goetz-trial-city-sun/
 
August 17, 1988
Institutionalized Racism In the Criminal Justice System
(City Sun op-ed by ALAA delegate Michael Letwin)
“The entire relationship between the criminal justice system and the minority communities is based on institutionalized racism of the most profound sort.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/1988/08/17/1988-08-17-institutionalized-racism-in-the-criminal-justice-system-city-sun/
 
June 25, 1989
Proposal for Law Enforcement Intelligence Project
(ALAA-CDD Brooklyn)
“The following is a proposal for a CDD project to systematically collect, evaluate and disseminate to CDD attorneys intelligence on law enforcement procedures, forms and personnel which is crucial to the defense of our clients.”
 
September 29, 1989
N.Y. Justice: Not Color-Blind
(NY Times op-ed by ALAA VP Michael Letwin)
“The criminal justice system and the media are sending a clear message every day that black and Latino lives are of less value than those of whites. In doing so, they must take responsibility for helping to set the stage for the killing of Yusuf Hawkins.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/1989/09/
 
February 1, 1990
Legal Aid Attorneys Protest at B’klyn Jail
(NY Newsday report)
“Letwin and others said they are angry that the officers were not suspended. ‘Why are police officers who commit abuse above the law?’ he said to a cheering crowd of Legal Aid attorneys and sympathetic onlookers.”
 
Spring 1990
Report From the Front Line: The Bennett Plan, Street-Level Drug Enforcement in New York City and the Legalization Debate
(Hofstra Law Review article by ALAA President Michael Letwin)
“[T]he New York City experience illustrates the need for drug legalization, unprecedented programs to combat drug abuse, and-above all-a fundamental transformation in the overall condition of the inner-cities.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/1990/04/
 
August 15, 1990
After Uprising at Rikers, Guards Are Said to Have Beaten Inmates
(NY Times news report)
”There is photographic evidence of the blood on the wall,” said Mr. Letwin, whose group represents 1,000 New York City Legal Aid lawyers. ”There was no resistance, there was no provocation. It was like declaring open season on inmates.”
http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/16/nyregion/after-uprising-at-rikers-guards-are-said-to-have-beaten-inmates.html
 
September 18, 1990
Cops On the Beat: Back to Basics
(NYS Senate Taskforce testimony of ALAA president Michael Z. Letwin)
“Most fundamentally, any meaningful solution to drug abuse and crime requires that the criminal justice system not be used as a bludgeon against the poor, and that the attention now put toward manufacturing felony records and prison cells be redirected to decent jobs, housing, schools, health care, social services, and to racial and economic justice.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/1990/09/19/1990-09-18-%E2%80%9Ccops-on-the-beat-back-to-basics%E2%80%9D-nys-senate/
 
October 6, 1990
Wrong Way to Fight Crime
(NY Times op-ed by ALAA president Michael Letwin)
“Escalated police programs have succeeded only in crippling the criminal justice system and assaulting predominantly minority New Yorkers with illegal searches and seizures, frame-ups, physical abuse and questionable police shootings. . . . New York and other cities can be made safer only by treating drugs as a health and economic problem.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/1990/10/06/michael-letwin-wrong-way-to-fight-crime-ny-times-october-6-1990/
 
October 9, 1991
Response to editorial “Better Guns for the Good Guys”
(WCBS op-ed by ALAA president Michael Letwin)
“Providing officers guns with hair triggers, heavy caliber and lots of ammunition — such as the NYPD’s 9 mm Glock threatens only to escalate indiscriminate police violence against our citizens, particularly African Americans and Latinos.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/1991/10/11/1991-10-11-reply-to-wcbs-newsradio-88-editorial-%E2%80%9Cbetter-guns-for-the-good-guys%E2%80%9D/
 
May 4, 1992
About Los Angeles: This Means War [Rodney King and L.A. Uprising]
(NY Newsday op-ed by ALAA president Michael Letwin)
“Until there is a change in the policy of using police to ‘contain’ minority communities, we should not be surprised when victims of the resulting abuse retaliate in kind and riot.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/1992/05/04/about-los-angeles-this-means-war/
 
June 3, 1993
Plan to Curtail Street Crime and Turf Wars [Drug Wars]
(American Lawyer letter by ALAA president Michael Letwin)
“[D]ecriminalization would provide the immediate benefit of dramatically curtailing street crime and turf wars, and of ameliorating the gross institutional racism of the war on drugs. Perhaps then we can focus on the need for racial and economic justice which alone can address the problem of inner-city drug abuse.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/1993/06/
 
June 4, 1993
Rockefeller Drug Laws 20 Years Later
(NYS Assembly Testimony of ALAA president Michael Letwin)
“Those of us who work in the City’s criminal justice have found that the drug war has routinely subjected inner-city communities to illegal search and seizure; indiscriminate arrest sweeps and false prosecutions; and physical abuse and unjustified shootings by police. . . . Thus, the real solution to drug abuse is to accompany drug decriminalization with a real war against abuse which includes treatment on demand, a ban on profit from or advertisement for crack-type drugs, and above all, a broad program of racial and economic justice.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/1993/06/04/1993-06-04-the-rockefeller-drug-laws-20-years-later-nys-assembly/
 
February 3, 1994
Three Strikes And You’re Out, Mario [Mandatory Minimum Sentencing and the Drug Wars]
(NY Newsday op-ed by ALAA president Michael Letwin)
” ‘Tough’ policies serve only to condemn almost one in four young African-American male New Yorkers to jail, prison, probation or parole — a rate higher than even in South Africa.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/1994/02/03/1994-02-03-three-strikes-and-youre-out-mario-new-york-newsday/
 
April 18, 1994
Sentencing Angela Thompson [Mandatory Minimum Sentencing and the Drug Wars]
(NYLJ op-ed by ALAA president Michael Letwin)
“While Ms. Thompson’s case is perhaps extreme, it reflects a broader pattern which has condemned one in four young African-American male New Yorkers to jail, prison, probation or parole. . . . [W]e must heed U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, who has issued a politically-courageous call for public discussion of decriminalizing drugs in order to undercut the profit, desperation and violence with which they are now hopelessly intertwined.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/1994/04/18/michael-letwin-sentencing-angela-thompson-ny-law-journal-april-18-1994/
 
October 20, 1997
Joint Police Conduct Committee
Following police torture of Abner Louima, ALAA Collective Bargaining Agreement, § 4.12.2. (Appendix) establishes joint Joint Union-Management Police Conduct Committee, one of whose responsibilities is to “examine the mission of, and available funding for, a dedicated Society-wide unit to address police misconduct, abuse and brutality through litigation (such as broad injunctive relief and damage claims) and other means.”
 
1997-2002
ALAA and LAS work with CCR Copwatch Project and NLG legal observers
 
March 22, 1999
Labor Joins Protest Over New York Police Killing [Amadou Diallo]
(Labor Notes news article by ALAA president Michael Letwin)
“The largest single labor contingent to be arrested came from the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325, whose members provide legal representation to 300,000 indigent New Yorkers who are frequently victims of police abuse.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/1999/05/01/1999-05-00-labor-joins-protest-over-new-york-police-killing-labor-notes/
 
October 23, 1999
Counter-Klan Rally in Foley Square
(Rally cosponsored by ALAA)
 
December 23, 1999
In Defense of Free Speech, Labor and Civil Rights in New York City
(Statement initiated by ALAA)
“On April 3, 1968, the day before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famous ‘mountaintop’ speech, in which he called for resistance to an ‘illegal, unconstitutional injunction’ against African-American municipal sanitation workers in Memphis. The Giuliani/MTA 1999 order against NYC transit workers — who are also overwhelmingly people of color — is strikingly similar to that Memphis injunction of more than 30 years ago. We, therefore, seek to honor Dr. King’s final battle by condemning these unconscionable orders and by demanding that such egregious violations of free speech, labor, and civil rights never again be permitted to occur.’
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/?s=singapore
 
March 18, 2000
Arrest of ALAA Legal Observer Antonia Codling [Patrick Dorismond]
(DemocracyNow! interview with ALAA president Michael Letwin)
“[T]here was a protest on Saturday, a week before this Saturday, where — around Patrick Dorismond — where a number of people were arrested, including one of our Legal Aid attorneys, who was there as a legal observer, Antonia Codling, who also, like everybody else, was put through the system.” (Charges ultimately dismissed.)
http://www.democracynow.org/2000/3/27/new_york_police_arrest_protestors_at
 
March 22, 2000
Statement on Police Violence and Abuse
(ALAA Delegate Council resolution)
In response to the police murder of Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond and other people of color, ALAA calls for immediate abolition of the Street Crime Unit and Operation Condor; dismissal of police commissioner Howard Safir; federal prosecution, oversight and reform of the NYPD; creation of an independent state agency to prosecute police abuse; and an “End to the ‘War on Drugs,’ including the Draconian Rockefeller sentencing laws, which only serves to promote violent crime, police brutality, and mass criminalization, particularly against communities of color.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2000/03/22/statement-on-police-violence-abuse/
 
April 2000
Legal Aid Union Defends Protesters Arrested After Cops Are Acquitted
(Labor Notes news article by ALAA president Michael Letwin)
“ALAA has argued that Diallo’s death reflects the criminal justice system’s organized hostility to young people of color, as reflected in routine police abuse, unfair trials, Draconian drug laws, and the death penalty. It has also argued that labor has a common interest in uniting with movements opposed to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s attack on legal and constitutional rights, as witnessed curing the transit workers’ contract negotiations last December.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/2000/04/01/2000-04-00-legal-aid-union-defends-protesters-arrested-after-cops-are-acquitted-labor-notes/
 
March 9, 2001
P.D.’s War on Men of Color
(Chief-Leader letter by ALAA president Michael Letwin)
“This pattern of abuse is the predictable consequence of the Street Crime Unit (Diallo), Operation Condor (Dorismond), and department-wide “quality of life” arrest quotas systematically aimed at young black and Latino men — usually for nonviolent and/or petty offenses. . . . By pursuing such search-and-destroy policies, the administration bears ultimate responsibility for taking the lives of people like Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond and Kenneth Banks.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2001/03/21/equal-justice-news-3/
 
March 10, 2001
Labor for Justice: A New Labor-Community Alliance
(ALAA workshop at Critical Resistance Conference)
“Recent dramatic changes in New York City labor that have begun to galvanize an alliance of unions and rank-and-file groups around such issues as labor givebacks, welfare for the rich, and police abuse.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2001/03/08/alaa-at-critical-resistance-east-conference/
 
March 26, 2001
Repeal of Rockefeller Drug Laws
(ALAA union bulletin)
“For the second year in a row, ALAA, 1199 and LAS are mobilizing Society staff for Drop the Rock, a major effort in Albany on March 26 to repeal and/or reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2002/03/07/alaa-union-update-2/
 
May 21, 2001
Reply to Justice on the Cheap
(Unpublished letter to The Nation by ALAA president Michael Letwin)
“This increasingly dysfunctional defense system competes with fully-funded prosecutors, and with an NYPD responsible not only for the infamous Diallo/Dorismond murders, but for feeding thousands of Black and Latino teenagers into the criminal justice assembly line. It is a picture that, each day, makes New York City look more like Texas.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2001/05/16/reply-to-justice-on-the-cheap-the-nation-may-21-2001-2/
 
September 27, 2001
New York City Labor Against the War
(Statement signed by 1,254 labor bodies and trade unionists, including 50 members of ALAA and 74 members of 1199)
“[W]ar will inevitably harm countless innocent civilians, strengthen American alliances with brutal dictatorships and deepen global poverty. . . . For Americans in uniform — the overwhelming number of whom are workers and people of color — it will be another Vietnam. It will generate further terror in this country against Arabs, Muslims, South Asians, people of color and immigrants, and erode our civil liberties.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/2001/09/27/2001-09-27-new-york-city-labor-against-the-war-founding-statement/
 
February 21, 2002
In Defense of Civil Liberties
(ALAA Delegate Council resolution)
“As a labor union whose members fight each day for the statutory and constitutional rights of indigent New Yorkers, The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW Local 2325 denounces the “Bush administration’s broad assault on precious civil liberties and democratic rights,” including the systematic attack on “men of Muslim and Middle Eastern origin.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2002/02/21/in-defense-of-civil-liberties/
 
March 23, 2002
NYC Labor Solidarity With Immigrant Detainees
(Demonstration by ALAA, et al)
“Join trade unionists, immigrant, civil rights, peace, and social justice organizations to oppose the mass detention of foreign nationals since Sept. 11. Most of the detainees are from the Mid-East and South Asia.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/2002/03/23/2002-03-23-report-on-march-23-nyc-and-oakland-labor-protests/
 
September 7, 2002
NYC Labor Solidarity With Immigrant Workers and Detainees
(Demonstration by ALAA, et al)
“ALAA, the UAW and 1199 are among the many labor, civil liberties, community, religious and political organizations to endorse this event, the second day of NYC labor solidarity with post-9/11 immigrants who continue to be detained without charges, some of them secretly and without attorneys.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2002/09/06/defense-of-civil-liberties-tomorrow/
 
January 27, 2003
UAW Antiwar Position
“On January 16, ALAA’s parent union, the 30,000-member UAW Region 9A NY Metro Area CAP Council,  overwhelmingly adopted the resolution below endorsing U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW).”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2003/01/27/uaw-antiwar-position/
 
December 22, 2006
Report On Sean Bell Protests
(E-mail from Michael Letwin to 1199 and ALAA members)
“At yesterday’s Wall Street protest against the murder of Sean Bell, LAS legal observers included Afua Mensah-Atta, Lisa Edwards and Magda Rosa-Rios (CLO); and Reginald Haley, Michael Letwin and Steve Terry (CDD-Bklyn).”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/report-on-sean-bell-protests/
 
March 26, 2007
Justice for Sean Bell
(Statement signed by 54 individual ALAA and 1199 members)
“Police shootings, and the systemic failure to effectively prosecute their perpetrators, shows that the problem is not a ‘few bad apples’ in the NYPD. Rather, they are the predictable result of a criminal justice system that — as a matter of deliberate policy — systematically targets communities of color for search-and-destroy arrest sweeps, widespread criminalization and inhumane drug sentences.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2007/05/18/last-call-for-sean-bell-statement/
 
April 28, 2008
Sean Bell Bulletin
“On Friday evening, activists and members of the community met in front of Queens Supreme Court to protest the acquittal of police officers who killed Sean Bell. Legal Aid staff members present included Lisa Edwards (CLO); Lucy Herschel (CDD-Queens); Mimi Rosenberg (Civil-Brooklyn); and Julie Fry, Michael Letwin, David Ocasio, Nanette Kripke, Laurie Dick, Rebecca Kurti and Noha Arafa (CDD-Brooklyn). We held handmade signs that said, “Legal Aid attorneys against NYPD terrorism” and ‘Legal Aid attorneys for justice.’ Protesters and members of the community told us that they were glad to see Legal Aid staff members present.”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/sean-bell-bulletin/
 
May 8, 2008
Sean Bell Bulletin: Report on Yesterday’s Protests
“Yesterday, at least one thousand people protested around the city against the acquittal of police officers who killed Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets in 2006. Two hundred and sixteen protesters were arrested in peaceful civil disobedience. . . . Legal Aid participants in protests around the city included Antonia Codling (CDD-Bronx); Mimi Rosenberg (Civil-Brooklyn), one of the Brooklyn arrestees; Lucy Herschel (CDD-Queens); and Michael Letwin, Charles Billups and Noha Arafa (CDD-Brooklyn).”
https://alaa2325.wordpress.com/2008/05/08/sean-bell-bulletin-report-on-yesterdays-protests/
 
January 13, 2009
Legal Aid NYC Union Members: Stop Israel’s Massacre in Gaza and End the Siege Now
(Statement by 44 union members at NYC LAS)
“The undersigned members of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325 and 1199SEIU join millions around the world — many of whom are Jewish — to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, Israel’s ongoing massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/2009-01-13-legal-aid-nyc-union-members-stop-israel%E2%80%99s-massacre-in-gaza-and-end-the-siege-now/
 
September 2, 2010
New York City Workers Stand with the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Communities: Our Grief Is Not an Excuse for Racism, Islamophobia, Bigotry or War
(New York City Labor Against the War statement, signed by 8 ALAA members)
“As New York City workers and trade unionists, we deplore the attacks on Park51, desecration of mosques, violence and all other forms of racism, Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/2010-09-07-nyc-workers-stand-with-the-muslim-arab-and-south-asian-communities/
 
September 28, 2010
Labor Activists Condemn FBI Repression
(Statement by individual LAS union members and others)
“We deplore FBI raids on antiwar and Palestinian rights activists that took place in several cities on Friday,
September 24, 2010.”
http://michaelletwin.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/2010-09-28-labor-activists-condemn-fbi-repression/
 
———————-
Appendix: ALAA Collective Bargaining Agreement
 
§ 4.12. LAW ENFORCEMENT ISSUES.
 
§ 4.12.1. Police Conduct Committee.There will be a Joint Union-Management Police Conduct Committee representative of all Society practices.
 
§ 4.12.2. Programs and Materials. The Society will provide the Joint Police Conduct Committee with the resources to develop and implement a Society-wide plan to seek out, maintain, update, and make available the following programs and materials in relation to the New York City Police Department and all other relevant law enforcement agencies (e.g., PAPD, FBI, DEA, BATF, etc.):  1) computerized citywide records of individual police misconduct, abuse and brutality, accompanied by a mechanism through which such records can be routinely input and accessed; 2) manuals and other statements of police policy, including the NYPD Patrol Guide, Administrative Guide, Detective Guide, OCCB Investigative Guide, Narcotics Division Manual of Procedures, Legal Bulletins, Special  and Interim Orders and all other such materials which exist for specialized units within the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies; 3) guides to all police forms, annotated by case type; 4) preprinted or computer-formatted subpoenas designed to procure appropriate police reports by case type; 5) complete reference sets of police reports and procedures, at least one [1] copy of which will be maintained in each relevant Society office; 6) checklists to ensure the earliest possible transmittal of police reports from trial to appellate offices; 7) rosters of current and former members of law enforcement agencies available to educate attorneys about police practices; 8) form motions and sample memoranda of law that discuss the legal basis for discovery of police reports and personnel records at the earliest possible stage; 9) incorporation of the above police practice issues into the Society’s training programs; and 10) referral of individual clients to appropriate agencies.
 
§ 4.12.3. Police Abuse Project.  The Joint Police Conduct Committee will examine the mission of, and available funding for, a dedicated Society-wide unit to address police misconduct, abuse and brutality through litigation (such as broad injunctive relief and damage claims) and other means.  Funding will be subject to final approval by the Society’s Board of Directors.

September 10, 2008

2008.09.10: Attica Anniversary Follow-Up — More About Akil Al-Jundi

Filed under: Collective Bargaining,Criminal Justice — nyclaw01 @ 9:00 am
Tags:

From:     Letwin, Michael
Sent:    Wednesday, September 10, 2008 10:33 AM
To:    1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject:    Attica Anniversary Follow-Up — More About Akil Al-Jundi

[The following tribute to Akil Al-Jundi — Attica Brother, Legal Aid staff member and 1199 senior delegate — was written for the March 26, 1999 commemoration of ALAA’s thirtieth anniversary. See also, the ALAA history, posted at: http://www.alaa.org/pages/History.pdf%5D

Since the early 1990s, ALAA attorneys and 1199 Legal Aid support staff have forged a strong and enduring inter-union alliance. But building and maintaining an alliance between ALAA and 1199 has not always been easy. Legal Aid management traditionally played on differences in class, racial demographics and culture.

This gulf was reflected in ALAA’s initial decision to define itself as an attorneys’ union — in contrast with the “wall to wall” union at legal services — and 1199 members’ perception that the lawyers had not done enough to support their 1981 strike.

In the early 1990s, the two unions overcame this legacy in order to stand together as one. The success of that alliance is owed, in very large part, to Akil Al-Jundi (1940-1997).

Guild members knew Akil as an Attica Brother and lead plaintiff in Al-Jundi v. Mancusi. But at Legal Aid, Akil was, above all, the senior 1199 delegate who, since the mid-70, had boldly voiced the anger and hopes of poorly-paid and ill-respected support staff.

Like others, Akil initially had his doubts about the depth of ALAA’s commitment to an alliance with 1199. But in 1990, when ALAA extended its hand, Akil chanced a leap of faith and grasped it. From that moment on, lawyers and support staff across the city have stood firmly together under the banner “ALAA and 1199: United in Spirit, United in Action” — most notably in joint strikes on January 29, 1991, July 15, 1992 and October 1-4, 1994.

In the course of these actions, Akil helped to lead not only his own members, but ALAA’s as well. A veteran organizer, schooled during the movements of the 1960s and possessed of the cadence, insight, directness and courage of Malcolm X, he frequently chaired our joint rallies and gave both attorneys and support staff perspective on the events in which we were engaged.

In the process, Akil used a combination of boldness and humor to demand respect and a relationship of equality for the most disenfranchised constituency at Legal Aid. With his unshakeable commitment to the inter-union alliance, Akil was a rock on whom both unions came to depend. There was no better comrade.

Akil is sorely missed, but the alliance he helped to build lives on.

September 9, 2008

2008.09.09: Today: Anniversary of Attica Prison Uprising

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Police Abuse — nyclaw01 @ 9:03 am
Tags:

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 12:23 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Today: Anniversary of Attica Prison Uprising

https://i1.wp.com/atticathefilm.com/images/ATTICA_2007.gif

Today is the 37th anniversary of the Attica Uprising, in which inmates courageously rebelled against brutal prison conditions. The State of New York responded by unleashing a hail of bullets that killed forty prisoners and hostages.

One of the leading Attica Brothers was Akil Al-Jundi (1940-1997), who later became a Manhattan CDD staff member, Orison S. Marden Award recipient, and senior 1199 delegate.

Further Information

Robert McG. Thomas Jr., Akil Al-Jundi, Inmate Turned Legal Advocate, Is Dead at 56, NY Times, Aug. 20, 1997

The Attica Prison Riot 1971, Eyes on the Prize
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/eyesontheprize/story/18_attica.html

Attica Prison Riot
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attica_Prison_riots

Sept. 9-13, 1971: New York State Troopers Kill 39 Men in Raid To End Attica Prison Uprising, DemocracyNow!, September 11, 2003
http://www.democracynow.org/2003/9/11/sept_9_13_1971_new_york

New York State Settles with Victims of Attica Prison Brutality, DemocracyNow!, January 7, 2000
http://www.democracynow.org/2000/1/7/new_york_state_settles_with_victims

Jennifer Gonnerman, Remembering Attica, Village Voice, September 4, 2001
http://www.villagevoice.com/2001-09-04/news/remembering-attica/

April 29, 2008

2008.04.29: Sean Bell Bulletin

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 1:23 pm
Tags: ,

A woman sitting behind [the Bell family] broke the silence [in the courtroom] when she asked, “Did he just say ‘not guilty’?” Court officers hurried the three detectives out a back door.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/26/nyregion/26bell.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin

* * *
Report on Friday Night Protest
By Noha Arafa (CDD-Brooklyn)

On Friday evening, activists and members of the community met in front of Queens Supreme Court to protest the acquittal of police officers who killed Sean Bell.

Legal Aid staff members present included Lisa Edwards (CLO); Lucy Herschel (CDD-Queens); Mimi Rosenberg (Civil-Brooklyn); and Julie Fry, Michael Letwin, David Ocasio, Nanette Kripke, Laurie Dick,* Rebecca Kurti and Noha Arafa (CDD-Brooklyn). We held handmade signs that said, “Legal Aid attorneys against NYPD terrorism” and “Legal Aid attorneys for justice.” Protesters and members of the community told us that they were glad to see Legal Aid staff members present.

Protesters marched from Queens Supreme Court to Club Kalua, where Bell was gunned down. As the protestors marched down the streets stopping traffic, drivers honked their horns and other members of the community lined the streets and clapped or joined the march. We marched through the Jamaica Houses, where the NYPD were too afraid to follow us.

At the Jamaica Houses we were joined by young boys ages 8 to 13, who were acutely aware that they will be the next generation targeted by the NYPD. They chanted, “We Are All Sean Bell,” “NYPD Go to Hell,” and “Whose Streets? Our Streets.”  At the 103rd precinct, these kids stood without fear in front of three rows of riot police, counting to fifty for each shot fired at Sean Bell and his friends, punctuated by “Guilty!”

As we marched away from the precinct, the streets were filled only with police vehicles; in fact, police greatly outnumbered protesters. It felt like a war zone, even though it was a peaceful march.

*Whose photo is at :  http://news.webshots.com/photo/2001475270042693710xXnqpi

Other photos of the protest are posted at:

http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2008/04/96606.html
http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2008/04/96653.html
http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2008/04/96639.html
http://community.webshots.com/album/563217143uSUDSH
http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2008/04/96697.html

Information about upcoming protests will be forthcoming and is available at:

http://www.peoplesjustice.org/site/
http://www.justiceforsean.net/

* * *

“The justice system let me down,” Paultre Bell said, her voice strong, her message clear. “They killed Sean all over again. That’s what it felt like to us.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2008/04/26/2008-04-26_nicole_pault

April 25, 2008

2008.04.25: Protest 5:30 Today: Cops Acquitted of Sean Bell’s Murder

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 10:52 am
Tags:

From:     Letwin, Michael
Sent:    Friday, April 25, 2008 9:31 AM
To:    ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject:    Protest 5:30 Today: Cops Acquitted of Sean Bell’s Murder

Protest the Verdict:  The NYPD Murder of Sean Bell
Today, 5:30 p.m.
Queens DA’s Office, 125-01 Queens Blvd. (between Hoover Ave & 82nd Ave.)
E or F train to Union Turnpike
http://www.peoplesjustice.org/site/

******
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/26/nyregion/26BELL.html?hp

3 Detectives in Bell Shooting Acquitted

Three detectives were found not guilty Friday morning on all charges in the November, 2006, shooting death of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a club in Jamaica, Queens.

******
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2008/04/25/2008-04-25_in_the_sean_bell_case_it_was_the_gang_th.html
In the Sean Bell case, it was the gang that couldn’t prosecute straight

No matter what Justice Arthur Cooperman’s verdict in the Sean Bell trial is Friday, court watchers will remember the prosecution of this case as one of the strangest ever. . . . “Even if Cooperman finds the cops guilty, I just wish the Queens DA would prosecute all its cases like this one,” Murphy said. “In front of a jury, it would be a defense lawyer’s dream.”`

******
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/newyork/ny-webbell0424,0,3066512.story

Sharpton, Bell supporters await verdict in shooting case

Guzman, using a cane and leaning on Sharpton’s shoulder for support, added, “It’s going to go one of two ways — either we’ll get justice for Sean Bell or they’ll condone the execution of Sean Bell.”

******
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2008/04/23/2008-04-23_rev_al_freeing_bell_cops_would_be_verdic.html

Rev. Al: Freeing Bell cops would be verdict worthy of Old South

“If we say Friday that people’s attitude gets them shot by police, are we going to say next that it’s all right for people to assault women because they look like that’s what they wanted?” Sharpton asked.

Martin made the remark during his closing argument in the case against three NYPD detectives. Guzman was the person who “had the attitude to go get a gun and come back and use it,” Martin said.

Guzman has denied threatening anyone with a gun, and Sharpton was outraged by the argument. “This smacks of Emmett Till – of reckless eyeballing,” the civil rights activist said.

Till, 14, was murdered in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman in 1955. His killers were acquitted.

******
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2008/04/24/2008-04-24_det_oliver_has_never_shown_any_remorse_s-1.html

Det. Oliver has never shown any remorse, Sean Bell’s parents rage

“He’d come in with arrogance, like he just didn’t care. Like, ‘So what, I killed somebody, it don’t mean nothing.’ Like it’s a joke,” William Bell told the Daily News.

“He showed no remorse. None whatsoever”. . . .

All versions end with Bell and his friends walking away from the faceoff without a single blow being struck.

Bell’s father believes the cops delivered well-rehearsed accounts of the shooting and have not detailed the real events.

“They’re not going to tell you the truth, no matter what,” William Bell said. “It’s just so many fabrications, trying to build up a case. For me, it didn’t work.”

******
newsday.com/news/local/wire/newyork/ny-bc-ny–policeshooting-gl0425apr25,0,3604643.story

Some notable shootings involving New York police officers

Some fatal shootings of black men over the past decade involving New York City police officers:

******
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/04/24/nyregion/20080424_BELL_GRAPHIC.html

Inside the Sean Bell Shooting Trial

******
The Justice for Sean Bell statement, signed by the 57 LAS staff members listed below. The statement reflects positions (including prosecution of police perpetrators) previously adopted by ALAA. See, e.g., Statement on Police Violence & Abuse (March 22, 2000), attached [below].

Justice for Sean Bell
March 26, 2007

The undersigned New York City Legal Aid attorneys and support staff believe that the indictment of three police officers, for the fatal shooting of Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets, is too little and too late.

Sean Bell joins a long list of young men of color infamously murdered or assaulted by the NYPD, including Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Anthony Baez and Abner Louima. Yet police officers are almost never indicted—let alone convicted—for their crimes.

Police shootings, and the systemic failure to effectively prosecute their perpetrators, shows that the problem is not a “few bad apples” in the NYPD.  Rather, they are the predictable result of a criminal justice system that—as a matter of deliberate policy—systematically targets communities of color for search‑and‑destroy arrest sweeps, widespread criminalization and inhumane drug sentences.

Under the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, there has been an explosion in the number of racially‑discriminatory stop‑and‑frisks.  The vast majority of these do not result in an arrest, and most that do are for such charges as riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, open alcohol containers, walking between subway cars, and marijuana possession.

These illegal stops generate criminal records for hundreds of thousands of people of color, and are often accompanied by false accusations, physical threats, beatings, torture, or worse.

Such injustices cannot be ended by tinkering with existing policies.  Genuine solutions must include:

1.  Firing Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

2.  Vigorous prosecution, by a special prosecutor, of police officers—especially commanders—who commit or condone the crimes described above.

3.  An end to militarized police operations against young people of color.

* * *

Signers (Affiliations listed for identification only):

Charles Billups
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn
Chairperson, The Grand Council of Guardians

Antonia Codling
Criminal Defense Division‑Bronx
Affirmative Action Representative
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Lucy Herschel
Criminal Appeals Bureau
Delegate, 1199/SEIU

Julie Fry
Alternate Vice President, Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Michael Letwin
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn
Former President
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Susan Olivia Morris
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn
Former Sgt.‑at‑Arms
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Magda Rosa‑Rios
Alternate Vice-President, Harlem Community Law Office
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Azalia Torres
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn
Former Sr. Attorney & Attorneys of Color (ACLA) Representative
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Bahar Ansari
Juvenile Rights Division‑Bronx

Rigodis Appling
Criminal Defense Division‑Manhattan

Noha Arafa
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Chennette X. Barreto
Shared Services

Marisa Benton
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Abby Biberman
Civil Division

Norah Bowler
Juvenile Rights Division-Queens

Kamber L. Brisbane
Harlem Community Law Office

Jennifer Burkavage
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Cynthia Colt
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Laurie Dick
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Femi B. Disu
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Monica D. Dula
Criminal Defense Division-Bronx

Kimberly Forte
Juvenile Rights Division-Manhattan

Keisha A. Godfrey
Criminal Defense Division‑Queens

Bridgette Holloman
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Allison Jordan
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Emily Kane
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Benjamin Kanstroom
Criminal Defense Division‑Manhattan

Rebecca Kurti
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Patrick Langhenry
Civil Division‑Brooklyn

Adrian Lesher
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Melissa Loehr
Criminal Defense Division-Bronx

Beth Lyons
Criminal Appeals Bureau

Dianna Lysius
Accounting

Christopher Madiou
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Titus Mathai
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Joyce Murphy
Criminal Defense Division‑Manhattan

Elizabeth Newton
Criminal Defense Division‑Queens

David Ocasio
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Ivan Pantoja
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Karena Rahall
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Hara Robrish
Criminal Defense Division-Manhattan

Jacob Rolls
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Mimi Rosenberg
Civil Division‑Brooklyn

Gerard Savage
Criminal Defense Division-Queens

Samantha Seda
Criminal Defense Division-Queens

Kawan L. Simmons
Criminal Defense Division‑Bronx

Shana Skaletsky
Criminal Defense Division‑Bronx

Brian Slater
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Steven Terry
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Rebecca Turner
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Dawn Yuster
Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Sunita Patel
Civil Division, Immigration Unit

————–

Statement on Police Violence & Abuse
Adopted by the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys Delegate Council, March 22, 2000

In response to “Operation Condor,” ALAA reaffirms its commitment to provide each client with high-quality legal representation, including, but not limited to:

*Thorough pre-arraignment client interviews, under conditions that are healthy and confidential;

*Adherence to established arraignment shift hours;

*Production of incarcerated clients for each court appearance;

*Aggressive investigation and motion practice;

*Inclusion of supervising attorneys in arraignment staffing; and

*Appropriate legal action against, and publicity about, the pattern of false arrests and detention.

In response to the systemic police abuse that plagues New York City, of which “Condor” is a prominent example, ALAA reaffirms its support for far-reaching reform, including the immediate:

*Abolition of the Street Crime Unit, “Operation Condor,” and all similar “search and destroy,” body count, and arrest quota units;

*Dismissal of Police Commissioner Howard Safir;

*Permanent federal monitoring of the NYPD, and implementation of such long overdue reforms as police residency requirements and abolition of the 48-hour rule;

*Federal prosecution of the police officers responsible for the murders of Amadou Diallo, Malcolm Ferguson, Patrick Dorismond, and others;

*Prosecution of each City official who illegally released sealed records of former Legal Aid Society client Patrick Dorismond;

*Establishment of an independent state agency to aggressively prosecute future police violence and abuse; and

*End to the “War on Drugs,” including the Draconian Rockefeller sentencing laws, which only serves to promote violent crime, police brutality, and mass criminalization, particularly against communities of color.

April 22, 2008

2008.04.22: Friday: Sean Bell Verdict Protest

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 10:54 am
Tags:

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 7:49 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: Friday: Sean Bell Verdict Protest
[NYC Labor Against the War has endorsed this event]

JUSTICE FOR SEAN BELL AND ALL VICTIMS OF POLICE VIOLENCE!!
COME OUT APRIL 25th, THE DAY OF THE VERDICT!!

In Nov. 2006, Sean Bell was murdered by the NYPD in a hail of 50 bullets. His friends, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, were seriously injured. 3 of the officers involved now await the verdict of their trial. On April 14th, the judge stated that he will announce the verdict on FRIDAY, APRIL 25th. PEOPLES JUSTICE for Community Control and Police Accountability is calling for a rally in front of the Queens DA’s office ON Friday APRIL 25th (no longer on the day-after the verdict is announced)*.

COME OUT: APRIL 25th at 5:30 pm
@ the Queens DA’s Office
125-01 Queens Blvd. (between Hoover Ave & 82nd Ave.)
E or F train to Union Turnpike

The NYPD’s murder of Bell and attempted murders of Benefield and Guzman are NOT isolated or random events. They represent the continued targeting of communities of color by the police and the lack of accountability for police misconduct and abuse.

Endorsers (list in formation as of 4/15/08): Audre Lorde Project (ALP), CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Congress for Korean Reunification, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), DJ Chela, Domestic Workers United (DWU), FIERCE!, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition/NYC, Hasan Salaam, Hip Hop Caucus, Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project, International Action Center, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), Justice Committee, Lynne Stewart Organization, Make the Road by Walking, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Mano a Mano, May 1st Coalition, National Hip Hop Political Convention, New Abolitionists, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, October 22nd Coalition, Parents Against Police Brutality, Rebel Diaz, Revolting in Pink (R.I.P), Rights for Imprisoned People with Psychiatric Disabilities (RIPPD), VAMOS Unidos, War Resisters League.

For more information about the April 25th rally/community speak-out, Peoples’ Justice, and other cases of police violence go to: peoplesjustice. org and myspace.com/ peoplesjustice or email info@peoplesjustice .org.

* If the judge goes back on his word and chooses to delay delivering the verdict, COME OUT on April 25th at 5:30 pm and go to peoplesjustice. org and myspace.com/ peoplesjustice to find out about next steps

April 16, 2008

2008.04.16: 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, http://www.brooklyneagle.com/categories/category.php?category_id=4&id=18282).

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.

Signers
(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

——–
Notes

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, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9900E4DE1E3EF93AA35757C0A9679C8B63&scp=1&sq=%22A+hobbled+Legal+Aid+Society+represented%22&st=nyt.

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, http://www.courts.state.ny.us/ip/indigentdefense-commission/SpangenbergGroupReport.pdf.

5. In the Matter of the New York State Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense Services (May 12, 2005), at 198, http://www.nycourts.gov/ip/indigentdefense-commission/albany_5-12-05.pdf.

March 21, 2008

2008.03.21: Antiwar Bulletin: 5th Anniversary of Iraq War

Filed under: Antiwar — nyclaw01 @ 10:50 am
Tags:

From: Fry, Julie
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2008 10:48 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: Antiwar Bulletin: 5th Anniversary of Iraq War

[Union Free Speech Notice: Like messages about the presidential elections and any number of other issues, this message is protected speech*]

Contents
*Introduction
1. ALAA Antiwar Vote (4/14/03)
2. NYC Labor Against the War (9/27/01)
3. Winter Soldier: G.I. Testimony About U.S. War Crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq (3/08)
4. More Than One Million Iraqis Dead Since 2003 Invasion: Study (1/31/08)
5. $3 Trillion is Just a Part of the Cost (3/16/08)
6. Seven Out of 10 Iraqis Want Foreign Forces to Leave: Poll (3/17/2008)
7. Protesters Turn Out for War’s Anniversary (3/19/08)
8. West Coast Dockers Antiwar Strike (2/26/08)
9. From a Mother in Gaza to a Mother in Sderot (3/13/08)
10. Democracy Now Reports Gaza Massacre (3/03/08)
<><><><><><><><><><><><

Introduction

Five years of U.S. war and occupation in have brought made Iraq the world’s greatest humanitarian disaster:

* More than a million Iraqis are dead.
* Millions more are refugees.
* The overwhelming majority of Iraqis still want the U.S. out.
* Nearly 4000 U.S. soldiers have died and many thousands are wounded.
* The cost is estimated at trillions of dollars.
* The economy is tottering on the brink of disaster.
* None of the Democratic or Republican candidates will even promise if and when they would get out.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to:

* Wage war in Afghanistan.
* Back Israel’s wars in Lebanon and Palestine.
* Threatens to attack Iran.

This endless war is indeed another Vietnam. All so that the U.S. government and multinational corporations can dominate the oil-rich Middle East.

The material below, including two documents concerning ALAA, 1199 and the war explores these issues.

For additional material, visit and/or subscribe to the listserv from New York City Labor Against the War, at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/

1. ALAA Antiwar Vote (4/14/03)

At home, the war’s incalculable economic cost—combined with new tax cuts for the wealthy—is already coming directly out of education, fire protection, sanitation, veterans’ benefits, social security, health care, and virtually every other essential government service. These policies will further devastate our clients’ communities, and bode poorly for funding such programs as indigent legal representation.

[Full text: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1708%5D

2. NYC Labor Against the War (9/27/01)

No one should suffer what we experienced on September 11. Yet war will inevitably harm countless innocent civilians, strengthen American alliances with brutal dictatorships and deepen global poverty-just as the United States and its allies have already inflicted widespread suffering on innocent people.

[Full text, including list of 1,254 trade union signers, including ALAA & 1199 members: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/2448%5D

3. Winter Soldier: G.I. Testimony About U.S. War Crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq (3/08)

Read Bios of the Panelists
Listen to Archived Audio from Previous Panels: Rules of Engagement: Part 1 | Rules of Engagement: Part 2 | The Crisis in Veterans’ Healthcare | Corporate Pillaging and Military Contractors (with more to come!)

4. More Than One Million Iraqis Dead Since 2003 Invasion: Study (1/31/08)

[Full text; http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gRd3Bi6CXI94ke9t9CgxqcZ1wPNw%5D

5. $3 Trillion is Just a Part of the Cost (3/16/08)

The staggering $3 trillion sum has been called conservative by some critics, who say the war’s cost could reach $5 trillion. And even by the most lowball estimates, America will pay more than $1 trillion in current and future costs for a war that is driving military spending into a potential budgetary black hole. . . .

Hillary Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, advocates winding down the Iraq war but backs a strong military.

Barack Obama, who has pledged to stop the war in Iraq and cut billions of dollars in “wasteful spending,” comes closest to tackling the massive issue. But his plans for an expanded troop level to fight the “war on terror” are moving in the other direction.

[Full text: http://www.thestar.com/article/346563%5D

6. Seven Out of 10 Iraqis Want Foreign Forces to Leave: Poll (3/17/2008)

More than two-thirds of Iraqis believe US-led coalition forces should leave, according to a poll conducted for British television ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

[Full text: http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Seven_out_of_10_Iraqis_want_0317.html%5D

7. Protesters Turn Out for War’s Anniversary (3/19/08)

Thousands of people carried signs and chanted in the streets of Manhattan on Tuesday, calling for an end to the war in Iraq, which began five years ago today.

Demonstrators also converged in Washington; San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; and elsewhere to call on President Bush to heed what they said was the will of the people.

[Full text: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/complete/la-na-protest19mar19,1,5865259,print.story%5D

8. West Coast Dockers Antiwar Strike (5/1/08)

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

That it is time to take labor’s protest to a more powerful level of struggle by calling on unions and working people in the U. S. and internationally to mobilize for a “No Peace No Work Holiday” May 1, 2008 for 8 hours to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U. S. troops from the Middle East.

[Full text: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/2811%5D

9. From a Mother in Gaza to a Mother in Sderot (3/13/08)

Like I feel sorry for your son, I feel sorry for my Palestinian children who are born and will die in Gaza, unable to have the chance of seeing other worlds, and who have to face F-16s, Apache helicopters and the Israeli army’s brutal invasions into Gaza. However, my children are not fortunate enough to have the excellent medical care that your son has. My children do not have the chance to run to a shelter and there is no alarm to tell them that there is a strike coming. My children cannot be guaranteed the love and care that your son found because all of their family might be killed in one strike, they might witness the death of their parents, or any of their dear family members as the Palestinians are targeted everywhere, even in their homes and among their children.

[Full text: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9393.shtml%5D

10. Democracy Now Reports Gaza Massacre

Israel has been using the heaviest missiles by F-16s. Some experts here estimate that there are one-ton weight of Israeli missiles that Israel has been using. And that’s the case, as one of the medical sources here told me about the whole situation. And we have been told also that there is a bombing by F-16s in a close area nearby, and there are more ambulances coming with more casualties and with more people who are coming to the hospital. We are not sure who is a target. But I can tell you that most of the casualties were children and women. And among those 130 people, there are thirty-nine children and ten women.

[Full text: http://www.democracynow.org/2008/3/3/report_from_gaza ]

—————

*Collective Bargaining Agreement, §§ 3.5 (“The expression of personal religious, political, social or economic beliefs of each and every attorney is fully guaranteed and will never constitute grounds for discharge or relief from an individual assignment unless, in either instance, it can be demonstrated that such expression has, or will, directly interfere(d) with, and detract from, representation of a Society client so as to render said representation less than at the highest level of competence and effectiveness.”) and 1.5 (“The Union will have reasonable use of the Society’s internal communication mechanisms.”).

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