Redefining public defense.

The Bronx Defenders In the News

A Critical Civil Rights Tool Is on the Chopping Block

“With threats to the balance of power in this country on the rise, protecting the class action is urgent. Courts can serve as a check against civil rights violations, but only if lawyers are able to bring cases that challenge government abuse.” Op-ed by BxD’s Jenn Rolnick Borchetta for The Marshall Project on new pro-business legislation that could…

Sanctuary Cities in Name Only

“It’s not enough for cities like New York to declare themselves ‘sanctuaries,’ which simply means that the local police won’t detain noncitizens on the federal government’s behalf. If cities really want to protect immigrants, they must also end the quota-driven style of policing that makes immigrants the victims of unnecessary arrests and disproportionate punishment…” Op-ed…

New York Police Dept. Agrees to Curb Stop-and-Frisk Tactics

“We’re talking about stops and frisks and arrests in the sanctity of people’s homes that have had an incredible human toll on the relationship between the community and the police,” said Johanna Steinberg, director of the Impact Litigation Practice at The Bronx Defenders, which was also part of the lawsuit. “This will create accountability and…

City-Funded Lawyers Help More Detained Immigrants Win Cases

“Since its launch in 2013, the project has provided lawyers for 2,000 immigrants through a partnership with three public defender organizations: Bronx Defenders, the Legal Aid Society and Brooklyn Defender Services.” WNYC story on the impact of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), the first public defender program in the country for people in…

Case Challenging Delays in Bronx Court Can Proceed with New Plaintiffs

“The Bronx Defenders won a partial victory in its suit challenging notoriously long delays for misdemeanor trials in the Bronx. But it will have to proceed with new plaintiffs. The public defender organization filed its federal lawsuit in the spring, claiming the delays violate the U.S. Constitution’s right to a speedy trial…” Listen to the…

How Segregation Enables Over-Policing of Communities of Color

“An hour ride on most NYC subway lines should be enough to see how New York City, for all its diversity, is an economically and racially segregated city. A few stops along that same ride can also illustrate how policing in communities varies depending on the neighborhood. Take the D train from 59th-Columbus Circle to…

NYPD needs to come clean on seized property data

“Whether through litigation or legislation, New Yorkers must have access to full information regarding these practices. It’s time for the NYPD to open its books.” Adam Shoop, attorney in the Civil Action Practice at The Bronx Defenders, writes for amNew York on the need for transparency regarding NYPD property seizure practices. Read his op-ed here. For more…

Judge slaps down state’s defense of ‘structural and systematic’ delays in Bronx trials by invoking segregationist South

“A judge compared state lawyers’ arguments in a case on court delays to the pre-Civil Rights Era South, suggesting Wednesday their position against federal intervention might have been used by segregationists. The Bronx Defenders alleged in a May lawsuit that those in the borough facing misdemeanor charges suffer from “structural and systematic” delays in their…

The Judges New York Elects Will Alter Lives

WNYC features an incredible victory from our Prostitution Conviction Vacatur Project, a project we launched in 2013 with the aim of identifying all our clients who have criminal convictions as a result of having been a victim of sex trafficking and working with them to vacate the conviction. Listen to the story here.

Police Can Use a Legal Grey Area to Rob Anyone of Their Belongings

“When officers categorize wallets or cellphones as evidence, getting them back can be nearly impossible—even if the owner isn’t charged with a crime…” Great piece in The Atlantic on the NYPD’s use of civil forfeiture and The Bronx Defenders’ legal challenges to this and other property seizure practices by police. Read the article here. To…

The Public-Defender System’s Funding Crisis

As states across the country struggle to sufficiently defend the poor, why is our public-defender system in turmoil and can anything be done to reform it? Robin Steinberg, executive director of The Bronx Defenders, joins WNYC’s The Takeaway to discuss. Listen to the story here.

NYPD isn’t releasing info on civil forfeiture, which could bring them ‘tens of millions’ of dollars, suit says

“The NYPD is illegally refusing to disclose information on civil forfeiture, according to a lawsuit to be filed Thursday. The Bronx Defenders plan to file a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit that says the NYPD won’t provide requested information on policies and procedures involving cash and property seized during arrests — which could total “tens of…

New York Times Editorial: A Nightmare Court, Worthy of Dickens

The New York Times Editorial Board weighs in on Trowbridge et al., v. Cuomo et al, our federal lawsuit challenging the epidemic of court delays in the Bronx Criminal Court. “This Dickensian nightmare is all too common in the Bronx, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Federal District Court by the Bronx Defenders,…

New York Times: Chronic Bronx Court Delays Deny Defendants Due Process, Suit Says

“Court delays in the Bronx — so troublesome that state officials had to create special courts to clear a backlog of felony cases — remain unresolved and have “fatally undermined the right to trial” for tens of thousands of people charged each year with low-level offenses, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday.” Read the article…

The Defenders

Longreads profiles The Bronx Defenders. “The quality of the lawyering among public defenders in New York City is universally understood to be very high; that wasn’t Robin Steinberg’s concern. She saw inadequacy built into the very structure of public defense. In the nineties, she noticed that more of the clients she was defending were being…