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The Bronx Defenders In the News

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…

The Intercept: Terrorist Watchlist Errors Spread to Criminal Rap Sheets

Last February, attorney Anisha Gupta represented a Latino man charged with two misdemeanors: trespassing and resisting arrest. At her client’s arraignment, the first appearance before a judge where a bail determination is made, Gupta thought her client would be quickly let out on his own recognizance — meaning a release without posting bail; the prosecution…

VICE: There’s a New Way for People Arrested in NYC to Avoid Jail

A 22-year-old black man stands with his hands clasped behind his back as the prosecution reads charges to the judge. Low-level assault, a class D felony. Recommended bail? $75,000. It’s 6:45 PM on a Saturday evening at Brooklyn Criminal Court, and the audience is comprised mostly of family members—some of whom will wait until one…

Council Presses de Blasio Administration to Reduce Delays in Criminal Court

When Chidinma Ume, an assistant counsel in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, visited Queens recently, district attorney staff showed her around the courthouse, taking care to point out unused areas. “We gave her a tour of the courthouse, and how many locked doors that we have in courtrooms because we have…

New York Law Journal: We Need Speedy Trial Reform in City’s Criminal Courts

Too often in New York City, the maxim “justice delayed is justice denied” is no mere abstraction, but a reality that wears down defendants, dispirits victims and cheats taxpayers. This is particularly true in the city’s criminal court, where lower-level cases—misdemeanors and petty offenses—are adjudicated and where the gaze of policymakers and the press rarely…

Vice: We Know Terrifyingly Little About How Cops in New York Track Cell Phones

For the past several years, police departments across America have been using a nifty new piece of technology to trace the location of suspects. IMSI-catchers—commonly known as “StingRays” after the most popular brand name—are small boxes that gather all cell signals in a given area by mimicking a cell phone tower. And they’ve grown increasingly…

Yes Magazine: When You Can’t Afford the Cost of Clearing Your Record

Adrienne broke the law: Caught speeding on her way home from work in Memphis, Tennessee, she pled guilty to charges of reckless driving and reckless endangerment. Two years later, Adrienne had completed probation and paid her court fees. But the charges still appeared on background checks, so she could find only temporary work. The barrier…

Independent Record: Flathead Reservation program helps former inmates reintegrate

A new program on the Flathead Reservation is helping people who are released from tribal jail or the state prison adjust to life after incarceration. There are many “collateral consequences” people deal with upon their release — inability to find a place to live, struggling to get a job and issues getting drivers licenses reinstated,…

The New Yorker: Sonia from the Bronx

Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, says that she prefers to be called Sonia from the Bronx. Chances are nobody who meets her ever dreams of calling her anything so informal. When she came back to her native borough last week for an Evening of Conversation at the Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit…

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor Speaks at The Bronx Defenders

On Monday, January 25th, The Bronx Defenders hosted U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor for an evening of conversation at its justice campus in the South Bronx. Local community members, staff members and supporters of The Bronx Defenders were present. The conversation between Robin Steinberg, Executive Director of The Bronx Defenders, and Justice Sotomayor…

Gotham Gazette: ‘Dangerousness’ Aspect of Cuomo’s Bail Plan Troubles Reformers

In his recently-released policy agenda for 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo included a plan to reform the state’s bail system. While it has not been fully fleshed out yet, Cuomo’s proposal dictates that judges would use a scientific assessment tool to determine an individual’s “risk to public safety” while setting bail, a proposal similar to one…

WNYC: Who Should Have Control of Police Footage?

In the recent police shooting death of teenager in Chicago, a court ordered the public release of the dashboard camera video. But why are police in control of this type of footage? Sarah Lustbader, staff attorney at the Bronx Defenders, a public defender office, discusses the circumstances surrounding a court order for the release of…

New York Times: The Real Problem With Police Video

A Chicago police officer shot and killed a teenager named Laquan McDonald in October of last year, but most of us learned about Mr. McDonald only last week, after a judge ordered the release of police video footage of his death. That is also when prosecutors finally brought first-degree murder charges against the officer. Clearly,…

WNYC: Stop and Seize: When the NYPD Takes Your Cash

Last February, Harold Stanley was on his block one evening, in the Morrissania section of the Bronx. He decided to drive to McDonalds, and when he came back, sat in his parked car to eat. “Next thing I know somebody’s tapping on my window, telling me get out the car,” he said. “And I said…

NY Daily News: When cops just take your cash and car

An arcane 134-year-old process few New Yorkers have even heard of means the NYPD can take the possessions — cars, cash, computers — of anyone who gets stopped, even if it’s for jaywalking and even if that person never gets convicted or even charged. And because those so-called civil forfeiture proceedings are civil, New Yorkers…

NY1: Weighing Bronx DA Candidate’s Role in Controversial Rikers Case

Thursday night, NY1 reported that Darcel Clark, the leading candidate for Bronx District Attorney, played a previously undisclosed role in the case of Kalief Browder, the young man who committed suicide earlier this year after he was held at Rikers Island for three years without trial. However, as NY1’s Bobby Cuza reported, just how much…

The Atlantic: How Treatment Courts Can Reduce Crime

Court-mandated substance-abuse treatment programs can keep people out of prison and save tax-payer dollars, so why aren’t they being utilized? When I first met my client, he was sitting on the other side of a metal grate (The client’s name has been withheld because of attorney-client confidentiality). We were in the cells behind the arraignment…

Gothamist: How Will De Blasio’s Bail Reform Actually Work?

After news of Kalief Browder’s suicide, many advocates called on Mayor de Blasio to fix New York’s draconian and unfair bail system. On July 8th, Mayor de Blasio responded by announcing a new bail reform for New York City’s court systems. People charged with certain misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies would have the option of supervised…

New York Times: The Bail Trap

Every year, thousands of innocent people are sent to jail only because they can’t afford to post bail, putting them at risk of losing their jobs, custody of their children — even their lives. Two years later, that may be changing. This summer, the New York City Council took a tentative step toward reform by…

Huffington Post: How The Obama Administration Is Helping Big Bank Felons

So much for that tough talk about holding Wall Street accountable for its crimes. With the blessing of the White House and the Justice Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is attempting to sneak through a major policy change that would enable big banks convicted of felonies to continue lending through a federal…