Redefining public defense.

The Bronx Defenders In the News

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…

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…