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DNAinfo: 10 Judges Will Head to Bronx to Target Criminal Case Backlog

BRONX SUPREME COURT — Ten judges from outside the city will be temporarily assigned to The Bronx as part of an unprecedented plan to shrink an “intolerable” backlog of felony cases, the state’s top judge said Tuesday. The move came as the borough’s top criminal judge, Efrain Alvarado, will be replaced by Justice Douglas McKeon,…

The Village Voice: Making Bail Better

When Judge Ralph Fabrizio saw William Miranda, free of handcuffs and dressed in street clothes, sitting in his Bronx courtroom, he was surprised. Three days earlier, on February 24, 2009, Miranda had been up before Fabrizio for arraignment on two misdemeanor assault charges. Fabrizio had set a substantial bail, $1,500 for each charge, certainly more…

City Limits: Bail Fund Aims to Free Poor Defendants

The Bronx Defenders, through its affiliate the Bronx Freedom Fund, bailed hundreds of people between 2007 and 2009. According to Robin Steinberg, executive director of The Bronx Defenders, “During the 18 months that the Bronx Freedom Fund operated, 150 clients were bailed out and the return rate of our clients was an impressive 95 percent….

News 12 Bronx: Criminal justice groups hold first BX town hall

THE BRONX – Several criminal justice groups came together Monday night for their first Bronx town hall meeting at Hostos Community College. Organizers, including the Bronx Defenders and the Justice Committee, claim that police have taken advantage of many people during practices such as stop-and-frisk. They say the meeting aimed to teach local residents about…

WNYC News: Charities to Play Bail Bondsman Role

Charities will soon be allowed to post bail for the poor and indigent. A new law recently signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo allows charities to be authorized and regulated by the Department of Financial Services, the same state agency that oversees bail bondsman. Only those charged with non-violent misdemeanors with bails set at $2,000 or…

New York Daily News: New version of charitable bond bill headed to Cuomo’s desk could free thousands of poor Bronx defendants

Legislation passed by state lawmakers last week with approval from Gov. Cuomo could free thousands of jailed Bronxites. Sponsored by state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), the new law will allow charitable organizations statewide to post bail – up to $2,000 – for poor defendants held on misdemeanor charges. The Cuomo-vetted bill is an amended version…

The Guardian: New York mayor and NYPD back marijuana decriminalisation proposal

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly have backed legislation proposed by governor Andrew Cuomo that would reduce the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana in public view from a crime to a misdemeanor. Cuomo’s proposal is an attempt to reduce the number of people exposed to a criminal charge…

The Village Voice: Bail is Busted: How Jail Really Works

Lauren DiGioia’s face was stony and impassive beneath bright blue hair as she was brought into a courtroom in handcuffs on March 18. At 2:30 the previous afternoon, DiGioia, 27, had become the first person arrested by the New York City Police Department during Occupy Wall Street’s six-month anniversary at Zuccotti Park. DiGioia was taken…

The New York Times: Examining Marijuana Arrests

The New York State Legislature showed good sense when it exempted people convicted of low-level marijuana possession from having to submit DNA to the state database, unless they have been convicted of a previous crime. Still, the state must do more to curb the arrests of tens of thousands of people each year in New…

The Guardian: New York police officers defy order to cut marijuana arrests

Police officers in New York are “manufacturing” criminal offenses by forcing people with small amounts of marijuana to reveal their drugs, according to a survey by public defenders. Nearly half of New Yorkers picked up for small amounts of marijuana possession in recent months were not displaying the drug before they were stopped, the study…

The Village Voice: NYPD Clean Halls Program Faces Legal Challenge

Later this morning, civil liberties advocates will announce a new challenge to the controversial NYPD program of patrolling the hallways of thousands of privately-owned buildings. Private owners enroll in the program, known as Operation Clean Halls, which has swelled in Manhattan alone to at least 3,895 buildings. The program envisioned as a way for police…

NY1: Lawsuit Claims NYPD “Clean Halls” Program Violates Civil Rights

Civil rights advocacy groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the New York City Police Department over a controversial program that allows officers to patrol private apartment buildings. The suit, submitted by the New York Civil Liberties Union, Latino Justice Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, as well as lawyers with the Bronx Defenders, allege…

WNYC: NYPD Conducts Suspicionless Stops in Private Buildings: Suit

A federal class action was filed against New York City and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on Wednesday for what plaintiffs allege are suspicionless stops within private residential buildings. Under the NYPD’s enforcement of a program known as Operation Clean Halls, a landlord enters into an agreement with the NYPD, which grants officers permission to patrol…

The Bronx Defenders Legal Director Marika Meis successfully argues in New York Court of Appeals that courts must set alternatives to cash bail

The New York Court of Appeals today ruled in favor of Bronx Defenders client, Sean McManus, in a decision that will have widespread impact on the state criminal court system, particularly for the indigent. The decision recognizes that the statutory bail scheme in New York was created to provide flexible bail alternatives for those accused of crimes…

Fixing New York’s Broken Bail System

By Justine Olderman, 16 CUNY L. Rev. 9, CUNY Law Review (Winter 2012) New York City jails are currently filled with people who are serving time but haven’t been convicted of anything at all. They are there for one reason. They cannot afford the price of their bail. Bail is the single most important decision made in a…

Reuters: U.S. judge limits stop and frisk searches in New York’s Bronx

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the New York Police Department to immediately stop conducting trespass stops outside certain residential buildings in the borough of the Bronx without “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is engaged in criminal activity. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin issued her ruling in the narrowest of three main lawsuits challenging New…

Amsterdam News: Hands Off: Black community responds to U.S. District Court ruling of NYPD’s “Clean Halls” as unconstitutional

Could this be the first step to eliminating “stop and frisk?” On Tuesday morning, a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge ruled that the New York Police Department’s “Clean Halls Program” violated the constitutional rights of New York City residents. According to Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, for years the NYPD…