Redefining public defense.

The Bronx Defenders Enmeshed Penalties

City and State: Out on parole, and turning out to vote

“I believe voting is a right. I recognize that there’s a perpetual punishment system that exists. And for me, voting is fundamental to attacking that and addressing that and dismantling that.” Our Wesley Caines, Re-Entry and Community Outreach Coordinator, on voting while out on parole. Read more here 

Dawit Getachew Testifies at Cost of Justice City Council Hearing

New York City Council Committee on Justice System Oversight Hearing on Cost of Justice September 27, 2018 Testimony of The Bronx Defenders By Dawit Getachew Chairman Lancman and members of the Committee, my name is Dawit Getachew, and I am a criminal defense attorney and Associate Special Counsel at The Bronx Defenders. I am grateful…

Boston University Law Review: Curbing Collateral Punishment in the Big Data Age

In this era of big data, law enforcement agencies have tools to conduct mass surveillance and collect an enormous amount of information about the public in daily investigative activities. Jenn Rolnick Borchetta, Deputy Director of our Impact Litigation Practice, describes in this Boston University Law Review article how sealing laws can be used to protect…

R.C. v. The City of New York

On April 24, 2018, The Bronx Defenders filed a class action against the City of New York and the NYPD for illegally using and sharing information from sealed arrest records in defiance of long-standing privacy laws that protect privacy and the presumption of innocence. The NYPD’s practice violates the rights of thousands of people, and…

BxD’s Justine Olderman Interview with BronxNet TV’s “Today’s Verdict”

“What we’re trying to do is redefine public defense and in doing so, transform the way that people are treated in our justice system…we go wherever the client goes and we defend that client by whatever means necessary.” Justine Olderman, Executive Director of The Bronx Defenders sits down with BronxNet Community Television’s “Today’s Verdict” with…

Vox: A former inmate on the perils of life after prison

“I have yet to speak with or to hear an employer who employs a formerly incarcerated person complain about the quality and the passion of the work that they have received.” Our Re-Entry and Community Outreach Coordinator Wesley Caines on life after prison.   Read the entire interview here

When the NYPD Keeps Your Property: Frequently Asked Questions About Civil Forfeiture

The NYPD regularly seizes cash, cellphones, cars, and other property during arrests. Property that is not contraband should be returned to its rightful owner when the case is dismissed or terminated unless the district attorney’s office can establish that the valuables are still needed as evidence for an appeal or another proceeding. In practice, something…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Delegation of criminal defense attorneys from Japan visit BxD

On Monday and Tuesday, October 26 and 27, we were visited by a delegation of criminal defense attorneys from Japan. The Japanese criminal justice system will soon be instituting a system of plea bargaining for the first time, and the delegation came to learn from The Bronx Defenders – among others – about how our system works. They…

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…

Avery McNeil Presented Testimony Before the New York City Council

Bronx Defenders Criminal Defense Attorney and Coordinator for the Human Traffic Intervention Court Avery McNeil presented testimony before the New York City Council Joint Hearing of the Committee on Courts and Legal Services and the Committee on Women’s Issues on September 18th, 2015 to discuss the effectiveness of the intervention court in the Bronx and make recommendations for…

The Bronx Defenders testifies before NYC Council on the need for bail reform

Earlier this week, Justine Olderman, Managing Director of the Criminal Defense Practice, Robyn Mar, Director of Early Advocacy, and Noelle Turtur, Project Associate, submitted testimony on behalf of The Bronx Defenders before the New York City Council Committees on Courts and Legal Services and Fire and Criminal Justice on the dire need for reform of the New York…

Bronx Defenders statement on NYC Council passing of the Fair Chance Act

The Bronx Defenders applauds the New York City Council for passing the Fair Chance Act, a bill that will give New Yorkers with criminal records a fair chance to compete for jobs. The Fair Chance Act will prohibit all public and private employers in New York City from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until…

Bronx Defenders advocates present at National Association of Social Workers conference

Three Bronx Defenders advocates — Social Worker Sarah Knight, Parent Advocate Keston Jones, and Civil Legal Advocate Maria Monica Andia — will be presenting at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), New York City Chapter conference “Social Work in the City: Dreams and Realities of Life in New York” on April 8, 2015. The conference aims…