177 Livingston Street 7th Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 (718) 254-0700 info@bds.org



The mission of Brooklyn Defender Services is to provide high quality legal representation and related services to people who cannot afford to retain an attorney.

Brooklyn Defender Services is a public defender organization that represents nearly 40,000 people each year who are too poor to afford an attorney. Our staff consists of specialized attorneys, social workers, investigators, paralegals and administrative staff who are experts in their individual fields.

Our staff are highly qualified and specially trained to provide excellent legal representation to people charged with a crime or facing child welfare proceedings. Every client receives the services needed to defend his or her case, including an investigator to track down witnesses or recover evidence, a social worker to improve the life circumstances of our client and an excellent attorney who will analyze the legal issues in the case, try to negotiate a fair resolution of the matter and will represent the client at a trial.

BDS has many services for our clients on-site, including civil legal advocacy, such as assistance with educational needs of our clients or their children, housing and benefits advocacy and immigration advice and representation.

People who are arrested face many obstacles, even if their case was resolved in their favor. Some examples are loss of employment, suspension from school, eviction from public or private housing, deportation, forfeiture of property and loss of licenses. Our goal is to help clients with these issues as they arise. We also work to change these systems by challenging their legality and advocating for changes in the law.

Each year, there are 100,000 arrests in Brooklyn. Eighty-five percent of these arrests are for misdemeanors or a non-criminal offense. Ninety percent of the people arrested cannot afford an attorney. Brooklyn Defender Services staffs the court so that every person has an attorney as soon as they see the judge.

One thousand families each year get a similar benefit—they too have an attorney waiting in the courtroom to help them on the very day that proceedings are filed for removal of their children.

Many of our clients are people with a mental illness. Many of our clients are under the age of 18. A growing number are veterans facing difficulties in returning home. A large portion are suffering with drug addiction or alcoholism. It is only through a zealous voice advocating for those unable to speak for themselves that justice is done. BDS is that voice.


  • Criminal Defense

  • Family Defense

  • Immigration

  • Civil Justice

  • Policy & Advocacy


Kevin Snover, Chairman of the Board
Gregory Cerchione, Secretary
Cindi Elibott Giglio, Treasurer
Suprotik Basu, Board Member
Andrea Bonina, Board Member
Robert J. Gunther, Jr., Board Member
Jeffrey Rona, Board Member
Lisa Schreibersdorf, Board Member and Executive Director


Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) is committed to high-quality and zealous representation on behalf of Brooklyn residents facing the criminal, family and immigration justice systems.   As part of this mission, BDS strives to ensure pro bono partnerships leverage resources and provide critical support for our clients in and out of the courtroom to ensure our clients obtain the best result possible in court and, hopefully, a better outcome in their lives.

BDS regularly partners with New York City’s major law firms, corporations and other members of the private bar on numerous cases from all of our practice areas.  Our pro bono partners have worked on individual cases, filed complaints in federal courts, co-authored amicus briefs, co-counseled hearings, filed and argued appeals and conducted research on novel areas of law.  BDS offers pro bono opportunities that not only present ideal opportunities for pro bono attorneys to get real courtroom experience and work with clients in need, but that result in just and better outcomes for our clients.  BDS offers both short- and long-term projects and has flexible co-counseling arrangements. Additionally, we offer comprehensive training programs, mentorship and supervision that will provide a meaningful experience for the pro bono attorney and the client.

Law firms, corporations, law-firm attorneys, and in-house counsel who are interested in joining Brooklyn Defender Services’ pro bono practice, please contact our Pro Bono Counsel Molly Meltzer at mmeltzer@bds.org.

Retired or Transitioning Attorneys interested in pro bono opportunities are welcomed at Brooklyn Defender Services.  Our organization is one of the host organizations of the Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP) established by ex-Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in 2010.  Please visit this website to register for the program http://nycourts.gov/attorneys/volunteer/emeritus/about.shtml and contact Pro Bono Counsel Molly Meltzer at mmeltzer@bds.org.

Individual Volunteers are incorporated into our practices on an as-needed basis.  Please send a resume, particular skills you have that would lend itself to our work and your specific availability to mmeltzer@bds.org.


BDS opened its doors in 1996 as the first borough-specific public defender office in New York City, with 38 employees working around donated conference room tables out of office space recently vacated by the New York Telephone Co. That first year we lived rent-free, while the building was being renovated around us, and handled 10,000 cases.

Today, BDS is one of the largest defender offices in the country, representing tens of thousands of clients in criminal, family, immigration and civil cases annually. Our staff of 300 includes 180 attorneys and 120 social workers, investigators, paralegals, re-entry specialists, jail liaisons, community organizers and policy specialists as well as dedicated advocates for youth, veterans and parents. Our specialized defense approach allows us to provide targeted services for clients with mental illness or developmental disabilities, adolescent clients, trafficking victims and veterans.



Our primary mission at BDS is to represent people facing serious accusations from the government. We recognize that our clients face many additional challenges and obstacles related to their poverty. As the largest Brooklyn-based legal services provider, BDS’s interdisciplinary staff provides supplemental legal and social services on site to our clients, including immigration attorneys, housing attorneys, an education attorney and social workers who specialize in areas such as mental health and youth advocacy.


ARISE (Action for Reform in Special Education)

Attorney General Office Criminal Justice and Mental Health Roundtable

Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Brooklyn Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyer’s Project

Brooklyn Community Bail Fund

Brooklyn Community Services

Brooklyn Justice Corps

Brooklyn Justice Initiatives

Brooklyn Law School

Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association

Brownsville Community Justice Center


Caribbean American Center of New York


Center for Community Alternatives

Center  for Court Innovation

Center for Family Life

Child Welfare Organizing Project

Children’s Museum of the Arts

Christ Church Fellowship Baptist Church

Coalition for Effective Behavioral Health Reforms and Dignity in Schools Campaign

Common Justice

Drew House & Project Greenhope



Families for Freedom

Families Rising

Fortune Society

Good Shepherd Services

Haitian Centers Council

Haitian Family Resource Center

Haitian Legal Immigration Legal Assistance Program

Health Home Initiative

La Union

Lutheran Social Services

Medgar Evers College Adult Education Department

MFY Legal Service


National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

New York State Bar Association

NY Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) Coalition with Legal Aid Society, Bronx Defenders, Make the Road New York, Center for Popular Democracy, Vera Institute, Cardozo Law School & Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

NYU Law School

Osborne Association


Parent Providers Coalition (Bronx Defenders, Center for Family Representation)

Pinkerton Fellows at John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Pro Bono Scholars

Ridgewood-Bushwick Young Adult Literacy Program

Shorefront YM-YWHA, Brighton-Manhattan Beach, Inc.

Shriver Center




Young New Yorkers



If you are a Brooklyn resident and cannot afford an attorney, BDS will provide free advice.

In fear of being arrested? Call 718-254-0700 and ask for the operator.

In fear of having your children removed? Call 347-592-2500.



BDS Criminal Defense Practice will be interviewing third year law students this fall for full-time post-graduate positions that would begin in September 2018. Our interviewers will meet with candidates at the law schools and job fairs listed below. All interested candidates who are currently attending one of the law schools we will be visiting should apply for an interview through their institution’s on-campus interviewing (OCI) Symplicity system. Students who are not attending one of the schools listed below should apply through one of the job fairs we are attending. Alternatively, students not attending one of the listed schools and not able to attend one of the job fairs may apply by submitting their cover letter and resume directly to rlafontaine@bds.org before the December 1st, 2017 deadline.

Admitted attorneys with a demonstrated commitment to criminal defense may apply to be interviewed in our Brooklyn office by submitting a cover letter and resume directly to BDS. Submissions should be addressed to Richard LaFontaine, Esq., Director of Recruiting, 177 Livingston Street, 7th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11021, and may be mailed or sent via email to rlafontaine@bds.org

Law Schools:

Harvard Law School         Sept. 14

St. John’s Law School      Sept. 12

Cardozo Law School        Sept. 13

Columbia University         Sept. 18

CUNY Law School             Sept. 19

Northeastern University Sept. 25

Fordham Law School       Sept. 25

New York Law School      Sept. 25

Brooklyn Law School       Sept. 26

Pace Law School               Sept. 27

Touro Law School            Sept. 28

Hofstra Law School          October 3

NYU School of Law          October 4

Job Fairs:

Mass. Law Consortium    October 2, 3

Equal Justice Works         October 27, 28

Georgetown/GWU           January 2018

NYU PILC Fair                    March 2018


BDS seeks a dynamic admitted attorney as Pro Bono Counsel. This individual would manage the pro bono program across all of BDS’ practice areas and must be able to work to work in a fast-paced multi-disciplinary defense organization whose mission is to serve clients in Brooklyn.

See idealist.org for full job posting. 


Brooklyn Defender Services seeks to hire an experienced Staff Attorney with at least two years of child welfare or related experience to join our Family Defense Practice.

See full job posting on Idealist.


BDS seeks an energetic individual who is willing to become an integral part of the criminal defense social work team. The individual will be expected to take on administrative aspects for the team as well as maintain professional relationships with service providers in the community.

See full job posting on idealist.org.



We seek both newer and more experienced immigration attorneys with relevant experience to join our Immigration Practice.

See full posting on idealist.org.


Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) seeks to hire a staff attorney to join our Civil Justice Practice in providing multi-disciplinary legal assistance to clients involved with the criminal, family or immigration court systems.

See idealist.org for the full job posting.


BDS seeks a social worker to become part of its Family Defense Practice’s out of court advocate team of social workers and parent advocates. BDS’ Family Defense Practice (FDP) represents parents in child welfare cases in Brooklyn Family Court. FDP advocates for clients who have diverse, complex and multi-faceted needs in a high volume and very face-paced setting.

See the full job posting on idealist.org.


Criminal Defense Practice Brooklyn Defender Services’ intensive training program is designed for recent law graduates and attorneys who are new to the practice of criminal law in New York. Attorneys spend the first few weeks of their employment at BDS attending in-house lectures on various aspects of criminal defense, shadowing experienced attorneys and practicing their skills through simulations of various aspects of criminal practice.

The Appellate Division has granted us a student practice order which gives us the right to have law students and law graduates working for BDS to appear in court even though they are not yet admitted to practice law. This allows our interns, fellows and recent law graduates to handle cases with supervision.


Law Student Summer Internships

BDS has many relationships with local educational institutions, including clinical study programs from New York University Law School (the Offender Re-Entry Clinic, the Family Defense Clinic and the Community Defender Clinic), the Youth Justice Clinic of Cardozo Law School, the Criminal Defense Clinic of St. John’s School of Law and the CUNY Law School Family Law Concentration Clinic.

Brooklyn Defender Services also offers full-time summer internships to law students who have completed their second year of law school and have a commitment to public defense. The internship program lasts ten weeks. Intern duties may include legal research and writing, representation of clients in arraignments (under supervision), court appearances, client and witness interviews, trial preparation and investigation assistance.

Our law student summer internship program is extremely competitive and positions are limited. To apply for a criminal position, please send a cover letter and a resume to Jillian Modzeleski at jmodzeleski@bds.org. If you are interested in a family defense internship contact Chas Budnick at cbudnick@bfdp.bds.org.  Selected applicants will be interviewed and decisions made by March 2017.

All internships are volunteer positions. However, BDS will work with students to secure funding from outside sources or class credits where available.

Postgraduate Law Fellowships

Brooklyn Defender Services hosts fellows to work in our office on special projects. Each year, we aim to identify law student fellowship applications that meet our mission of serving underprivileged clients in Brooklyn through innovative proposals. These include Equal Justice Works fellowships, Skadden fellows, and Soros fellowships among others. We additionally welcome law students from around the country whose law schools have fellowship placement options, particularly post-graduate fellowships. Applications for fellowships for the upcoming year are now closed.

Investigative Assistant Internships

BDS seeks undergraduates and recent college graduates with an interest in and a commitment to social and criminal justice issues for our Investigative Assistant Internship. Investigators locate, interview and take detailed statements from the witnesses, run background checks on witnesses and police officers, review video surveillance footage, draft and serve subpoenas, photograph and diagram crime scenes, and transcribe audio recordings. Investigative assistants additionally provide administrative assistance to the investigator team.

While some of the investigative assistant’s work will take place in the office, much of it will be out in the field—in private homes, in local businesses, on the street and in the greater community. Ideal applicants should be comfortable working all over Brooklyn and should possess characteristics necessary to approach and interact with strangers about sensitive subjects. Candidates must be able to work in a collaborative setting and be able to produce high-quality written work.

The internship has a rolling admission deadline, and start and end dates can accommodate academic schedules. The internship will start with an intensive, multi-disciplinary two-week training where the interns will rotate shadowing some of our staff investigators. Investigative assistants will learn about our progressive approach to representation, our different practice areas and the laws and ethics involved in investigation. Following the initial training period, investigative assistants will continue to receive ongoing training and supervision from an experienced staff investigator who will serve as a mentor and will be responsible for assigning cases.

Required qualifications and abilities:
– Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
– Interest in criminal justice, especially the fields of criminal defense and the rights of the accused
– Strong writing ability
– Fluency in another language is highly desired, but not required

This internship is unpaid. We strongly encourage interns to apply to grants, fellowships or any other funding available through school or third-party organizations. Interns will be provided with unlimited monthly metro cards for the duration of their internship.

To apply, submit a resume and cover letter to Jheimy Soto (jsoto@bds.org) with the subject “Investigative Assistant Application.” Please specify which cycle you are applying to work for and if you will be working full or part time (e.g., Summer 2017, full time). Resumes and cover letters will only be accepted by email; no phone calls, please. If selected for an interview, applicants will be notified on a rolling basis.



September 20, 2017

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committee on Aging in support of Int. No. 1616–– a Local Law in relation to establishing a temporary task force on post-conviction reentry for older adults. (PDF)

September 18, 2017

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committee on Courts and Legal Services Hearing on New York’s Integrated Domestic Violence Courts. (PDF)

September 13, 2017

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee oversight hearing on Best Practices for NYC Agencies, Courts, And Law Enforcement Authorized to Certify Immigrant Victims for U and T Visas. (PDF)

September 7, 2017

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committee on Public Safety  & Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services joint Oversight Hearing on NYPD’s Responses to Persons in Mental Health Crisis (PDF)

June 29, 2017

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committees on Courts and Legal Services & Immigration Oversight Hearing on ICE Enforcement in NYC Courts. (PDF)

June 19, 2017

BDS BIA Accredited Representative Lindsey Buller testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Immigration hearing on Supporting New York City’s DREAMers and “DACA-mented” Youth. (PDF)

June 14, 2017

BDS Supervising Criminal Defense Attorney Yung-Mi Lee testifies before the NYC Council in support of legislation (Intro 1482) to require basic transparency in the NYPD’s use of surveillance technologies (PDF )

May 30, 2017

BDS Calls for an NYC Council Health Committee hearing on HealingNYC’s allocation of opioid overdose prevention funds to the NYPD (PDF )

May 25, 2017

BDS submits written testimony to the NYC Council Executive Budget Hearing about the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) (PDF )

May 24, 2017

BDS letter to NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Correction Committee Chair David Weprin urging passage of the #HALTsolitary Confinement Act (PDF )

May 16, 2017

The Repeal the #BlindfoldLaw Coalition one-pager on the urgent need for discovery reform (PDF )

May 3, 2017

BDS testifies in front of the NYC Council Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services on Legislation to Remove Bureaucratic Obstacles to Paying Bail (PDF )

April 26, 2017

BDS testifies in front of the NYC Council Committee on Immigration, Committee on Public Safety and Committee on Education Joint Budget Hearing on Immigration and the Need for Increased Immigration Legal Services Funding (PDF )

April 24, 2017

BDS testifies in front of the New York City Council on Public Housing and Oversight & Investigations on Permanent Exclusions (PDF )

March 22, 2017

BDS testifies in front of the New York City Council Budget Hearing on Immigration (PDF )

March 15, 2017 

BDS testifies in front of the New York City Council Committee on Immigration on the Impact of New Immigration Enforcement Tactics on Access to Justice and Services (PDF )

March 7, 2017

BDS testifies in front of the New York City Council Committee on Courts and Legal Services Preliminary Budget Hearing (PDF )

February 13, 2017

BDS testifies in support of #FairFares for low-income New Yorkers at NYC Council (PDF )

BDS testifies in support of legislation related to fostering family engagement in juvenile detention facilities at NYC Council (PDF )

February 9, 2017

Memo of Support of A4880 (Blake), An Act to Amend the Insurance Law, in Relation to Charitable Bail Organizations (PDF )

February 6, 2017

BDS testifies on raising the age of criminal responsibility before the NYS Senate (PDF )

Check out our infographic on our Raise the Age adolescent court model here.

January 19, 2017

BDS testifies on raising the age of criminal responsibility at NYC Council (PDF )

January 11, 2017

Joint Letter from Public Defenders and Civil Rights Organizations to NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito calling for a Vote and Passage of the Right to Know Act (PDF )

Read more on the Right to Know Act

December 22, 2016

BDS Letter to Governor Cuomo Provides Concrete Steps that New York Can Take to Protect Immigrants from Mass Deportation (PDF )

December 20, 2016

BDS submits comments to the NYC Department of Education on proposed amendments to Chancellor’s Regulations A-210 & A-750 (PDF )

December 19, 2016

BDS’ testifies on the need to end the criminalization of poverty in fare evasion enforcement and reinvest resources in fare assistance at the MTA (PDF )

December 14, 2016

BDS testifies about child welfare preventive services at NYC Council (PDF )

December 1, 2016

Andrea Sáenz and Nyasa Hickey, Supervising Attorneys in BDS’ Immigration Practice, Spearhead Letter from Immigration Legal Service Providers & Advocates to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Supporting Urgent Reform of New York’s High-Arrest Policies to Prevent Detention and Deportation of Immigrant New Yorkers (PDF )

November 30, 2016

BDS testifies about educational services for youth detained on Rikers Island at NYC Council (PDF )

November 2, 2016

BDS testifies about the Nuisance Abatement Fairness Act at NYC Council (PDF )

October 31, 2016

BDS and The Bronx Defenders submit joint testimony on vulnerable families’ interactions with city agencies before, during and after child welfare proceedings to NYC Council (PDF )

October 26, 2016

BDS testifies about Justice Reboot at NYC Council (PDF )

October 21, 2016

BDS testifies about police accountability and the Civilian Complaint Review Board at NYC Council (PDF )

BDS testifies about multi-agency support for immigrant families at NYC Council  (PDF )

September 26, 2016

BDS testifies about new jail legislation at NYC Council (PDF )

September 23, 2016

BDS testifies about wrongful convictions at NYC Council (PDF )

September 21, 2016

BDS testifies about engaging incarcerated youth and their families at NYC Council (PDF )

September 15, 2016

BDS testifies about civil forfeiture as extortion of the poor at NYC Council  (PDF )

September 14, 2016

BDS Joins 340+ Civil & Human Rights Organizations in Telling DHS: Stop Detaining Immigrants in Private Prisons (PDF )

August 29, 2016

BDS Joins Nine Other Organizations in Opposing DOC’s Plan to End the Transgender Housing Unit in City Jails  (PDF )

June 28, 2016

BDS Sends Letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo Requesting His Signature on Gravity Knife Reform Legislation (PDF )

Check out our infographic on gravity knives, “Why Are Carpenters Being arrested for Carrying Their Tools?”  here.

June 23, 2016

BDS testifies on improving access to criminal courts and compliance with the ADA at NYC Council (PDF )

June 2, 2016

BDS testifies in support of legislation requiring DOC to provide free feminine hygiene products in City jails at NYC Council (PDF )

May 26, 2016

BDS testifies on RAP sheet errors and court record accuracy at NYC Council Committee on Courts and Legal Services Hearing (PDF )

BDS testifies on correctional healthcare at NYC Council (PDF )

May 3, 2016

BDS Testifies at NYC Council Committee on Public Safety and the Committee on Oversight and Investigations (PDF )

April 6, 2016

BDS Memos in Support of Two Bills to Decriminalize Possession of Common Workers’ Utility Knives (A4821/S3675 PDF) (A9042/S6483 PDF )

Check out our infographic on gravity knives, “Why Are Carpenters Being arrested for Carrying Their Tools?”  here.

April 5, 2016

BDS submits testimony in support of Resolution 928A-2015 at NYC Council (PDF )

March 28, 2016

BDS Testifies at NYC Council Committee on Immigration Budget Hearing (PDF )

BDS immigration client Samuel David Flores Murillo testifies at NY City Council Immigration Committee Budget and NYIFUP Hearing (English) (PDF )

Testimonio de David Flores Murillo – NY City Council Immigration Committee Budget and NYIFUP Hearing (Spanish) (PDF )

March 23, 2016

BDS Testifies at NY City Council Committee on Courts and Legal Services Preliminary Budget Hearing (PDF )

March 21, 2016

BDS testifies on proposed rule changes at NYC Human Rights Commission Hearing (PDF )

March 1, 2016

BDS Releases Statement in Support of Kalief’s Law (S5988A/A8296A) (PDF )

February 29, 2016

BDS testifies about speedy trial concerns in NYC courts at NYC Council (PDF )

February 4, 2016

BDS testifies about students who are homeless or in temporary housing at NYC Council (PDF )

January 25, 2016

BDS testifies about proposed changes to enforcement of quality of life offenses at NYC Council (PDF )

January 12, 2016

BDS testifies on proposed rules for U Visa certification requests at NYPD Hearing (PDF )

December 15, 2015

BDS testifies on the need to reform NYCHA’s permanent exclusion policy at NYC Council (PDF )

BDS testifies on abuse and mistreatment of women in City jails at NYC Council (PDF )

December 9, 2015
BDS testifies on the need for more resources for unaccompanied immigrant minors at NYC Council (PDF )

December 4, 2015
BDS testifies about Client Satisfaction Survey at NYC Council (PDF )

November 6, 2015
Supplemental BDS Testimony before NYC Board of Corrections Opposing Jail Visiting Restrictions and Rollback of Solitary Confinement Reforms (PDF )

October 19, 2015
BDS Testifies on the Impacts of Court Obstacles and Overcriminalization on Immigrants at NYC Council (PDF )

Clarence Threlkeld, BDS Immigration Client, Testifies Before City Council About His Courthouse Arrest by ICE (PDF )

October 16, 2015
BDS Response to Discriminatory Department of Correction Plan to Restrict Visiting and Packages and to Rollback Solitary Confinement Reforms

October 13, 2015
BDS Testifies on the Department of Correction’s New Policy on Uniforms for People in City Jails at NYC Board of Correction Hearing  (PDF )

October 1, 2015
BDS testifies about youth homelessness at NYC Council (PDF )

September 18, 2015
BDS testifies on the effectiveness of Human Trafficking Intervention Courts at NYC Council (PDF )

BDS testifies about creating a task force to study veterans in the criminal justice system at NYC Council (PDF )

August 18, 2015
BDS Expresses Strong Support for Kalief’s Law (S. 5988/A. 7841) to Ensure Swifter Resolution for Defendants (PDF )

June 17, 2015
BDS Testifies at NYC Council Oversight Hearing on New York’s Bail System and the Need for Reform (PDF )

June 12, 2015
Memo of Support for A2699/ S5593 & A2990/S2029 to Seal Certain Criminal Convictions and “Ban the Box” on Job Applications (PDF )

May 7, 2015
BDS testifies about criminal justice reform at the NYS Assembly (PDF )

May 6, 2015
BDS Testifies on Dept. of Correction Reporting Bills at NYC Council (PDF )

BDS testifies on the need for behavioral health screening in City jails at NYC Council (PDF )

BDS Calls for Provision of “Connections” guidebook to All DOC Detainees Upon Intake at NYC Council Committee on Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Hearing (PDF )

April 23, 2015
Memo of Support for S.3675/A.4821 to End the Criminalization of So-Called “Gravity Knives” (PDF )

April 14, 2015
BDS testifies on school discipline reform at NYC Council (PDF )

March 27, 2015
Testimony Before the New York City Council Committee on Courts & Legal Services Preliminary Budget Hearing (PDF )

March 20, 2015
Memo to Legislators: Raise the Age Reform Will Cause Additional Delays in Resolving Child Welfare Cases in Family Court (PDF )

March 17, 2015
Testimony before New York City Council on ACS & DHS Preliminary FY2016 Budget (PDF )

March 3, 2015
BDS testifies on healthcare in City jails before NYC Council (PDF )

Letter to NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Legislation Expanding Unconstitutional, Counterproductive Sex Offender Exclusions (PDF )

February 25, 2015
BDS’s Veterans Advocacy Specialist Cameron Mease Testifies at the NYC Council Hearing on Veterans Treatment Courts

February 23, 2015
Sergio Jimenez, Housing Unit Director at BDS, joins NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Advocates to Call for Improved Language Access in Housing Courts

February 10, 2015
BDS Calls for Board of Correction Scrutiny of DOC’s Implementation of New Solitary Rules

December 30, 2014
BDS Sends Open Letter to City, State, & Federal Elected Officials Urging Intervention to Stop DOC’s Expansion of Solitary Confinement through “Enhance Supervision Housing Unit” program

December 19, 2014
BDS testifies at Board of Corrections hearing on Enhanced Supervision Housing

December 9, 2014
Sergio Jimenez, Director of BDS’ Civil Justice Practice, Testifies before the NYS Assembly Hearing on Civil Forfeiture (PDF )

November 13, 2014
BDS’s Lisa Schreibersdorf Speaks to the NYS Assembly on the Fundamental Inappropriateness of Prisons and Jails as Mental Health Treatment

October 8, 2014
BDS Testifies before the NYC Council on (Mis)Treatment of Adolescents in New York City Jails

June 12, 2014
BDS’s Lisa Schreibersdorf Speaks in Support of NYC Council Bill Requiring Public Reporting on DOC’s Use of Solitary Confinement


Brooklyn Defender Services handles approximately 40 percent of the overall criminal cases for the Borough of Brooklyn, making our client profile indicative, if not entirely representational, of the wider law enforcement trends across the city, as they pertain to arrests, custody and court adjudication.



BDS’s Special Litigation Counsel works with BDS defenders and clients, outside counsel and activists, to identify systemic criminal justice deficiencies and constitutional violations that unjustly affect criminal justice outcomes for our clients. Once identified, special litigation lawyers strategically litigate those issues in State and Federal courts to improve both process and outcomes for all accused New Yorkers. From challenging unreasonable bail conditions when a case starts to overbroad barriers to re-entry when it’s over, BDS is striving to make the criminal justice system accountable to those it intends to serve through its growing impact litigation practice.


Brooklyn Defender Services has amassed a wealth of experience and expertise on the complexities that inform our client’s lives and their involvement in the justice system. BDS works with each of the courts and other stakeholders to improve procedures and policies that affect our clients in each of the courts where we are the institutional provider.

As zealous advocates for our clients and the communities we serve, it is also our duty to contribute to the larger conversations taking place within the criminal, family and immigration justice systems in order to facilitate meaningful changes. Through our presence on working groups and coalitions, the use of our external communications, position papers, blog, and other forums we seek to educate system players, legislators and community members about the critical issues facing our clients and give voice to some of New York’s most vulnerable populations.





Prosecutors have the power to end mass incarceration today. Learn what you can do to hold them accountable. Brooklyn votes Tuesday September 12! Over 1,000 elections nationwide in 2018.

Featuring the voices of: Deray McKesson (Black Lives Matter, Pod Save the People), Baratunde Thurston (Author, Comedian, Formerly The Onion, Daily Show), Adam Foss (Former Prosecutor), Nina Morrison (Innocence Project), John Pfaff (Professor, Author of “Locked In”), Brandon Buskey (ACLU), Josie Duffy Rice (Fair Punishment Project), Scott Hechinger (Public Defender, Brooklyn Defender Services).




The New York Times and the Marshall Project collaborated to shed light on New York’s unjust “Blindfold Law,” which allows prosecutors to withhold key evidence until trial.  To improve fairness in the criminal legal system and prevent wrongful convictions, Brooklyn Defender Services and a coalition of partners are working to repeal and replace the Blindfold Law with new legislation.



The Atlantic published an article on new legislation proposed by State Sen. Jesse Hamilton  and Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright that would decriminalize turnstile jumping. “Instead of making the fiscally sound and just decision to help enhance access through reduced-fare Metro Cards or free Metro Cards, we do the opposite: We arrest; we lock people up,”  said BDS’ Scott Hechinger.



The 2017 National Organization of Forensic Social Work Conference was held in Boston, Massachusetts from July 27-29.  The theme of the conference was Social Justice Rising.  Brooklyn Defender Services was represented at the conference and social workers from the Criminal Defense and Adolescent practices facilitated workshops.   The topics and social workers involved included:

Moving Social Justice Forward Through the Written Word: How to Advocate for Clients Who Commit Crimes or Moral Turpitude
Mary Coyle, Alexis Telfair-Garcia

Adolescence in the Age of Mass Incarceration: An Interdisciplinary Approach
Elia Johnson, Ronald Schneider, Brenda Zubay




Brooklyn Defender Services calls for the immediate passage of S.6176 (Little)/A. 588A (Rosenthal). The bill would require that all women who are incarcerated in New York State or City facilities have access to free feminine hygiene products.

Learn more about this critical issue in a recent N.Y. Times article featuring BDS Jail Services Social Worker Kelsey DeAvila.

A copy of our memo in support is here.



BDS, as a member of the ASFA Coalition, a coalition of child welfare agency, parent, and child advocate groups, signed a memorandum in support of S04833,A07554, a bill which makes two important modifications to the existing Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP ) statute that would allow greater number of children to be discharged from foster care to permanent homes under the program

Read the full memo here.