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

ABOUT

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES

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 45,000 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.

PRACTICE AREAS

  • Criminal Defense

  • Family Defense

  • Immigration

  • Civil Justice

  • Special Projects

PARTNERS

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.

826NYC

Brooklyn Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyer’s Project

Brooklyn Justice Corps

Brooklyn Justice Initiatives

Brownsville Community Justice Center

Center for Community Alternatives

Good Shepherd Services

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Pinkerton Fellows at John Jay College of Criminal Justice

 

HISTORY AND ACHIEVEMENTS

In 1996, Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) was selected by the City of New York to become the first borough-specific indigent defense office to handle the cases of poor people arrested in Brooklyn. At that time, BDS represented 10,000 clients each year. In the ensuing years, BDS has established itself as a nationally known public defender office that provides extensive services to the poor community in Brooklyn. BDS employs a large staff of highly dedicated and vibrant attorneys, social workers, investigators and support personnel who work on matters of utmost urgency for the clients we represent—our core public defense practice consists of criminal, family and immigration defense for people facing the dire consequences of imprisonment, loss of their children or deportation.

Originally, BDS represented 10% of the people charged with crimes in Brooklyn. It has since grown to 45%. Our family defense practice handles approximately 80% of the cases of parents facing allegations of abuse or neglect. With the addition of immigration, housing, education and other legal services, BDS has become the largest one-stop legal office for poor people in Brooklyn.

  • 1996 Awarded New Indigent Defense Contract; 10,000 cases funded by Criminal Justice Coordinator’s Office (first time a new institutional defender added to Brooklyn criminal courts)
  • 2001 Adds specialized mental health practice — funded by the Open Society Institute and Van Ameringen Foundation
  • 2002 Works with the Fortune Society to provide Family Court services to ex-offenders
  • 2003 Adds crossover criminal/family practice with funding from New York City Council
  • 2006 Grows from handling 10% of indigent defense case to 20%.
  • 2008 Begins immigration practice
  • 2010 Creates Haitian Immigration Legal Assistance Program in collaboration with local bar associations, a pro bono project later funded by New York Community Trust
  • 2011 Creates and chairs Brooklyn’s multi-agency Racial Justice Task Force — funded by the American Bar Association and the United States Bureau of Justice Assistance
  • 2012 Incorporates Family Defense contract from Legal Services of New York City
  • 2013 Brooklyn Defender Services creates first-in-nation public defense program for detained immigrants
  • 2014 Adds Housing, Benefits and Education Units to Civil Justice Practice
  • 2014 Begins Jail-Based Services Project

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Kevin Snover, Chairman of the Board
Gregory Cerchione, Secretary
Jeffrey Rona, Treasurer
Andrea Bonina, Board Member
Jean Hegler, Board Member
Lisa Schreibersdorf, Board Member and Executive Director

PRO BONO AT BDS

Partnerships between public and private attorneys are essential to meet the needs of poor people in Brooklyn. Coordinated by our Pro Bono Counsel, our pro bono program allows private attorneys to work on cases in a variety of ways: representing a client, assisting with impact litigation, and in coordination with the Volunteer Lawyers Project. In addition to professional development, BDS’s pro bono program offers a unique opportunity for attorneys to make an impact in the lives of those most in need of—and with the least access to—quality legal representation.

While zealously advocating on behalf of every individual client, BDS engages in impact litigation and advocacy to reform laws and policies that criminalize poverty and compromise fundamental rights to dignity, family security, and economic opportunity. For example, with pro bono law firm partners, BDS has established a Bail Fund to help clients with low-level misdemeanor charges pay bail and avoid the often devastating consequences of pre-trial detention.

Our community lawyering initiative mobilizes volunteer attorneys, law students and community groups to respond to emerging legal needs in the broader community. In partnership with the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, BDS hosts community legal clinics to assist undocumented Haitian New Yorkers obtain for Temporary Protected Status, and to assist young people or “DREAMers” register for deferred deportation and work authorization.

If you are interested in partnering with BDS on a pro bono matter, please contact Sarah Nolan, Pro Bono Counsel at snolan@bds.org or 718-254-0700 ext. 148.

CLIENT EXPERIENCES WITH BDS

September 2014

A BDS investigator was recently out on an investigation on the street in Crown Heights talking to a likely witness/friend of a client who wasn’t really warming up to him.   The witness/friend wasn’t hostile, but he wasn’t very forthcoming either.  As the investigator was trying to finesse some more information out of the witness, he noticed someone approach the house from behind him.  The investigator turned toward the person and they made eye contact.

It was “Mr. Johnson,” a former client, and he broke out into the biggest smile and acted like the investigator was an old friend.  The guy he had been talking to immediately started telling the investigator more, interrupted by the two of them talking about how good Brooklyn Defender Services is, how many people they know whom we’ve helped.  “Mr. Johnson” told the other guy that BDS had helped him beat all four counts he faced [he was acquitted of the charges against him].  As a result of this encounter, our current client’s friend/witness gave the investigator his full name and number, said of course he’d try to help us out, since we had helped his friend, and asked for a few more cards to give to anyone who might be able to share more information.

It was a great moment, and now a current client of ours will be better served because of the work we did for “Mr. Johnson” and others.

INFORMATION

NEED HELP?

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.

OPPORTUNITIES

FAMILY DEFENSE PRACTICE SOCIAL WORKER

FAMILY DEFENSE PRACTICE SOCIAL WORKER

Brooklyn Defender Services is an interdisciplinary law office that represents almost 40,000 indigent clients arrested each year with specialized legal services for young clients and those with immigration issues.  The 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.  FDP seeks a social worker to become part of the out of court advocate team of social workers and parent advocates.

Social workers team up with attorneys and parent advocates to provide comprehensive legal representation to our clients.  They advocate for clients at agency case conferences, conduct client assessments, do crisis intervention management, develop service plans for clients, work closely with attorneys to determine case strategy, refer clients for services, communicate with service providers about clients’ needs, and conduct home visits.

Qualifications: Applicants must have a Master’s Degree in Social Work and be licensed or willing and eligible to become licensed.   Applicants should possess excellent interpersonal, analytical, writing, and organizational skills and be willing to work as part of a team in a very fast-paced environment.  Strong preference will be given to applicants who have experience in mental health issues, family court and/or the child welfare system.  Bi-lingual social workers are strongly encouraged to apply; in particular FDP seeks Spanish speaking applicants. FDP seeks applicants with 2-5 years’ experience.

Salary and benefits are determined based on years and level of experience.  Please send a resume and cover letter to Gittel Kagan at jobs.bfdp@bfdp.bds.org. Please include social work position in the subject line.

Candidates selected for interviews will be contacted.

Brooklyn Defender Services is an equal opportunity employer and considers all applications without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, disability, socio-economic status, marital or veteran status, or sexual orientation.

PUBLIC RELATIONS ASSOCIATE

Public Relations Associate

BDS is a large public defense office in New York. We represent more than 45,000 clients per year in a variety of legal proceedings in New York City, primarily indigent criminal, family, and immigration defense. BDS represents clients who have diverse, complex and multi-faceted needs in a high volume and very fast-paced setting.

Brief Description of Job

BDS is looking for an individual to work in fast-paced multi-disciplinary defense organization to assist with our public presence; in the print media, online and in the community.  The ideal candidate will have at least 2-5 years of relevant experience with communications including developing and placing stories in national and local media and effectively utilizing social media. Excellent writing and editing skills required.

Qualifications

  • Experienced in external communications and/or public relations
  • Experienced in the non-profit sector and/or government
  • Excellent writing and editing skills
  • Demonstrated ability to place stories to maximize public reach and information
  • The ideal candidate would also have a strong commitment to public interest and social justice
  • Strong social skills
  • A proactive ability to solve problems under time pressure
  • Experience in and knowledge of WordPress or other web platforms a plus
  • Fundraising experience a plus

Responsibilities

  • Cultivate press contacts
  • Liaise with press
  • Collaborate with other team members to develop and drive strategy to establish the organization’s traditional and new media presence
  • Attend relevant events to photograph and promote BDS’s community activities and partnerships

How to Apply:  Send cover letter and resume to Nick Malinowski at nmalinowski@bds.org.

Deadline: August 1, 2015

BDS is an equal opportunity employer which supports a policy of non-discrimination in all employment practices including, but not limited to, hiring, transfer, promotions, training, compensation, benefits, lay-offs, and terminations. 

FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITY

Fellowship Opportunity 

Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) seeks rising third year law students, judicial law clerks and, where appropriate, recent law school graduates to sponsor for post-graduate public interest law fellowships, including but not limited to Equal Justice Works, Soros Justice, Skadden, Liman, and Kirkland & Ellis fellowships.

Founded in 1996, BDS is the only public defender office to serve Brooklyn residents exclusively. Today we are one of the city’s largest legal service providers, providing criminal defense, family defense, and immigration legal services; our staff of 151 attorneys, with the support of 83 social workers, investigators, parent advocates, paralegals, and administrative assistants, represents 45,000 clients every year.

BDS protects the due process and civil legal rights of poor Brooklyn residents. We believe all people—regardless of economic means—deserve respect, individualized care and the fullest extent of legal protections, whether accused of a crime or facing a civil legal obstacle to justice and opportunity. We are an interdisciplinary and increasingly holistic legal services provider, bringing lawyers and social workers together to meet our clients’ varied needs.

Practice Areas

Criminal Defense Candidates for the Criminal Defense Practice should possess qualities that clearly demonstrate they will excel as career public defenders in one of the nation’s premiere criminal defense law firms. Students will have ideally taken trial advocacy, evidence, ethics, criminal law and criminal procedure courses leading up to their J.D. degree. We are particularly interested in students who have participated in clinical programs involving client representation at those law schools which offer such programs. We also seek candidates with a demonstrated commitment to serving the public interest, as expressed by coursework, internships and extra-curricular activities. Prospective attorneys in the Criminal Defense Practice must have an appreciation of, and ability to relate to, the obstacles faced by our indigent clients, both in their Brooklyn neighborhoods and in negotiating the vagaries of New York’s criminal justice system.

Family Defense The Family Defense Practice represents low income parents in child welfare and related family court cases in Brooklyn Family Court. Through motion practice, hearings, and appellate work, attorneys advocate strongly for parents’ due process rights by fighting unwarranted state intervention in their lives. The practice provides comprehensive representation in an interdisciplinary setting to help families obtain the benefits and services they need to keep their families safe and stable, including assistance on housing, immigration, public benefits and domestic violence matters. Attorneys spend most of their days in court and frequently conduct hearings and trials, often on an emergency basis. Staff attorneys are expected to provide high-quality and vigorous representation at all court appearances and throughout the course of a case. The practice also advocates for systemic change in the family court and child welfare systems. Candidates are expected to have excellent written and oral communication skills and to be prepared to work in a very high volume, fast passed setting.

Immigration Practice BDS’s Immigration Practice provides a wide array of services to its clients. Our “Padilla” team provides criminal defense practice attorneys and their clients with advice about the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. Immigration attorneys intervene in the criminal case early on to avoid or minimize the immigration consequences of contact with the criminal justice system. BDS immigration attorneys also take on cases for direct representation and help clients apply for citizenship, green cards, visas for domestic violence or trafficking victims, and other immigration benefits. The Immigrant Youth Project provides a full range of immigration legal services to our young immigrant clients, representing clients in Family Court SIJS proceedings, affirmative benefits, and removal proceedings. In addition, since November 2013, BDS has been serving as assigned counsel under the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project—a first-in-nation program that provides legal representation for indigent New Yorkers in detained removal proceedings. Candidates must possess a demonstrated ability to perform nuanced legal research and writing at the highest standard, to communicate clearly and effectively through writing, to be a team player, and to have the strong organizational skills required to represent numerous clients. Clinical or professional background in criminal and/or immigration law is preferred.

Civil Justice Unit The civil justice unit aims to reduce the civil collateral consequences for low-income clients who have had interaction with the criminal, family or immigration justice systems. Through legal advocacy in court and at various agencies, we assist people in remaining in their homes, maintaining their public benefits, staying in school, keeping their jobs, and protecting their consumer rights. In order to achieve these ends we practice in almost all of New York City’s courts at every level from trial to appellate courts. We also assist criminal defense attorneys and their clients by identifying potential civil ramifications of guilty pleas and strategizing ways to minimize the risk of eviction, loss of employment and educational consequences as a result of a criminal conviction. The ideal applicant must be able to creatively problem solve, clearly communicate both orally and in writing, thrive in fast-paced, adversarial venues and wish to serve clients who have been arrested, are at risk of losing their children or are facing deportation.

Special Litigation Unit 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. Ideal candidates for the Special Litigation Unit would have a proven track record of high quality research and writing. Candidates should be interested in an innovative approach to complex legal issues at the intersection of criminal and constitutional law. Candidates should come with an interest in creative approach to law reform.

Qualifications

We are interested in sponsoring candidates with proposals that support BDS’s mission and extend our work in innovative ways. We are open to discussing any strong proposal, but are particularly interested in sponsoring fellows to (i) work within our Immigration Unit at the intersection of immigration and criminal law or the intersection of immigration and family law; (ii) grow our civil justice in the defense against other civil consequences of criminal accusations, such as in the areas of housing and property forfeiture; (iii) work within our Brooklyn Family Defense Practice; or (iv) join our special litigation unit to address systemic violations and deficiencies in the criminal justice system.

Candidates with diverse professional and life experiences are encouraged to apply. Candidates whose own background and experience reflect the diversity of Brooklyn’s communities are encouraged to apply.

Application Requirements

To apply, please submit a cover letter including project ideas and a statement of interest, resume, writing sample, and at least two references. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis with preference to those applying before July 15, 2015. Applications should be emailed to Marie Mark at mmark@bds.org.

CRIMINAL DEFENSE PRACTICE TRIAL ATTORNEYS

CRIMINAL DEFENSE PRACTICE TRIAL ATTORNEYS

BDS Criminal Defense Practice will be interviewing third year law students this fall for full-time post-graduate positions that would begin in September 2016. 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 must 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 to be interviewed via one of the three job fairs. Interested law graduates and admitted attorneys may apply to be interviewed in our Brooklyn office by submitting a cover letter and resume only during the submission period, October 5th 2015 to December 4th 2015.

Due to the large number of inquiries we receive and the small number of openings we anticipate, resumes submitted before or after the submission period will not be considered. 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

Harvard Law School                                                    September 11
New York Law School                                                  September 24
Brooklyn Law School                                                   September 25
Cardozo Law School                                                     September 30
Massachusetts Law Consortium                                October 5, 6
Touro Law School                                                         October 8
Fordham Law School                                                    October 16
CUNY Law School                                                         October 19
Hofstra Law School                                                       October 20
St. John’s Law School                                                   October 21
NYU School of Law                                                       October 22
Equal Justice Works                                                     October 23, 24
Howard University                                                       October 26
Georgetown/GWU                                                        TBA
NYU PILC Fair                                                              TBA

APPLY TO BDS

BDS has a number of employment opportunities available.  Information on specific positions within each practice area is provided, as well as information about how to apply.  The salary of all positions is commensurate on years of experience in accordance with BDS pay scale.

Family Defense Practice Staff Attorney

Job Description:  Brooklyn Defender Services Family Defense Practice (BFDP) seeks a staff attorney to begin immediately. BFDP represents low-income parents in child welfare and related family court cases in Brooklyn Family Court. Through holistic representation in an interdisciplinary setting, BFDP helps families obtain the benefits and services they need to keep their families safe and stable. BFDP also advocates for parents’ due process rights by fighting unwarranted state intervention in their lives. The office also advocates for systemic change in the family court and child welfare systems.

BFDP has a high volume and litigation-focused practice. Attorneys spend most of their days in court and frequently conduct hearings and trials, often on an emergency basis. Staff attorneys are expected to provide high-quality and vigorous representation at all court appearances and throughout the course of a case. Staff attorneys work closely with staff social workers and parent advocates to provide inter-disciplinary representation that includes assistance on related legal matters, such as housing, immigration, public benefits and domestic violence.

Qualifications: Candidates are expected to be admitted to the NYS Bar or awaiting admission and have excellent litigation and written and oral communication skills. Bi-lingual attorneys are encouraged to apply; in particular BFDP seeks Spanish speaking attorneys.

To Apply: Please send a resume and cover letter to jobs.bfdp@bfdp.bds.org including “Staff Attorney” on the subject line.

BDS is an equal opportunity employer which supports a policy of non-discrimination in all employment practices including, but not limited to, hiring, transfer, promotions, training, compensation, benefits, lay-offs, and terminations. BDS takes affirmative action to recruit members of minority groups into their applicant pool.

ATTORNEY TRAINING PROGRAM FOR NEW BDS EMPLOYEES

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.

INTERNSHIPS

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 is a ten week program. 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.

The 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 internship contact Chas Budnick at cbudnick@bfdp.bds.org. If you are interested in an immigration internship contact Nyasa Hickey at nhickey@bds.org. We will accept applications until January 15, 2015.  Selected applicants will be interviewed and decisions made by March 2015.

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

Each year, BDS applies for fellowships for attorneys to work in our office on special projects. This year, we have an 18-month Cardozo Law School Fellow working on the immigration defender project and other short-term fellows working in the family defense practice. If you are interested in a fellowship opportunity speak to Marie Mark at mmark@bds.org.

INVESTIGATIVE ASSISTANT INTERNSHIP

Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS), a progressive legal defense office in Brooklyn, New York, seeks undergraduates and recent college graduates with an interest in and a commitment to social and criminal justice issues for our Investigative Assistant Internship.

BDS is a non-profit public defense office that provides a variety of legal services to indigent clients throughout Brooklyn. BDS represents clients charged with criminal felonies and misdemeanors, as well as family, housing and immigration court matters. Attorneys, social workers and support staff focus on individual clients’ needs.

Our Investigative Assistant Internship pairs interns interested in criminal justice with investigators, who gather evidence critical to BDS’s clients’ cases. 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 each 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.

To apply, submit a resume and cover letter to Camille Fenton at cfenton@bds.org with the subject “Investigative Assistant Application.” 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.

POLICY

LETTERS AND TESTIMONY

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 testimony before Assembly on Criminal Justice Reform (PDF )

May 6, 2015
BDS Testifies at NYC Council Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services Hearing on DOC Reporting Bills (PDF )

Riley Doyle Evans, BDS’ Jail Services Coordinator, Testifies before the New York City Council on the Need for Behavioral Health Screening in City Jails (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
Keren Farkas, Director of BDS’ Education Unit, Testifies at NYC Council Hearing on School Discipline Reform (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’s Jail Services Coordinator Riley Doyle Evans Testifies at the NYC Council Hearing on Healthcare in City Jails

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

DATA AND REPORTS

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.

More

STRATEGIC LITIGATION

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.

ADVOCACY

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.

COURT INVOLVED YOUTH

NEWS

News

A RECENT COURTROOM SUCCESS

In 2013 BDS Attorney Renee Seman argued a Mapp hearing on behalf of a client who was arrested for possession of a gun — a charge he vehemently denied. After hearing the Detective’s testimony on a Wednesday, Hon. Judge Guy J. Mangano criticized what was incredible testimony by the officer and stated he would be issuing his decision on suppression the following Monday. Prior to the Judge’s decision, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office came back to the client with an offer of time served; having already served a year in jail and away from his wife, the client understandably took the offer so that he could go back to the life he had before he was falsely arrested for a crime he didn’t commit.

Renee was devastated about the guilty plea, believing firmly that her client was innocent and the case continued to haunt her. Believing in her client- Renee continued to advocate on his behalf and after much effort and as a result of her phenomenal advocacy, today June 26, 2015, in front of Judge Mangano, the DA’s office vacated the plea and dismissed the indictment.

Since his release, our client has gotten his life back, working hard at a great job and is back with his wife. After his plea was vacated, he left the courtroom, turned to Renee and said “you always had my back.”

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EXALT YOUTH PROGRAM HONORS BDS SOCIAL WORKER RONALD SCHNEIDER

From left to right: Ronald Schneider, Kevin Williams, Jolanda Porter

Ronald Schneider, BDS Social Work Team Leader for the Brooklyn Adolescent Representation Team, was honored on June 10, 2015 for his dedication and commitment to exalt and his unwavering dedication to youth.

exalt is a Brooklyn-based alternative to incarceration program that serves youth at all junctures along the spectrum of criminal justice involvement. The program aims to re-engage young people in their love for learning and, in helping them understand the urgency of taking action, to reverse their journey along the school-to-prison pipeline.

exalt Intern Liaison Kevin Williams, a former client of Ron’s, presented Ron with the award. Ron is a long-time supporter of exalt and the empowering programs that they provide for BDS’s clients.

Upon accepting his award, Ron spoke to the importance of the exalt program: “No child should be defined by the mistakes they are bound to make, but they should be nurtured and glorified for the unlimited potential for success that they all have.”

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BDS 2015 BENEFIT GALA

Hon. Michael Gerstein, Executive Director Lisa Schreibersdorf, Honoree Michael Baum, Esq., Hon. Andrew Borrok

On May 21st, BDS hosted its 2015 Benefit Gala, honoring Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, non-profit 826NYC, and Michael Baum, Esq.

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BDS IMMIGRATION PRACTICE DIRECTOR MARIANNE YANG RECEIVES NYC BAR ASSOCIATION 2015 LEGAL SERVICES AWARD

From left to right: Hon. Sheila Abdus-Salaam, Toby Golick, Jim Provost, Kim Susser, Marianne Yang, Mohammed Sheriff

On June 10th, Brooklyn Defender Services’ Immigration Director Marianne Yang received the New York City Bar Association‘s Legal Services Award, established to recognize the efforts of lawyers and non-lawyers who have directly provided free legal services to indigent clients on a full-time basis for an extended period of time.

Other 2015 Legal Services Award recipients include: Toby Golick, Cardozo Law School; Jim Provost, Manhattan Legal Services; Kim Susser, NYLAG; & Mohammed Sheriff, Bronx Defenders. Presenting the awards, on behalf of the NYC Bar Association, was the Honorable Sheila Abdus-Salaam, Judge of the New York Court of Appeals.