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

ABOUT

COVID-19 INFORMATION

Due to the ongoing public health emergency related to COVID-19, Brooklyn Defender Services’ physical offices are closed to visitors until further notice.

However, our staff continues working diligently on your cases and continues handling intake, arraignments, and emergencies. We are receiving calls and emails. If you are unable to reach our staff, please leave a message and we will respond as soon as we can. 

To access a directory of staff phone numbers, please click here.

To find a guide to available resource and services, please see our COVID-19 Resource Guide.

We understand that these are difficult times. We understand that life circumstances are being dramatically altered due to COVID-19.  We are available to help you. See below to learn more about how this affects your case and how to get in contact with our staff. 

 

For all criminal cases, including criminal cases sent to Family Court:

  • The criminal courts are closed except for arraignments, Youth Part 1 (YP1), and a limited number of urgent applications, all of which are being conducted by video. Although arraignments at 120 Schermerhorn St. are taking place by video, they are open to the public.  Members of the public can go to the arraignment courtroom on the first floor of 120 Schermerhorn St. and watch the video arraignment.  Arraignments of Adolescent Offenders in Youth Part 1 (YP1) at 320 Jay St. are also taking place by video.  Family and other members of the public may go to Youth Part 1 (YP1) and watch the video arraignment.
  • If you are a client or a family member of a client, do not go to court unless instructed to by an attorney. Most cases will be automatically adjourned to a new court date without clients appearing.
  • Your attorney will call you or your family with your new court date.
  • For questions about your case, if you already have your attorney’s phone number, please feel free to reach out to them directly. If not, or for additional information, please call 718-254-0700 or email bds@bds.org
  • Note: If you know or have a loved one incarcerated who is feeling ill or having difficulty accessing medical care, please contact Jail Services at 646-787-3325 (English) or 646-971-2710 (Spanish). The person must be represented by BDS.

 

For Family Court ACS cases:

  • Please do not travel to the Family Court as the Family Court is operating digitally and is hearing some cases remotely. If you are a client, please contact your attorney or social worker for your next court date and to discuss any issues you have with your family court case.
  • If you cannot reach your attorney or social worker or you have an emergency concerning removal of children, please call 347-592-2500. If someone doesn’t answer, we will call you back as quickly as possible.
  • If you are not a current BDS client but you are being investigated by ACS, please call 646-974-9343 for immediate assistance. If someone doesn’t answer, we will call you back as quickly as possible.

 

For Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Court cases:

  • IDV court is physically closed. Cases will be automatically adjourned to a new court date without clients appearing.
  • IDV court is able to hear limited emergency applications.
  • If you have an order that is not being followed or need further legal relief, please contact your IDV attorney (A staff directory is listed at the top of this page)
  • Your attorney will call you or your family with your new court date.

 

For immigration cases:

  • To reach our immigration practice, please call: 718-564-6290
  • For questions regarding DETAINED individuals ONLY: 347-768-3040
  • ICE continues enforcement operations, including arrests at homes, places of business, and near courthouses. Know Your Rights by watching our video series: www.wehaverights.us
  • Until the close of business on July 1, 2020, all in-person reporting requirements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been suspended, and all appointments to report in person to ICE/ERO New York City, or any ICE sub-office (Central Islip and Newburgh) as well as to report in person to ICE contractors (BI) on ATD have been cancelled and will be rescheduled, or you will be contacted telephonically. Previously scheduled telephonic reporting has not been suspended.
  • Hearings for detained individuals are still occurring at the New York Varick Street Immigration Court; most are being conducted by video teleconference.
  • EOIR: As previously announced, certain immigration courts have resumed non-detained hearings. Hearings in non-detained cases at courts without an announced date are postponed through, and including, July 24, 2020.
  • USCIS is reopening the local offices to the public for ceremonies on June 15, 2020 and will gradually schedule inter-views and appointments later in the month. (Additional information about details has not been provided). Applicants who are scheduled to come to the office will receive a notice and instructions in the mail. Individuals should check the USCIS website and read notices carefully regarding COVID-19 related precautions and requirements for in person appointments.

 

For housing or civil cases:

  • Housing Court, NYCHA, and Evictions:
    • As of June 20, Landlords are permitted to begin and file new eviction cases in Housing Court.
      • Landlords are only permitted to file new eviction cases by mail and tenants who are served with papers for an eviction case do not need to visit the courthouse to respond.   
      • All new eviction petitions are required to include a notice to tenants with information about how a tenant can contact a lawyer and how to respond to the petition by phone.
      • At this time, the court will not be defaulting tenants who fail to respond to an eviction petition.
    • However there will be no court dates until after July 6, whether a tenant responds or not. The court date may be a virtual appearance.
      • Lawyers for landlords who file a new eviction case must affirm to the court when they file that the eviction is not prohibited by:
        • The federal CARES Act moratorium on evictions prohibiting evictions of tenants in public housing, those with Section 8 rental vouchers, or those who live in buildings with federally backed mortgages or funding until at least August 25, 2020
        • The Governor’s Executive Order which suspends evictions for nonpayment of rent against tenants eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits or who have been financially impacted by COVID through August 20, 2020;
        • and all applicable court administrative orders.
    • Until further notice, the court is not scheduling conferences or hearings in pending eviction cases in housing court if the tenant does not have a lawyer
    • Housing Court remains open for applications addressing post-eviction relief, illegal lockouts, emergency apartment repairs.
    • Tenants who choose to do so may enter into written agreements with their landlords to apply their security deposits to rent and then pay back (replenish) the security deposit over a 12-month period that starts 90 days after the security deposit is applied to rent.
    • NYCHA and other administrative hearings are also postponed, with no return date scheduled yet.
    • If you are an existing client with questions about your case, please reach out to your attorney directly.
    • If you are a Brooklyn Defender Services client with a civil legal issue not yet working with our team, or don’t remember who you are working with, please reach out to our intake coordinator at 332-213-4193.

     

     

    ALL evictions in New York, residential and commercial, continue to be suspended until further notice, and at least until July 7.

    • Until August 21, marshals cannot evict tenants who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, for non-payment of rent.

 

For questions about public benefits:

  • All negative case actions have been canceled. Appointments have been rescheduled. Recertifications have been extended automatically.
  • If you need to apply for public assistance or SNAP you can do so online or via the HRA Access app: https://a069-access.nyc.gov/accesshra/.
  • Most HRA offices are closed! If you must visit in person call 311 for available locations.
  • Food assistance is available at a food pantry near you.  Call 311 for locations.
  • If you have questions, or would like to speak to the civil practice, please ask your attorney to make a referral or contact us at 332-213-4193.

 

For questions about education and employment

 

Community office:

  • Our community office is currently closed but we are working remotely and available to help.
  • If you have issues or questions about ACS, education, housing, education, employment, benefits, criminal matters or general legal issues, please call 646-971-2722 or email us at communityoffice@bds.org.

 

For all media and press inquiries please email Daniel Ball at dball@bds.org. 

COVID-19 INFORMACION

Debido a la actual emergencia de salud pública relacionada con el Coronavirus COVID-19, las oficinas físicas de Brooklyn Defender Services están cerradas a los visitantes hasta nuevo aviso.

Sin embargo, nuestro personal continúa trabajando diligentemente en sus casos y continúa manejando admisión, acusaciones y emergencias. Estamos recibiendo llamadas y correos electrónicos. Si no puede comunicarse con nuestro personal, deje un mensaje y le responderemos lo antes posible.

Para acceder al directorio de números de teléfono del personal, haga clic aquí.

Para encontrar una guía de recursos y servicios disponibles, consulte nuestra Guía de Recursos COVID-19.

Entendemos que estos son tiempos difíciles. Entendemos que las circunstancias de la vida están siendo alteradas dramáticamente debido al COVID-19. Estamos disponibles para ayudarlo. Consulte a continuación para obtener más información sobre cómo esto afecta su caso y cómo ponerse en contacto con nuestro personal.

 

 

Para todos los casos criminales, Incluyendo los casos enviados a la corte de familia:

  • Los tribunales penales están cerrados, excepto por comparecencias, Juventud Parte 1 (YP1) y un número limitado de solicitudes urgentes, las cuales se llevan a cabo por video. Aunque las comparecencias en el 120 de Schermerhorn St. se realizan por video, están abiertas al público. Los miembros del público pueden ir a la sala de comparecencia en el primer piso del 120 de Schermerhorn St. y ver el video de la misma. Las comparecencias de delincuentes adolescentes en Juventud Parte 1 (YP1) en el 320 de Jay St. también se llevan a cabo por video. Los familiares y otros miembros del público pueden ir a Juventud Parte 1 (YP1) y ver la comparecencia en video.
  • Si usted es un cliente, o un miembro de la familia de un cliente, no vaya a la corte a menos que se lo indique un abogado. La mayoría de los casos se pospondrán automáticamente y se les dará una nueva fecha en la corte sin que tengan que comparecer clientes.
  • Su abogado lo llamará a usted o su familia con su nueva fecha de corte.
  • Si tiene preguntas sobre su caso, o si tiene el número de teléfono de su abogado, no dude en comunicarse directamente. De lo contrario, o para obtener información adicional, llame al 718-254-0700 o envíe un correo electrónico a bds@bds.org.
  • Nota: si tiene un ser querido encarcelado que se siente enfermo o tiene dificultades para obtener atención médica, comuníquese con Servicios Carcelarios al 646-787-3325 (inglés) o al 646-971-2710 (español). La persona debe estar representada por BDS.

 

Para corte de Familia y casos de ACS:

  • No viaje al Tribunal de Familia ya que el Tribunal de Familia está funcionando digitalmente y está atendiendo algunos casos de forma remota. Si es cliente, comuníquese con su abogado o trabajador social para su próxima cita en la corte y para discutir cualquier problema que tenga con su caso en la corte de familia.
  • Si no puede comunicarse con su abogado o trabajador social, o tiene una emergencia relacionada con la remoción de niños, llame al 347-592-2500. Si alguien no responde, le devolveremos su llamada lo antes posible.
  • Si no es un cliente actual de BDS pero ACS lo está investigando, llame al 646-974-9343 para recibir asistencia inmediata. Si alguien no responde, le devolveremos su llamada lo antes posible.

 

Para casos judiciales de violencia doméstica integrada (IDV):

  • La corte IDV está físicamente cerrada. Los casos se reprogramarán automáticamente a una nueva fecha en la corte sin que comparezcan los clientes.
  • La corte IDV puede atender solicitudes limitadas de emergencia.
  • Si tiene una orden que no se está siguiendo o necesita más ayuda legal, comuníquese con su abogado de IDV (en la parte superior de esta página encontrará un directorio del personal).
  • Su abogado lo llamará a usted o su familia con su nueva fecha de corte.

 

Para casos de inmigración:

  • Número de teléfono de la práctica de inmigración de BDS: 718-564-6290
  • Para preguntas relacionadas ÚNICAMENTE con personas DETENIDAS: 347-768-3040
  • ICE continúa sus operaciones de aplicación de la ley, incluyendo arrestos en hogares, lugares de negocios y cerca de los tribunales. Conozca sus derechos viendo nuestra serie de videos: wehaverights.us
  • Hasta el cierre de negocios, el 1 de julio de 2020, todos los requisitos de presentación de informes en persona con el Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE) han sido suspendidos, y todas las citas para informar en persona a ICE / ERO New York City o cualquier sub-oficina (Central Islip y Newburgh), así como para informar en persona a los contratistas de ICE (BI) sobre ATD, se han cancelado y se reprogramarán, o se le contactará telefónicamente. Los informes telefónicos programados previamente no se han suspendido.
  • Las audiencias para las personas detenidas todavía se llevan a cabo en el Tribunal de Inmigración de Varick Street en Nueva York; la mayoría se realizan por video teleconferencia.
  • EOIR: Como se anunció previamente, ciertos tribunales de inmigración han reanudado las audiencias no detenidas. Las audiencias en los casos no detenidos en los tribunales sin una fecha anunciada se posponen hasta e inclusive el 24 de julio de 2020.
  • El USCIS abrirara sus oficinas locales al publico para ceremonias el dia 15 de Junio del 2020 y gradualmente dara citas para entrevistas y citas mas adelante este mes (informacion adicional sobre los detalles no han sido provistos). Aquellos aplicantes que tienen cita para visitar la oficina recibiran una noticia y instrucciones por medio del correo. Individuos deben de visitar la pagina de web del USCIS y leer las noticias cuidadosamente sobre el COVID-19, precauciones y requisitos para las citas en persona.

 

Para casos de vivienda o casos civiles:

Tribunal de Vivienda, NYCHA y desalojos:

  • TODOS los desalojos en Nueva York, residenciales y comerciales, continúan suspendidos hasta nuevo aviso, y al menos hasta el 7 de julio.
      • Hasta el 21 de agosto, los alguaciles no pueden desalojar a los inquilinos que han sido afectados financieramente por COVID-19, por falta de pago de la renta.
  • A partir del 20 de junio, los propietarios pueden comenzar y presentar nuevos casos de desalojo en el Tribunal de la Vivienda.
    • Los propietarios solo pueden presentar nuevos casos de desalojo por correo y los inquilinos que reciben documentos para un caso de desalojo no necesitan visitar el tribunal para responder.
    • Se requiere que todas las nuevas peticiones de desalojo incluyan un aviso a los inquilinos con información sobre cómo un inquilino puede contactar a un abogado y cómo responder a la petición por teléfono.
    • En este momento, el tribunal no incumplirá los inquilinos que no respondan a una petición de desalojo.
    • Sin embargo, no habrá fechas de corte hasta después del 6 de julio, ya sea que el inquilino responda o no. La fecha de corte puede ser una aparición virtual.
    • Los abogados de los propietarios que presentan un nuevo caso de desalojo deben afirmar ante el tribunal cuando presentan que el desalojo no está prohibido por:
      1. La moratoria de la Ley CARES federal sobre los desalojos que prohíben los desalojos de inquilinos en viviendas públicas, aquellos con vales de alquiler de la Sección 8 o aquellos que viven en edificios con hipotecas o fondos respaldados por el gobierno federal hasta al menos el 25 de agosto de 2020
      2. La Orden Ejecutiva del Gobernador que suspende los desalojos por falta de pago de la renta contra inquilinos elegibles para el seguro de desempleo o beneficios o que han sido afectados financieramente por COVID hasta el 20 de agosto de 2020;
      3. Y todas las órdenes administrativas judiciales aplicables.
  • Hasta nuevo aviso, el tribunal no programará conferencias o audiencias en casos de desalojo pendientes en el tribunal de vivienda si el inquilino no tiene un abogado
  • El Tribunal de la Vivienda permanece abierto para solicitudes que aborden el alivio posterior al desalojo, cierres ilegales, reparaciones de emergencia de apartamentos.
  • Los inquilinos que elijan hacerlo pueden firmar acuerdos por escrito con sus propietarios para aplicar sus depósitos de seguridad para alquilar y luego pagar (reponer) el depósito de seguridad durante un período de 12 meses que comienza 90 días después de que el depósito de seguridad se aplica al alquiler
  • NYCHA y otras audiencias administrativas también se posponen, sin fecha de regreso programada todavía.
  • Si ya es un cliente con preguntas sobre su caso, comuníquese directamente con su abogado.
  • Si usted es un cliente de Brooklyn Defender Services con un problema legal civil que aún no trabaja con nuestro equipo, o no recuerda con quién está trabajando, comuníquese con nuestro coordinador de admisión al 332-213-4193.

 

Para preguntas sobre beneficios públicos:

  • Todas las acciones de casos negativos han sido canceladas. Las citas han sido reprogramadas. Las recertificaciones se han extendido automáticamente.
  • Si necesita solicitar asistencia pública o SNAP, puede hacerlo en línea o mediante la aplicación HRA Access: https://a069-access.nyc.gov/accesshra/.
  • ¡La mayoría de las oficinas de HRA están cerradas! Si debe ir en persona, llame al 311 para conocer las ubicaciones disponibles.
  • Asistencia alimentaria está disponsible en una despensa de alimentos cerca de usted. Llame al 311 para conocer las ubicaciones.
  • Si tiene preguntas o desea hablar con la práctica civil, solicite a su abogado que lo remita o contáctenos al 332-213-4193.

 

Para preguntas sobre educación y empleo

  • Todas las escuelas del DOE están cerradas hasta nuevo aviso. La instrucción remota comenzó el 23 de marzo de 2020. Las familias que todavía necesitan tecnología para proporcionar instrucción remota deben completar esta encuesta, https://coronavirus.schools.nyc/RemoteLearningDevices o llamar al 718-935-5100.
  • Las comidas para llevar para TODOS LOS NEOYORQUINOS están disponibles en ciertas escuelas públicas de 7:30 a.m. a 1:30 p.m. https://www.opt-osfns.org/schoolfoodny/meals/default.aspx. Las familias pueden ir a la escuela más cercana para recoger alimentos, no necesitan ir a la escuela de sus hijos.
  • Hay más información y actualizaciones disponibles en el sitio web del DOE: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/health-and-wellness/coronavirus-update. El Departamento de Educación ha indicado que están comprometidos a proporcionar apoyo y servicios a todos los estudiantes, particularmente a los estudiantes con discapacidades.
  • Si usted o un miembro de su familia no pueden trabajar debido a factores relacionados con el coronavirus, puede ser elegible para un seguro de desempleo inmediato, licencia por enfermedad remunerada, discapacidad a corto plazo o una acomodación razonable para trabajar desde casa.
  • Si usted o un miembro de su familia no pueden trabajar debido a factores relacionados con el coronavirus, puede ser elegible para un seguro de desempleo inmediato, asistencia de desempleo pandémico, varias formas de licencia pagada, compensación laboral, incapacidad a corto plazo o una acomodación razonable trabajando desde casa. También tiene derecho a trabajar en condiciones seguras y tiene protección contra la discriminación.
  • Si desea obtener más información sobre los derechos educativos de su hijo en este momento incierto, o para qué beneficios laborales puede ser elegible si su trabajo se ha visto afectado por el coronavirus, contáctenos en education@bds.org, empleo@bds.org, o llámenos al 929–314-0962.
  • Oficina de la comunidad:
  • Nuestra oficina comunitaria está cerrada actualmente, pero estamos trabajando de forma remota y estamos disponibles para ayudar.
  • Si tiene problemas o preguntas sobre ACS, educación, vivienda, empleo, beneficios, asuntos penales o asuntos legales generales, llame al 646-971-2722 o envíenos un correo electrónico a communityoffice@bds.org.

 

 

Para todas las consultas de prensa y medios, envíe un correo electrónico a Daniel Ball a dball@bds.org.

 

 

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 nearly 35,000 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

  • Policy & Advocacy

  • Community Office

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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

PRO BONO AT BDS

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 Molly Meltzer, Director of Pro Bono 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 former New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman. Please visit the NY Courts website to register for the program and contact us at pbvolunteer@bds.org.

Individual Volunteers are incorporated into our practices on an as-needed basis. Please send a resume and cover letter indicating particular skills you have that are applicable to our work and your specific availability to pbvolunteer@bds.org.

HISTORY


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.

 

PARTNERS AND SUPPORTERS


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

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

Camelot

Caribbean American Center of New York

CASES

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

Esperanza

EXALT

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

NAMI- NY

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

P2PH

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

STEPS

TASC, EAC-Link

YCP

Young New Yorkers

INFORMATION

NEED HELP?

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

If you or a loved one are arrested in Brooklyn during the protests and need a lawyer, call this number for legal assistance 240-531-1971.

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

In fear of having your children removed? Call (646) 974-9343.

BDS COMMUNITY OFFICE IN EAST NEW YORK

Visit our Community Office in East New York, located at:
566 Livonia Ave. (Between Alabama & Georgia Avenues)
Brooklyn, NY 11207
(646) 971-2722

We accept walk-in consultations on a variety of legal issues including ACS/child welfare, housing, and criminal matters. The office also offers regular Know Your Rights workshops open to community members. Past training topics included education rights, seeking employment with a criminal record, and what to do when ACS knocks on your door.

Current BDS clients, if you need to connect with your attorney or social worker, it is possible to arrange meetings to be held at the community office.

The office also has a variety of informational material and community resources, including know your rights fact sheets, community events, and voter registration forms.

For more information, call (646) 971-2722.

OPPORTUNITIES

MITIGATION SOCIAL WORKER

BDS is currently seeking an experienced social worker to become an integral part of the Homicide/Major Felony unit of the Criminal Defense Practice. The Mitigation Social Worker will be responsible for gathering documentation relevant to the defense or mitigation of the client’s case including education, employment, medical, psychological, military, prison and other information. 

 

See idealist.org for full job posting.

NEW YORK STATE PUBLIC DEFENDERS CAREER FAIR

In April 2017, New York State enacted statewide reforms intended to improve the right to counsel for people charged with a criminal offense, who cannot afford to hire an attorney.

Amendments to New York County Law § 722-e and the addition of Executive Law § 832 (4) enacted by New York State Governor Cuomo and supported by the NYS legislature encourages and enables each criminal defense provider of legally mandated representation to furnish high quality, effective representation for every client. These recent legislative reforms offer public defense providers across the state the opportunity to hire additional attorneys, investigators, social workers and support staff and develop other resources to further their efforts in improving the overall quality of mandated representation.

Persons eager to explore opportunities within the New York State public defense arena who seek a challenging work environment that promotes diversity, embraces change, and provides leadership opportunities are encouraged to participate in this Public Defenders Career Fair.

See here for more information.

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

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 eight 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. At this time we are no longer accepting applications for the Criminal Defense Practice Summer 2020 internship. At this time we are no longer accepting applications for the Family Defense internship. At this time we are no longer accepting applications for the Civil Justice Practice Internship.

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 a commitment to social and criminal justice issues for our Investigative Assistant Internship. Investigative assistants locate, review, and download video surveillance; photograph and document crime scenes; and conduct background research on witnesses. They additionally provide administrative assistance to the investigations unit.

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.

Required qualifications and abilities:
– Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
– Interest in criminal defense and the rights of the accused
– 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.

The internship has a rolling admission deadline, and start and end dates can accommodate academic schedules.

To apply, submit a resume and cover letter to Timothy McErlean at tmcerlean@bds.org with the subject “Investigative Assistant Application.” Please specify which cycle you are applying to work for and if you would like to work full or part time (e.g., Spring 2020, full time). Resumes and cover letters will only be accepted by email; if selected for an interview applicants will be notified on a rolling basis.

 

 

POLICY

LEGISLATIVE MEMOS & ONE-PAGERS

Criminal Law Reform Issues

Adolescent Justice

  • BDS Supports Raising the Age of Youthful Offender Status, A.4743B (PDF ) – June 1, 2018
  • Check out our one-pager on Raising the Age of YO here.

Bail 

  • BDS supports the Assembly Bail Reform proposal, A.10137A (PDF ) – May 29, 2018
  • BDS Supports Comprehensive Bail Reform, A9955 & S3579A/A5033A (PDF )- April 16, 2018
  • BDS Supports Reform of Laws Governing Charitable Bail Organizations, A4880A/S4776A (PDF ) – February 9, 2017

Discovery

  • BDS Supports Comprehensive Discovery Reform, A4360A, S7722/A10135, & S6848/A7292 (PDF )- April 16, 2018
  • Check out the Repeal the #BlindfoldLaw Coalition one-pager on the urgent need for discovery reform here.

Drug Enforcement

  • BDS Strongly Opposes Increased Penalties for Opioids & K2 (PDF ) – March 26, 2018

Employment Collateral Consequences

  • BDS Responds and Proposes Amendments to Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Elimination of Parole Fee and Changes to Conviction-Related Barrier to Employment and Participation in Education Councils in the FY19 Executive Budget (PDF ) – February 5, 2018

Gravity Knives

  • BDS Memo of Support for Repealing Gravity Knife Law (PDF ) – May 22, 2019
  • BDS Sends Letter to Governor Cuomo Urging His Signature on Gravity Knife Reform Legislation (PDF ) – October 11, 2017
  • BDS Sends Letter to Governor Cuomo Urging His Signature on Gravity Knife Reform Legislation (PDF ) – June 28, 2016
  • Check out our infographic on gravity knives, “Why Are Carpenters Being arrested for Carrying Their Tools?”  here.
  • BDS Memos in Support of Bills to Decriminalize Possession of Common Workers’ Utility Knives, (A4821/S3675 PDF) (A9042/S6483 PDF ) – March 1, 2016
  • Memo of Support to End the Criminalization of So-Called “Gravity Knives” S3675/A.4821 (PDF ) – April 23, 2015

Immigrants Rights

  • BDS Memo in Support of the Protect Our Courts Act, A11013A/S8925 (PDF ) – June 14, 2018

Jail and Prison Conditions

  • BDS Supports Access to Feminine Hygiene Products in NYS Jails and Prisons, S6176/A588A (PDF ) – June 14, 2017

Police Asset Forfeiture

  • BDS Response to Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Changes to Asset Forfeiture in the FY19 Executive Budget (PDF ) – February 5, 2018

Prostitution and Trafficking

  • BDS Memo in Support for Expanding New York’s Vacatur Law for Survivors of Trafficking, S4997/A4540 (PDF ) – June 1, 2018
  • BDS Memo in Support for Repeal of New York’s Penal Law 240.37, S8107A/A9704A (PDF ) – June 1, 2018

Sealing

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

Solitary Confinement 

  • BDS Expresses Strong Support for the Humane Alternatives to Long Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act, A3080B/S4784A (PDF ) – March 8, 2018
  • BDS Memo in Support of Restricting Segregated Confinement for Juveniles and Special Populations, A1346A & A1347 (PDF ) – April 3, 2015

Speedy Trial

  • BDS Memo in Support of Speedy Trial Reform – Kalief’s Law, S7006B & A3055A (PDF )- April 16, 2018
  • BDS Releases Statement in Support of Kalief’s Law, S5988A/A8296A (PDF ) – March 1, 2016
  • BDS Expresses Strong Support for Kalief’s Law, S5988/A7841 (PDF ) – August 18, 2015

 

Child Welfare Law Reform Issues

Adoption Subsidies

  • BDS Supports Amendments to Monthly Adoption Subsidies to Foster Parents, S6518/A8313 (PDF ) – May 30, 2017

Family Court ACDs

  • BDS Joins in Memo in Support of Expanding Option of Adjournments in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) & Suspended Judgments in Child Protective Proceedings in the Family Court, S.4767/A6837 (PDF ) – April 16, 2018
  • BDS Joins in Memo in Support of Expanding Option of Adjournments in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) & Suspended Judgments in Child Protective Proceedings in the Family Court, S.4767/A6837 (PDF ) – May 8, 2017

Kinship Care

  • BDS Joins in Memo in Support of Kinship Guardianship Assistance Legislation, S4833/A7554 (PDF ) – May 30, 2017

Post-Termination Contact

  • BDS Memo in Support of the Preserving Family Bonds Act, S4203/A2199 (PDF ) – April 2019
  • Preserving Family Bonds Coalition Joint Memo in Support (PDF) – April 2019

LETTERS AND TESTIMONY

May 19, 2020

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committees on Criminal Justice & the Justice System Oversight Hearing on COVID-19 in City Jails and Juvenile Detention Centers.

February 28, 2020

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committees on Immigration and Hospitals Oversight Hearing ICE’s Escalated Attacks on NYC Policies Protecting Immigrants. 

February 25, 2020

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committee on Public Safety Jointly with the Committee on Justice System Oversight Hearing DNA Collection and Storage in NYC. (PDF)

February 24, 2020

BDS Testifies before NYC Council Committee on Justice System and Committee on Housing and Buildings Oversight Meeting and Introduction of Bills Int 1104-2018 and Int 1529-2019. (PDF)

February 10, 2020

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committee on Public Safety on Preventing Hate and Violence (PDF)

February 3, 2020

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committee on Criminal Justice Oversight Hearing on Violence in City Jails (PDF)

January 21, 2020

BDS submits Public Comment on DHS and DOJ Proposed Rule Re: Procedures for Asylum and Bars to Asylum Eligibility

January 13, 2020

BDS submits Public Comment on DHS Proposed Rule Re: Asylum Applications, Interview, and Employment Authorization for Applicants

December 30, 2019

BDS submits Public Comment on USCIS Proposed Rule of the USCIS Fee Schedule

December 18, 2019 

BDS testifies before the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety Hearing on the POST Act (PDF)

December 10, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYS Assembly Committee on Codes and Committee on Correction Hearing on Sealing of Criminal Records and Expansion of Youthful Offender Status (PDF)

November 21, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYS Assembly on family separation in the child welfare system and family court system

November 15, 2019

BDS submits Public Comment on USCIS Proposed Rules on Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions, 84 FR 55250.

November 14, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYS Assembly on pre-trial services and ATI’s in light of the new bail statute (PDF)

November 12, 2019

BDS submits Public Comment on DNA-Sample Collection for Immigration Detainees 84 Fed. Reg 563973.

October 17, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYS Senate Standing Committee on Codes Hearing on Potential Legislative Changes to Section 50-a of the Civil Rights Law (PDF)

September 23, 2019

BDS submits Public Comment on Department of Homeland Security “Notice on Designating Aliens for Expedited Removal 84 Fed. Reg. 35409.

September 3, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Immigration (PDF)

August 9, 2019

BDS testifies before the Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids Addiction and Overdose (PDF)

June 27, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Public Safety Hearing on Ints. 0567-2018, 0635-2018, 1244-2018, 1553-2019, 1548-2019, & T2018-2223, & Res. 0866-2019. (PDF)

May 22, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYC Council on Implementation of Pre-Trial Justice Reforms Enacted by New York State (PDF)

May 1, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Criminal Justice Oversight Hearing on the Experience of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals in NYC Jails (PDF)

April 29, 2019

BDS joins the Bronx Defenders, the Legal Aid Society, Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem and NY County Defender Services in urging enactment of a slate of criminal justice reforms before session ends (PDF)

April 10, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committees on Immigration and the Justice System Oversight Hearing on ICE Out of New York Courts Resolution 0828-2019 regarding Protect Our Courts Act (A.2176 / S.425). (PDF)

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committee on General Welfare and Committee on Hospitals Joint Oversight Hearing on the Impact of Marijuana Policies on Child Welfare. (PDF)

February 27, 2019

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committees on Public Safety, Justice System, Consumer Affairs & Business Licensing, and Civil & Human Rights Public Hearing on Marijuana Legalization. (PDF)

February 26, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Criminal Justice Oversight Hearing on Department of Correction Programming. (PDF)

February 25, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYC Council on Family Separation in Criminal Cases (PDF)

February 4, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on General Welfare Oversight Hearing on Client Experience at HRA Centers. (PDF)

January 16, 2019

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Juvenile Justice Hearing on Evaluating Programs that Aim to Reduce Recidivism Among Justice-Involved Youth. (PDF)

December 19, 2018

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Immigration Oversight Hearing on the Need for Legal Representation in Immigration Court Under Trump. (PDF)

December 3, 2018

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committees on Criminal Justice and the Justice System Oversight Hearing: “Why Does the City Make it so Hard to Post Bail?” (PDF)

November 27, 2018

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committees on Justice System and General Welfare Oversight Hearing on Removals from Parents and Caretakers In Child Welfare Cases. (PDF)

BDS testifies before New York Senators Luis Sepúlveda and Gustavo Rivera’s Public Forum on New York State’s Parole Process, Structure of the Parole Board, and Data Indicating Systemic Bias in Parole Decisions. (PDF)

November 14, 2018

BDS testifies before NYC Committee on Hospitals, Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction and Committee on Criminal Justice Oversight Hearing on Correctional Health (PDF)

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committees on Immigration, Health & General Welfare on the impact of the proposed “public charge” rule in NYC (PDF)

November 14, 2018

BDS submits testimony to the NYS Assembly in support of guaranteed access to Medication-Assisted Treatment in New York’s prisons and jails (PDF)

October 25, 2018

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Governmental Operations and Committee on Immigration Oversight Hearing on Language Access Implementation Plans. (PDF)

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Justice System Oversight Hearing on Pay Hearing and Retention Rates for ADAs and Public Defenders (PDF)

October 16, 2018

BDS testifies before the New York State Assembly on legalizing the adult use of marijuana (PDF)

Shakira Kennedy, an advocate and parent who is represented by BDS’ Family Defense Practice, testifies before the New York State Assembly on the harms of cannabis prohibition on New York’s racially and economically marginalized families (PDF)

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Education on employment and school transportation (PDF)

October 3, 2018

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committees on Governmental Operations and Criminal Justice on voting rights for people on parole (PDF)

September 27, 2018

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on the Justice System Oversight Hearing on the Cost of Justice (PDF)

BDS testifies before the New York State Commission on Parental Legal Representation (See PDF for attachments)

September 17, 2018

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Immigration and the Committee on Youth Services Oversight Hearing on LGBTQ immigrant youth in NYC (PDF)

September 6, 2018

BDS testifies before the New York City Council Committees Immigration and Youth Services Oversight Hearing on Abolishing ICE (PDF)

BDS testifies before the New York City Council Committees on Criminal Justice and Women Oversight Hearing Examining Sexual Abuse and Harassment in City Jails (PDF)

July 12, 2018

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Oversight Hearing on the impacts of the Trump Administration Family Separation Policy in NYC (PDF)

June 21, 2018

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committee on the Justice System Oversight Hearing on Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Criminal Court (PDF)

June 13, 2018

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committee on Public Safety Oversight Hearing on NYPD’s Gang Takedown Effects (PDF)

June 13, 2018

BDS Submits Comments to the NYS Dept. of Financial Services & NYS Dept. of State Listening Session on Abuses by the Bail Bond Industry (PDF)

May 2, 2018 

BDS testifies before the NYC Council on the harm of the commercial bail bond industry (PDF)

April 24, 2018

BDS submits written testimony to the  NYC Council Committee on Immigration Oversight Hearing on NYC Support for Immigrant Parents of Children Ages 0-5 Years (PDF)

April 23, 2018

BDS testifies before NYC Council Committee on Criminal Justice Oversight Hearing on Safety and Security in City Jails (PDF)

April 18, 2018

BDS testifies before the New York City Council Committee on Juvenile Justice and the Committee on Justice System Oversight Hearing on  NYC’s Preparedness to Raise the Age and Reso. 0283-2018 (PDF)

March 26, 2018

BDS testifies before the New York City Council Budget Hearing on Immigration (PDF)

February 27, 2018

BDS testifies before the New York City Council Committee on Justice System on Issues with Criminal Discovery Practices (PDF )

February 26, 2018

BDS testifies before the New York City Council in Support of Marijuana Legalization and, in the Interim, Immediately Ending Marijuana Arrests and Prosecutions (PDF  )

January 11, 2018

BDS testifies before the New York State Assembly Hearing on Legalizing & Regulating Adult Sale and Possession of Marijuana and its Prospective Effects on Public Health and the Criminal Legal System (PDF  )

December 14, 2017

BDS testifies before NYC Oversight Hearing on Examining Forensic Science Practices in the NYPD Crime Lab and OCME (PDF )

December 4, 2017

BDS testifies before NYC Council Oversight Hearing on Progress in Closing Rikers (PDF )

November 28, 2017

BDS comments: Proposed state regulations on solitary confinement in local jails only codify the practice of torture (PDF )

November 21, 2017

BDS testifies before the NYC Council on NYPD’s role in school safety and efforts to improve school climate (PDF )

November 16, 2017

BDS, along with 100 community and advocacy groups across NYS, submit letter to Governor Cuomo with recommendations for changes to New York’s pretrial detention system

November 15, 2017

BDS testifies before the NYC Council’s Oversight Hearing on the Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD (PDF )

October 30, 2017

BDS testifies before the NYS Assembly Hearing on Healthcare in NYS Prisons and Local Jails (PDF )

October 26, 2017

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Juvenile Justice Hearing on Reentry Programs for Formerly Incarcerated Youth (PDF )

October 25, 2017

BDS testifies before the NYC Council oversight hearing on violence in city jails (PDF )

October 23, 2017

Do You Qualify to Have Your Criminal Record Sealed? A BDS One-Pager. (PDF )

October 16, 2017

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Public Safety (PDF )

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Technology on Algorithm Transparency (PDF )

September 27, 2017

BDS testifies before NYC Council Oversight Hearing on Safe and Accessible Shelters for Homeless Youth (PDF )

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 )

More

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

VIRTUAL WORKSHOP: PARENTS’ RIGHTS WHEN ACS KNOCKS ON YOUR DOOR

Join Brooklyn Defender Services’ Family Defense Practice for a live virtual workshop on Parents’ Rights When Dealing with ACS.

June 30th at 3:00 PM on Zoom and Brooklyn Defender Services’ Facebook Live.

Topics will include:
What is ACS?
How does a case get called in?
What are mandated reporters?
What to do when ACS comes to your door?
What is a case conference?
What happens if you have an “indicated case” and land on the State Central Register?

Our family defenders, social workers, and paralegals will answer these questions and more from our viewers.

Register here. 

News

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES ON THE SUPREME COURT’S DACA DECISION 

June 18, 2020

 

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

 

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES ON THE SUPREME COURT’S DACA DECISION 

 

(BROOKLYN, NY) – Brooklyn Defender Services, a public defender office that provides immigration legal services to thousands of people each year, including many who are eligible for or have already obtained DACA status, released this statement following the Supreme Court’s ruling on DACA:

Today’s decision is a victory for DACA recipients and their families who now have the assurance they will not lose this crucial status. This ruling  allows those who have been granted DACA status  to continue to work and go to school and to stay in the country in which they have lived since childhood without fear of deportation. We applaud the many DREAMers who organized, spoke out and made themselves known, putting themselves at personal risk of  deportation, to lead the way to create and protect this program. 

As Chief Justice John Roberts recognized in his decision for the Court, the Trump Administration’s attack on DACA was capricious and arbitrary and failed to recognize the interests of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients.  The Trump Administration must now restore the DACA program. Brooklyn Defender Services stands ready to assist eligible DREAMers in obtaining and renewing status, fighting deportation, and finding pathways to stable, permanent, and protected legal status.

We cannot stop here. We urge Congress to enact immigration laws to make DACA a permanent program to obtain lawful status. In doing so, we also urge that Congress create a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, TPS recipients and other currently undocumented immigrants who came to this country looking for opportunity, safety and to be with their loved ones. 

We, as a society, must be steadfast in our commitment to DREAMers and all immigrants, whether currently documented or not. The current racist, unjust, and unfair immigration system must be radically transformed. As people across the country rise up for Black lives and against structural racism, we must use the energy from this moment to continue to fight against all oppressive systems that threaten people’s most basic rights.” 

Background:

Brooklyn Defender Services signed on to an amicus brief in support of the respondents in this case, available here.

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Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) is a non-profit public defense office in Brooklyn, New York. BDS provides multi-disciplinary and client-centered criminal defense, family defense, immigration and other civil legal services, and social work support to over 30,000 indigent Brooklyn residents every year.

 

News

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES STATEMENT ON FEDERAL JUDGE RULING ICE COURTHOUSE ARRESTS ILLEGAL

June 10, 2020

 

Contact: Daniel Ball, dball@bds.org

 

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES STATEMENT ON FEDERAL JUDGE RULING ICE COURTHOUSE ARRESTS ILLEGAL

(BROOKLYN, NY) – Nyasa Hickey, Director of Immigration Initiatives at Brooklyn Defender Services released the following statement following Federal Judge Jed Rakoff’s order barring ICE from arresting people on their way to or in New York State courthouses as a violation of law:

“Judge Rakoff’s ruling means ICE will no longer be able to stalk, terrorize, and arrest immigrants in New York State courthouses or as they travel to or from court appearances. This illegal practice has long jeopardized safety and had a chilling effect on immigrants’ ability to access the court, including to defend themselves. Now, all immigrants in New York should be able to access the courts without fear of being arrested and detained by ICE as they assert their legal rights. We urge the legislature to pass the Protect Our Courts Act to ensure that the rights recognized by Judge Rakoff are codified in New York State.”

News

JOINT NYC DEFENDER STATEMENT ON  EFFORTS TO CIRCUMVENT LAW AND DETAIN PROTESTORS 

June 4, 2020

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***  

Joint NYC Defender Statement On  Efforts to Circumvent Law and Detain Protestors 

Daniel Ball, Brooklyn Defender Services, dball@bds.org

Ryan Karerat, The Bronx Defenders, RKarerat@bronxdefenders.org

Redmond Haskins, The Legal Aid Society, RHaskins@legal-aid.org

Sam McCann, The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, SMccann@ndsny.org

Hettie Powell, Queens Defenders, hpowell@queensdefenders.org

Lupe Todd-Medina, New York County Defender Services, LToddmedina@nycds.org

(NEW YORK, NY) – Brooklyn Defender Services, The Bronx Defenders, The Legal Aid Society, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, Queens Defenders, and New York County Defender Services issued the following statement on Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s attempt to detain New Yorkers fighting for justice on bail.

“Last night, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance called for an Executive Order altering the bail statute to permit the detention of people protesting and mourning the death of George Floyd and other Black people and brown people killed by the police. We are appalled DA Vance would use this opportunity to suppress New Yorkers’ constitutional rights by detaining protestors on unaffordable money bail instead of standing with Black people. At a moment in which Black people and their allies are rightfully protesting state sanctioned racial violence while simultaneously bearing the brunt of a global pandemic – a crisis that makes brutal and dangerous city jails even more deadly – DA Vance offers incarceration as the solution.

Cy Vance’s ask that Governor Cuomo issue an executive order allowing judges to hold protestors is outrageous. Already, there is a backlog of hundreds of New Yorkers who are being illegally held because the NYPD refuses to issue Desk Appearance Tickets in lieu of arrests or complete the paperwork necessary to arraign them, despite the fact that the state requires a court appearance within 24 hours of arrest. Vance’s proposal would increase incarceration at a time when prisons and jails account for eight of the 10 largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the country and when the City’s own correctional health experts are calling for decarceration.

It is also a naked attempt to lock up more Black and brown people at a moment in which New Yorkers are demanding justice for communities of color.

Governor Cuomo’s response instructs District Attorneys to trump up charges and inflate allegations against New Yorkers in order to jail them.  This blatant disregard for truth in prosecution is aberrant to the demand for a fair justice system that protesters are now demanding. We demand that Governor Cuomo reject this dangerous plea, and urge concerned New Yorkers to call his office at 518-474-8390.”

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News

JOINT NYC DEFENDER STATEMENT ON NYPD BRUTALITY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 1, 2020

CONTACTS:

Jared Chausow, Brooklyn Defender Services, JChausow@bds.org
Ryan Karerat, The Bronx Defenders, RKarerat@bronxdefenders.org
Redmond Haskins, The Legal Aid Society, RHaskins@legal-aid.org
Sam McCann, The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, SMccann@ndsny.org
Hettie Powell, Queens Defenders, hpowell@queensdefenders.org
Lupe Todd-Medina, New York County Defender Services, LToddmedina@nycds.org

Joint NYC Defender Statement On NYPD Brutality

(NEW YORK, NY) – Brooklyn Defender ServicesThe Bronx DefendersThe Legal Aid SocietyNeighborhood Defender Service of HarlemQueens Defenders, and New York County Defender Services issued the following statement on New York City Police Department (NYPD) brutality:

“White supremacy, structural racism, and state violence are deeply embedded into the fabric of this nation. The protests in NYC and across the country were not triggered by a few isolated incidents of police brutality; but rather are rooted in the deep-seated racism and perpetuation of inequity that this country has continuously shown to Black, brown, and Indigenous people.

We mourn with the families of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery. Their lives were snuffed out because of this country’s refusal to face our history and disrupt our legacy of anti-Black racism. New York City bears responsibility as well. Although we hold ourselves up as a progressive bastion, our city is home to some of the largest and most under-resourced communities of color in the country.  New Yorkers who consider themselves “liberal” wrap themselves in white immunity while perpetuating entrenched stereotypes and harm.  Amy Cooper instinctively weaponized her privilege  against Christian Cooper because she knew that if she combined and repeated the words “African-American man” and “threat,” the police would not only come but they would immediately accept her word over any evidence to the contrary.

As New York City’s public defenders, we work for and represent those who are the targets and victims of police intimidation, threat, and violence.  Thousands of people each year, the vast majority of whom are Black and Latinx, are funneled into the criminal legal system because of the deep-seated structural racism that we are collectively witnessing here in NYC. The disturbing videos and reports of the violent attacks by NYPD on protestors and the media, while traumatizing to watch, are all too familiar to us. They mirror the stories we hear every day of police acting with impunity, targeting, attacking, beating, lying, abusing, and disrespecting Black and brown people in the communities we serve in all five boroughs.

The people we represent live under a constant threat of surveillance, harassment, violence, and incarceration simply because of the color of their skin. They live their lives knowing they will never be given the benefit of the doubt. They will never be presumed innocent.

Despite campaigning on a message about racial justice, Mayor de Blasio has done nothing to address the many layers of systemic racism in our city.  Instead, he has reduced the budgets for much-needed health, mental health, housing and educational resources in the communities that need them the most, while growing the NYPD’s bloated budget, adding more officers every year, and adding a level of militarization that has empowered the worst and most frightening version of police force.

And now, despite daily acts of violence and excessive use of force against protesters, de Blasio commends the NYPD’s actions, further emboldening officers already acculturated to see Black people as the cause of every “problem” and dehumanizing the very individuals they are sworn to serve.

We demand accountability and radical change. We demand that the City Council and Mayor de Blasio significantly reduce the size and budget of the NYPD. We demand that candidates for elected office decline contributions from law enforcement PACs and unions, and return the thousands of dollars they have accepted over the years. We demand that our government at every level acknowledge the first amendment rights of the protesters and denounce the NYPD’s violent response to such constitutionally-protected political protest. We demand police transparency and a repeal of 50a, the law that keeps police records a secret and allows officers to violate the civil rights of individuals over and over again with impunity. We demand investment in the communities most impacted by over-policing and police violence. And we demand that those harmed by centuries of oppression be allowed to decide for themselves how to deploy those resources to heal, provide, and thrive.

As the police continue to harass and attack peaceful protesters exercising their constitutional rights, we stand ready to zealously defend them. We stand in solidarity with the protestors taking to the streets, the bail funds working to get people released from jail, and everyone else who has responded to this moment by letting their leaders know that enough is enough.”

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News

ANNOUNCING THE MOVE OF ZEALOUS FROM BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES TO THE JUSTICE COLLABORATIVE

The Justice Collaborative (TJC) and Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) are excited to announce that Zealous, a project incubated at BDS to support public defenders in leveraging their perspective and expertise for systemic advocacy, will be transitioning to The Justice Collaborative as a key pillar of TJC’s national reform work. Scott Hechinger and Crystal Maloney will continue to lead this defender initiative at TJC.

Hechinger will be Senior Advisor at TJC and Director of Zealous. He was formerly Senior Staff Attorney and Director of Policy at BDS. Maloney will be Advisor on New Media at TJC and Chief of Innovation & Strategy for Zealous. An attorney, she was formerly Coordinator of Media Advocacy at BDS.

As COVID-19 sweeps through communities, courtrooms, jails, and prisons, the need for bold defender advocacy coordinated on a national scale is needed now more than ever. TJC supports people and organizations working to end mass criminalization and build in its place a society with dignity and freedom for all. Across the country, public defenders have stepped up as both courageous first responders in the courtroom and also as powerful advocates outside of court calling for the immediate reshaping of the criminal legal system to promote health and justice.

In September 2019, Zealous held its first national convening: A media and movement building event in Brooklyn for 52 defenders, representing 42 different public defense offices, in 27 different states. See Recap Video. The immersive training was led by a range of expert facilitators from a wide variety of fields.

Out of the training, Zealous launched a national, coordinated community of bold, strategic, and trained public defender advocates, prepared to advocate outside of court, forge and strengthen critical alliances, and initiate high impact campaigns. Zealous will now be able to grow its capacity and by extension, the advocacy impact of potentially thousands of public defenders across the country at this critical time.

Public defenders and defender offices ​are a reservoir of expertise and energy to attack, dismantle, and improve the systems that deprive access to justice to people hauled into legal systems across the United States. In its new home with The Justice Collaborative, Zealous will be positioned to be a resource to those defenders and continue the good work that began at the first training.

For more information, contact: media@thejusticecollaborative.com

News

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES WINS RELEASE OF 11 IMMIGRANTS FROM ICE DETENTION, INCLUDING MAN WHOSE AUDIO RECORDING REVEALED ACCOUNT OF HUNGER STRIKE FROM INSIDE HUDSON COUNTY JAIL

April 3, 2020

CONTACT: Daniel Ball, 203-213-9303 dball@bds.org

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES WINS RELEASE OF ELEVEN IMMIGRANTS FROM ICE DETENTION; RENEWS CALL FOR RELEASE OF ALL DETAINED AMID COVID CRISIS

Releases Include Ronal Umaña Whose Audio Recording Revealed Account of Hunger Strike and Conditions from Inside Hudson County Correctional Facility

(NEW YORK, NY) – This week, Brooklyn Defender Services won the release of eleven immigrants from ICE detention, after securing the release of ten immigrants on March 26 in the landmark Basank v. Decker ruling, finding that ICE has shown deliberate indifference to the medical needs of detained immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 16, through habeas corpus litigation in federal court, bond hearings, winning removal hearings on their merits, and administrative release requests, BDS attorneys have won the release of 34 immigrants, many of whom had medical conditions that placed them at serious risk if exposed to COVID-19.

Among those released this week was Mr. Ronal Umaña, a 30 year old immigrant from El Salvador, who was detained at Hudson County Correctional Facility. Mr. Umaña was one of the first detained immigrants to speak publicly about the conditions he endured amid the COVID-19 crisis via audio recording last week.

Ronal Umaña said: “I feel free. I have my liberty, and I’m not suffering anymore. Especially as I was during the quarantine and I’m very grateful to my lawyers for that. I feel free and happy to be with my family after all the fear and threats that we faced at Hudson, where the officers even pointed tear gas guns at us.”

Andrea Saenz, Attorney-in-Charge, New York Immigrant Family Unity Project at Brooklyn Defender Services, said: “As conditions in ICE detention worsen and more people we represent and other detained immigrants begin suffering from COVID-19 symptoms, the situation becomes more and more dire. For weeks, we have called for immediate release of immigrants detained by ICE and a halting of ICE enforcement. With ICE ignoring most of our requests for release, our staff have filed over twenty federal court petitions or requests for emergency relief, and plan to keep doing so. As this crisis unfolds, we cannot and we will not stop until ICE frees them all.”

Gabriela Domenzain, Senior Advisor, Brooklyn Defender Services, said: “While we are thrilled that eleven more families are together and safe today, it’s not enough. ICE is choosing to place immigrants directly in the path of this deadly virus with utter disregard for their humanity. In New York City, where all detained immigrants have access to counsel, our lawyers have gone through extraordinary measures to secure the release of our clients. But the majority of immigrants don’t have lawyers and are rendered powerless to ICE’s inhumanity. ICE must prevent further contagion and death and free them all.”

 

Ronal Umaña holds his niece, who was born while he was in detention

News

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES WINS IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF TEN IMMIGRANTS IN ICE DETENTION, AMID COVID-19 CRISIS

March 27, 2020

CONTACT: Daniel Ball, 203-213-9303 dball@bds.org 

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES WINS IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF TEN IMMIGRANTS IN ICE DETENTION, AMID COVID-19 CRISIS

Federal Judge in Southern District of New York Finds Detention Under Unsafe Conditions was Unconstitutional; Holds ICE Accountable for Failure to Consider Release for People Most at Risk.

(NEW YORK, NY) – Last night, Judge Analisa Torres ordered the immediate release of ten immigrants detained by ICE in Hudson, Bergen, and Essex County Correctional Facilities, after Brooklyn Defender Services filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Southern District of New York, seeking their release from ICE custody because of ICE’s inability to protect them during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The order finds that ICE has been and continues to be deliberately indifferent to serious medical needs and ignores the threat caused by COVID-19 “that will likely cause imminent, life-threatening illness.”

Andrea Saenz, Attorney-in-Charge, New York Immigrant Family Unity Project at Brooklyn Defender Services, issued the following statement:

“This is the first federal court in the nation to find that ICE is showing deliberate indifference to the safety of detained people who have medical conditions putting them at high risk if they contract COVID-19 – so much that their detention is likely unconstitutional and they must be immediately released. We felt like we had no time to lose, with ICE ignoring our requests for release, and brought as many clients as we could to the attention of the federal court as fast as we could, asking them to hold ICE accountable. This was a huge victory, but we’re going to keep fighting to free them all.”

Brooke Menschel, Civil Rights Counsel at Brooklyn Defender Services, issued the following statement: 

“By keeping people detained, despite the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus and specific vulnerabilities, the government is putting people’s lives at stake by acting with blatant disregard for their health and well-being. Judge Torres agreed: ‘Respondents have exhibited, and continue to exhibit, deliberate indifference to Petitioners’ medical needs.’ This decision is an important reminder that the government cannot completely disregard people’s humanity and ignore imminent threats without violating the U.S. Constitution.”

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Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) is a non-profit public defense office in Brooklyn, New York. BDS provides multi-disciplinary and client-centered criminal defense, family defense, immigration and other civil legal services, and social work support to over 30,000 indigent Brooklyn residents every year.

 

News

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES STATEMENT ON GROWING OUTBREAK OF COVID-19 AT RIKERS ISLAND

March 26, 2020

 

CONTACT: Daniel Ball, dball@bds.org

 

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

 

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES STATEMENT ON GROWING OUTBREAK OF COVID-19 AT RIKERS ISLAND

BDS Renews Call to Release Incarcerated People and Halt New Admissions to NYC Jails; Condemns Dangerous Jail Conditions

(BROOKLYN, NY) – Lisa Schreibersdorf, Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services, released the following statement in response to reports that 75 incarcerated people and 45 NYC jails staff members tested positive for COVID-19 and numerous accounts from our clients of disturbing and dangerous conditions inside of the jails:

“For weeks, we have joined defenders, advocates, incarcerated people, medical professionals, and elected officials to warn of the grave risks that an outbreak of COVID-19 in jails and prisons poses to incarcerated people, staff, and all New Yorkers. As the virus spreads like wildfire through Rikers Island, we worry that every hour that passes brings us closer to disaster and death, whether inside the facilities or shortly after release. Given the extremely high infection rate in jails to date, we fear that no one in the jails — whether incarcerated people or staff — is safe. Too few have been released thus far and too slowly. Elected officials at every level of government must take immediate action to initiate mass release and halt new admissions before it is too late.” 

Brooklyn Defender Services’ clients incarcerated at the jail facilities at Rikers Island have reported many concerns about the lack of medical attention, lack of hygiene products, isolation, squalid living conditions, and other disturbing reports of mistreatment, including:

  • Overflowing sewage running through a housing unit, which continued to house people before, during, and after the incident. In addition to the general inhabitability of these conditions, COVID-19 is believed to spread through fecal matter;
  • Squalid conditions, including units that have not been sanitized, and staff who refuse to clean out of concern for their own exposure to COVID-19;
  • Being turned away from the medical unit due to lack of available appointments;
  • Requests for  medical attention (also known as “sick calls”) for people who cannot leave their cells going unanswered for as long as two weeks;
  • Symptomatic people not being tested for COVID-19 or having their temperature checked;
  • Housing sick people who have not been confirmed to have COVID-19, as well as with people who are considered “high risk” due to underlying health issues, in close proximity to people with confirmed cases in newly reopened housing units;
  • Placing sick people in solitary confinement in lieu of medical treatment for the duration of their symptoms;
  • No precautions taken for people who were regularly in contact with a guard who is believed to have COVID-19 –even while people in that unit are now symptomatic;
  • Phones are not being sanitized between use, and people who request supplies to sanitize the phones themselves are being told that none are available;
  • People exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms may be provided one single-use face mask by medical staff before being sent back to their housing units without being tested, only to have those masks confiscated by guards upon their return to their units;
  • Sick people preparing food for general consumption;
  • No masks provided to people preparing food and food being served on dirty trays;
  • Soap is unavailable, both because it is not being provided or replaced in the communal bathrooms and because it is sold out at commissary;
  • Sleeping in communal dorms of roughly 50 people less than two feet apart from one another
  • Guards who are coughing at work and failing to take precautions to protect the people they have contact with;
  • And a general panic, among both incarcerated people and staff, as this dangerous situation quickly escalates.

Incarceration is devastating to personal and public health under normal circumstances, and inadequate access to medical care has long been and continues to be a concern for incarcerated people. This pandemic raises the stakes, as jails are uniquely poor environments for stopping or containing viral outbreaks. Jail medical personnel have made this clear: the only way to truly protect people is to release them.

Recommendations

  1. Mayor de Blasio’s proposed release of some people serving sentences of under one year from Rikers Island is helpful, but there are hundreds more who are not being released at this time who also deserve to stay healthy and be with their families during this unprecedented crisis. 
  2. More must be done to assess and immediately release individuals being held pretrial who are at grave risk of serious illness or death if they contract COVID-19.
  3. Defense attorneys must be given access to their clients through phone, video or other methods so we can advocate for individuals with medical and other needs.
  4. Governor Cuomo and the state legislature must leave our bail laws intact. Certainly, now is not the time to consider measures to increase the jail population, just as we have already reduced the total number of people in jails across the state by nearly 7,000 and reduced the number of older people in Rikers by nearly half. 
  5. Governor Cuomo must use his staff resources to expedite and issue clemency for older, sick, and pregnant people and to order the release of all people detained on technical parole violations at Rikers and other local jails.
  6. Governor Cuomo must revise the emergency Executive Order that suspends due process requirements and is causing individuals to stay in jail even when the charges might otherwise be dropped.  

 

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