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

ABOUT

COVID-19 INFORMATION

FOR ALL CRIMINAL CASES, INCLUDING CRIMINAL CASES SENT TO FAMILY COURT:

  • The Criminal Court and the Criminal Term of Supreme Court are hearing cases by video. The only cases that are being heard in person are cases that are on the In Person DAT calendar and cases on the DAT-W calendar.  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 have a court date, contact your attorney who will assist you in appearing in virtual court.
  • For questions about your case, if you already have your attorney’s phone number, 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 cases by phone and video. If you are a BDS 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 BDS attorney or social worker, or have an emergency concerning the removal of children, please call 347-592-2500. If someone doesn’t answer, we will call you back as quickly as possible. ACS also has a hotline you can call to get information about where your children are located. The number is (646) 935-1411.
  • 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.
  • If you are not a current BDS client, and are not being investigated by ACS, but have questions about how to access Family Court, please follow this link for more information: http://ww2.nycourts.gov/COURTS/nyc/family/index.shtml

 

FOR INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (IDV) COURT CASES:

  • IDV court is open for virtual appearances with Microsoft Teams.
  • If you have a court date you need to appear using Microsoft Teams.
  • IDV court is also able to hear emergency applications on custody and family offense cases.
  • 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: 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 (Immigration Court): Non-detained hearing at 26 Federal Plaza and 290 Broadway in New York scheduled at least through February 19, 2021 have been postponed. Some other immigration courts have resumed non-detained hearings.
  • 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:

  • As of December 28, 2020, there is another universal eviction moratorium in NYC. This moratorium started immediately and is set to last until February 26, 2021. Tenants affected by COVID can further delay impending eviction cases by filling out a Hardship Declaration and mailing to their borough housing court or dropping off at a drop box outside the courthouse: http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/SSI/images/corona/HardshipDeclaration.pdf. Upon the court’s receipt of the Hardship Declaration, the tenant’s eviction proceeding is delayed until May 1, 2021.
  • CDC Eviction Moratorium. On January 20, 2021, the CDC extended their eviction moratorium that prevents landlords from evicting tenants who have been financially affected by COVID-19 until at least March 31, 2021.

 

Tenant Safe Harbor Act

  • In June 2020, the governor signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act into law.
  • The Tenant Safe Harbor Act is a law that stops tenants who experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 period from ever being evicted for non-payment of rent that became due during the period from March 7, 2020, until the state of emergency ends.
    • Landlords may still start eviction proceedings over rent that became due after March 7, 2020, and tenants must raise financial hardship as a defense.
    • **Landlords can still obtain money judgments against their tenants for any unpaid rent that accrued during the crisis.
    • Money judgments can still be devastating as they can result in wage garnishment and frozen bank accounts.

 

Housing Court

  • NYC Housing Court is not taking any action on non-payment or holdover cases until March 1, 2021.
    • The only exception to this is any nuisance cases that were commenced pre-COVID.
    • If you were the tenant in a nuisance case that started pre-COVID, please keep an eye out for potential virtual court appearances.
      • Please contact 311 and ask to speak to a legal service provider if you have any questions about whether your pre-COVID case is a nuisance case.
    • Landlords can file new eviction cases electronically or by mail, but the court will not accept the new filings without proof that they served the tenant with a hardship declaration.
    • For a tenant to further delay any action taken on their case to May 1, 2021, they must submit a Hardship Declaration to their borough housing court.
      • Tenants can also submit to their landlord, but the court must receive the declaration themselves in order for it to take effect.

 

  • Housing Court remains open for applications addressing post-eviction relief, illegal lockouts, and apartment repairs.
    • Tenants can file cases to compel their landlords to make repairs by going in person to the housing court in the borough in which they live or by using JustFix (an online application)

 

NYCHA Administrative Proceedings

  • NYCHA and other administrative hearings are still being postponed.

 

FOR QUESTIONS ABOUT PUBLIC BENEFITS:

  • If your PA/SNAP case was due for recertification between January and March 2021 HRA will take no adverse action if you fail to complete recertification. If you receive any notice instructing you to recertify is still best to respond as instructed.
  • 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

  • For the 2020-21 school year, the New York City Department of Education has opened its schools using a “blended learning” model, with a mix of in-person and remote learning.. More updates about the 2020-21 school year, including information about the enrollment processes and deadlines for the 2021-22 school year, can be found here.
  • The DOE initially closed all school buildings to in-person learning when infection rates in the city reached 3%. However, elementary schools reopened for in-person learning on December 7, 2020, and District 75 schools reopened for in-person learning on December 10, 2020. All middle schools and high schools remain closed for in-person learning.
  • Individual schools may close to in-person learning due to COVID-19 infections within the school community. A map of schools with school or classroom closures can be found here.
  • Families who have chosen blended learning can choose for their children to do 100% remote learning at any time by filling out this form. There are no official plans for families who have chosen fully remote learning for the school year to have another opportunity to choose blended learning.
  • Many locations around the city are serving Grab and Go meals. Students and families can pick up meals at any school building between 9:00 a.m. and noon. Members of the community can pick up meals at various locations around the city between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. No registration, ID, or documentation is required to pick up these meals. People can find the closest location serving meals here, or text “NYC FOOD” or “NYC COMIDA” to 877-877 to find the closest meal hub.
  • If you or a family member are unable to work because of factors related to coronavirus, you may be eligible for immediate unemployment insurancepandemic unemployment assistancevariousforms of paid leaveworker’s compshort term disability, or a reasonable accommodation such as working from home.  You also have the right to work in safe conditions and have protections against discrimination.
  • If you want more information about your child’s educational rights in this uncertain time, or what employment benefits you might be eligible for, contact us at education@bds.orgemployment@bds.org, or call us at 646-971-2722.

 

 

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, employment benefits, re-entry services, criminal matters or general legal issues, please call 646-971-2722 or email us at communityoffice@bds.org.

 

COVID-19 INFORMACION

PARA TODOS LOS CASOS CRIMINALES, INCLUIDOS LOS CASOS ENVIADOS AL TRIBUNAL DE FAMILIA:

  • La Corte Criminal y el Tribunal Penal de la Corte Suprema están atendiendo casos por video. Los únicos casos que se atienden en persona son los casos que están en el calendario DAT y los casos en el calendario DAT-W. Los miembros del público pueden ir a la sala de acusación del tribunal en el primer piso del 120 de Schermerhorn St. y ver el video de la acusación. Los procesamientos de delincuentes adolescentes en Youth Part 1 (YP1) en 320 Jay St. también se están llevando a cabo por video. La familia y otros miembros del público pueden ir a Youth Part 1 (YP1) y ver el video de la lectura de cargos.
  • Si tiene una cita en la corte, comuníquese con su abogado, quien lo ayudará a comparecer en la corte virtual.
  • Si tiene preguntas sobre su caso, si ya tiene el número de teléfono de su abogad@, comuníquese con él o ella 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 conoce o tiene un ser querido encarcelado que se siente enfermo o tiene dificultades para obtener atención médica, comuníquese con Jail Services al 646-787-3325 (inglés) o al 646-971-2710 (español). La persona debe estar representada por BDS.

 

 

PARA CASOS DEL TRIBUNAL DE FAMILIA ACS:

  • Por favor, no vaya al Tribunal de Familia ya que el Tribunal de Familia funciona digitalmente y está atendiendo casos por teléfono y video. Si es cliente de BDS, comuníquese con su abogad@ o trabajador@ social para su próxima cita en la corte y para discutir cualquier problema que tenga con su caso en la corte familiar.
  • Si no puede comunicarse con su abogad@ o trabajador@ social de BDS, o si tiene una emergencia relacionada con el traslado de sus niños, llame al 347-592-2500. Si alguien no responde, le devolveremos la llamada lo antes posible. ACS también tiene una línea directa a la que puede llamar para obtener información sobre dónde se encuentran sus hijos. El número es (646) 935-1411.
  • Si no es un cliente actual de BDS pero está siendo investigado por ACS, llame al 646-974-9343 para obtener asistencia inmediata. Si alguien no responde, le devolveremos la llamada lo antes posible.
  • Si no es un cliente actual de BDS y no está siendo investigado por ACS, pero tiene preguntas sobre cómo acceder al Tribunal de Familia, siga este enlace para obtener más información: http://ww2.nycourts.gov/COURTS/nyc/family/index.shtml

 

 

PARA CASOS DE VIOLENCIA DOMESTICA INTEGRADA (IDV):

  • La corte IDV está abierta para comparecencias virtuales a través Microsoft Teams.
  • Si tiene una cita en la corte, debe comparecer con Microsoft Teams.
  • El tribunal de IDV también puede atender solicitudes de emergencia en casos de custodia y delitos familiares.
  • Si tiene una orden que no se está siguiendo o necesita más ayuda legal, comuníquese con su abogad@ de IDV (el directorio del personal se encuentra en la parte superior de esta página)
  • Su abogad@ lo llamará a usted o a su familia con su nueva fecha de corte.

 

 

PARA CASOS DE INMIGRACIÓN:

  • Para comunicarse con nuestra práctica de inmigración, llame al: 718-564-6290
  • Para preguntas sobre personas DETENIDAS ÚNICAMENTE: 347-768-3040
  • ICE continúa con las operaciones de cumplimiento, incluidos los arrestos en hogares, lugares de negocios y cerca de los juzgados. Conozca sus derechos viendo nuestra serie de videos: www.wehaverights.us
  • Hasta el cierre de operaciones 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) se han suspendido, y todas las citas para informar en persona a ICE / ERO de la ciudad de Nueva York, o cualquier sub- oficina (Central Islip y Newburgh), así como informar en persona a los contratistas de ICE (BI) sobre ATD, se cancelaron y se reprogramarán, o se lo comunicarán telefónicamente. No se han suspendido los informes telefónicos programados anteriormente.
  • Todavía se están celebrando audiencias para las personas detenidas en el Tribunal de Inmigración de Varick Street de Nueva York; la mayoría se llevan a cabo mediante videoconferencia.
  • EOIR (Tribunal de Inmigración): Se han pospuesto las audiencias de no detenidos en 26 Federal Plaza y 290 Broadway en Nueva York programadas al menos hasta el 19 de febrero de 2021. Algunos otros tribunales de inmigración han reanudado las audiencias de no detenidos.
  • USCIS está reabriendo las oficinas locales al público para las ceremonias el 15 de junio de 2020 y gradualmente programará entrevistas y citas más adelante en el mes. (No se ha proporcionado información adicional sobre los detalles). Los solicitantes que están programados para venir a la oficina recibirán un aviso e instrucciones por correo. Las personas deben consultar el sitio web de USCIS y leer atentamente los avisos sobre las precauciones y requisitos relacionados con COVID-19 para las citas en persona.

 

 

PARA CASOS DE VIVIENDA O CIVILES:

  • A partir del 28 de diciembre de 2020, hay otra moratoria de desalojo universal en Nueva York. Esta moratoria comenzó de inmediato y está programada para durar hasta el 26 de febrero de 2021. Los inquilinos afectados por COVID pueden retrasar aún más los casos de desalojo inminentes al completar una Declaración de Dificultades y enviarla por correo a la corte de vivienda de su condado o dejarla en un buzón fuera del tribunal: http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/SSI/images/corona/HardshipDeclaration.pdf. Una vez que el tribunal reciba la Declaración de dificultades económicas, el procedimiento de desalojo del inquilino se retrasa hasta el 1 de mayo de 2021.
  • Moratoria de desalojo del CDC. El 20 de enero de 2021, el CDC extendió su moratoria de desalojo que evita que los propietarios desalojen a los inquilinos que han sido afectados financieramente por COVID-19 hasta al menos el 31 de marzo de 2021.

 

Ley de puerto seguro para inquilinos

  • En junio de 2020, el gobernador promulgó la Ley de puerto seguro para inquilinos.
  • La Ley de puerto seguro para inquilinos es una ley que impide que los inquilinos que experimentaron dificultades financieras durante el período de COVID-19 sean desalojados por falta de pago del alquiler vencido durante el período comprendido entre el 7 de marzo de 2020, hasta que finalice el estado de emergencia.
    • Los propietarios aún pueden iniciar procedimientos de desalojo por alquiler que haya vencido después del 7 de marzo de 2020, y los inquilinos deben presentar prueba de dificultades financieras como defensa.
    • ** Los propietarios aún pueden obtener juicios monetarios contra sus inquilinos por cualquier alquiler impago que se haya acumulado durante la crisis.
    • Los juicios monetarios aún pueden ser devastadores, ya que pueden resultar en embargos salariales y cuentas bancarias congeladas.

 

Tribunal de Vivienda

  • El Tribunal de Vivienda de la Ciudad de Nueva York no tomará ninguna medida en casos de impago o remanente hasta el 1 de marzo de 2021.
    • La única excepción a esto son los casos de molestias que se iniciaron antes de COVID.
    • Si usted fue el inquilino en un caso de molestias que comenzó antes de COVID, esté atento a posibles comparecencias en la corte virtual.
      • Comuníquese con el 311 y pida hablar con un proveedor de servicios legales si tiene alguna pregunta sobre si su caso anterior a COVID es un caso de molestias.
    • Los propietarios pueden presentar nuevos casos de desalojo electrónicamente o por correo, pero el tribunal no aceptará las nuevas presentaciones sin prueba de que entregaron al inquilino una declaración de dificultades.
  • Para que un inquilino demore aún más cualquier acción tomada en su caso hasta el 1 de mayo de 2021, debe presentar una Declaración de dificultades a la corte de vivienda de su condado.
    • Los inquilinos también pueden presentarse a su arrendador, pero el tribunal debe recibir la declaración ellos mismos para que entre en vigor.
  • El Tribunal de Vivienda permanece abierto para solicitudes relacionadas con el alivio posterior al desalojo, los cierres patronales ilegales y la reparación de apartamentos.
    • Los inquilinos pueden presentar casos para obligar a sus propietarios a hacer reparaciones yendo en persona al tribunal de vivienda en el municipio en el que viven o usando JustFix (una solicitud en línea).

Procedimientos administrativos de NYCHA

  • NYCHA y otras audiencias administrativas continúan pospuestas.

 

PARA PREGUNTAS SOBRE BENEFICIOS PÚBLICOS:

  • Si su caso PA / SNAP debía ser recertificado entre enero y marzo de 2021, la HRA no tomará ninguna medida adversa si no completa la recertificación. Si recibe algún aviso que le indique que debe volver a certificarse, es mejor responder según las instrucciones.
  • 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 la HRA están cerradas! Si debe visitar en persona, llame al 311 para conocer las ubicaciones disponibles.
  • Hay asistencia alimentaria disponible en una despensa de alimentos cercana. Llame al 311 para conocer las ubicaciones.
  • Si tiene preguntas o le gustaría hablar con la práctica civil, pídale a su abogado que lo recomiende o comuníquese con nosotros al 332-213-4193.

 

 

PARA PREGUNTAS SOBRE EDUCACIÓN Y EMPLEO

  • Para el año escolar 2020-21, el Departamento de Educación de la Ciudad de Nueva York ha abierto sus escuelas utilizando un modelo de “aprendizaje combinado”, con una combinación de aprendizaje en persona y remoto. Puede encontrar más actualizaciones sobre el año escolar 2020-21, incluida información sobre los procesos de inscripción y las fechas límite para el año escolar 2021-22, aquí.
  • El DOE inicialmente cerró todos los edificios escolares para el aprendizaje en persona cuando las tasas de infección en la ciudad alcanzaron el 3%. Sin embargo, las escuelas primarias reabrieron para el aprendizaje en persona el 7 de diciembre de 2020 y las escuelas del Distrito 75 reabrieron para el aprendizaje en persona el 10 de diciembre de 2020. Todas las escuelas intermedias y secundarias permanecen cerradas para el aprendizaje en persona.
  • Las escuelas individuales pueden cerrar el aprendizaje en persona debido a las infecciones por COVID-19 dentro de la comunidad escolar. Puede encontrar un mapa de los cierres de escuelas o aulas aquí.
  • Las familias que han optado por el aprendizaje mixto pueden elegir que sus hijos realicen un aprendizaje remoto al 100% en cualquier momento completando este formulario. No hay planes oficiales para que las familias que han elegido el aprendizaje completamente remoto durante el año escolar tengan otra oportunidad de elegir el aprendizaje combinado.
  • En muchos lugares de la ciudad se sirven comidas para llevar. Los estudiantes y las familias pueden recoger las comidas en cualquier escuela entre las 9:00 a.m. y el mediodía. Los miembros de la comunidad pueden recoger comidas en varios lugares de la ciudad entre las 3:00 p.m. y 5:00 p.m. No se requiere registro, identificación o documentación para recoger estas comidas. Las personas pueden encontrar el lugar más cercano que sirve comidas aquí, o envíe un mensaje de texto con “NYC FOOD” o “NYC COMIDA” al 877-877 para encontrar el centro de comidas más cercano.
  • Si usted o un miembro de su familia no pueden trabajar debido a factores relacionados con el coronavirus, puede ser elegible para Seguro de desempleodesempleo por pandemiavariasformas de vacaciones pagadascompensación de trabajadoresshort term disability, o acomodación razonable como trabajar desde casa. Usted también tiene derecho de trabajar en condiciones seguras y tener 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 podría ser elegible, comuníquese a education@bds.orgemployment@bds.org, o llámenos al 646-971-2722.

 

 

OFICINA COMUNITARIA:

  • Nuestra oficina comunitaria está cerrada actualmente, pero estamos trabajando de forma remota y disponibles para ayudar.
  • Si tiene problemas o preguntas sobre ACS, educación, vivienda, beneficios laborales, servicios de reingreso, asuntos penales o asuntos legales generales, llame al 646-971-2722 o envíenos un correo electrónico a communityoffice@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
Jason Starr, 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

COMMUNICATIONS ASSISTANT

Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) represents approximately 30,000 clients per year in a variety of legal proceedings in New York City, primarily indigent criminal, family, and immigration defense. We also provide legal representation for our clients on a wide range of matters that impact their lives including housing, education, employment and immigration. We are one of the largest public defense providers; representing people who have diverse, complex, and multi-faceted needs in a high volume and fast-paced setting.

BDS’s Policy & Advocacy team harnesses legal expertise and experience to advocate for change at City, State, and national levels in legal systems that affect the people BDS serves. The team is also responsible for fundraising and external communications.

See idealist.org for full job posting.

PARALEGAL – CRIMINAL DEFENSE PRACTICE

Job Description:
BDS is seeking a full time Paralegal to transfer to the Criminal Defense Paralegal Unit to assist
with a variety of paralegal functions. We are looking for someone who is highly motivated and
who has strong organizational skills.

See idealist.org for full job posting.

FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITY ANNOUNCEMENT 

Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) seeks third year law students to sponsor for law-school-based fellowships. 

Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) represents approximately 30,000 clients per year in a variety of legal proceedings in New York City, primarily public defense representation in criminal, family, and immigration defense. We also provide legal representation for our clients on a variety of issues, including housing, education, employment and wide-reaching immigration legal services. We are one of the largest public defense providers in New York and the United States; representing people who have diverse, complex, and multi-faceted needs in a high volume and fast-paced setting.  

See idealist.org for full job posting.

EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE STAFF ATTORNEY

Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) seeks an attorney with three or more years’ experience to join its Education and Employment Practice as an employment attorney to provide legal representation for individuals with concurrent criminal legal, family court, and immigration matters.

Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) represents approximately 30,000 clients per year in a variety of legal proceedings in New York City, primarily public defense representation in criminal, family, and immigration defense. We also provide legal representation for our clients on a variety of issues, including housing, benefits, education, employment and wide-reaching immigration legal services. We are one of the largest public defense providers in New York and the United States; representing people who have diverse, complex, and multi-faceted needs in a high volume and fast-paced setting.

See idealist.org for full job posting.

SOCIAL WORKER

Brooklyn Defender Services is an interdisciplinary law office representing almost 30,000 indigent clients arrested each year with specialized legal services for young clients and those with immigration issues.
The Criminal Defense Practice represents clients facing both misdemeanor and felony cases in Brooklyn Supreme and Criminal Courts. BDS advocates for clients who have diverse, complex, and multi-faceted needs in a very fast-paced setting.
BDS seeks an energetic social worker to become an integral part of the criminal defense team to advocate for clients, both in and out of court.

See idealist.org for full job posting.

ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORKER

BDS is one of the largest public defense providers in the United States. We represent more than 30,000 clients per year in various 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:

An experienced social worker to team up with attorneys that provide comprehensive legal representation to youth age 14 to 21 with misdemeanor and felony charges.

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. We are currently accepting applications for Summer 2021 internships.

  • For the Immigration Practice internship is no longer accepting applications for the Summer 2021 program.
  • For the Family Defense Practice internship, please send a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Ambika Panday (apanday@bds.org) and Aisha Alleyne (aalleyne@bds.org).
  • For the Civil Justice Practice internship, please send a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Lauren Price (lprice@bds.org).
  • The Criminal Defense Practice is no longer accepting applications for the Summer 2021 program.

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.

We are not currently accepting applications for the investigative internship.

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

February 11, 2021

BDS sends coalition letter to Governor Cuomo and Democratic leadership outlining family defense legislative priorities for 2021 (PDF)

December 26, 2020

BDS sends coalition letter to Governor Cuomo and Democratic leadership outlining criminal legal priorities for 2021 (PDF)

November 16. 2020

BDS testifies before the New York City Council Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction (PDF)

October 28, 2020

BDS testifies before the New York City Council General Welfare Committee (PDF)

October 19, 2020

BDS testifies before the The New York City Taxi and and Limousine Commission about proposed rule changes (PDF)

October 16, 2020

BDS testifies before the New York City Council Committees on Education and Health on Reopening NYC Public Schools (PDF)

October 13, 2020

BDS submits Public Comment on Proposed Rule re Biometric Data Collection (PDF)

September 30, 2020

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Health and Hospitals about NYC’s COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing Program. (PDF)

September 22, 2020

BDS testifies before the NYS Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections & Committee on Health about the impact of COVID-19 on prisons and jails. (PDF)

BDS submits letter to New York State Court’s Commission on Equal Justice in the Courts on structural racism in the Unified Court System. (PDF)

Report to the New York State Court’s Commission on Equal Justice in the Courts submitted by The Judicial Friends Association. (PDF)

September 21, 2020

BDS testifies before the NYC Council Committee on Criminal Justice & Committee on Hospitals about the Department of Correction and Correctional Health Services’ management of COVID-19 in jails. (PDF)

September 18, 2020

BDS testifies before the NYC Council on the exclusion of immigrants in COVID-19 relief. (PDF)

BDS testifies before the NYC Council about the looming eviction crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (PDF)

September 15, 2020

BDS testifies before the NYC Council on issues facing NYC renters, including discrimination against people who use housing vouchers. (PDF)

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)

http://bds.org/wp-content/uploads/2019.12.11-City-Council-Testimony-Day-Fines-and-Collateral-Consequences.pdf

December 11, 2019

BDS testified before the New York City Council Committees on the Justice System and on Government Operations about day fines and collateral consequences of drug arrests and conviction (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

IMMIGRATION ADVOCATES DEMAND RELEASE OF PEOPLE IN DETENTION IN LIGHT OF NEW ICE GUIDANCE

February 4, 2021

 

Contacts: 

Alejandra Lopez, The Legal Aid Society, AILopez@legal-aid.org, 917-294-9348

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

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

 

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

 

Immigration Advocates Demand Release of People in Detention in Light of New ICE Guidance

In Letter to ICE Field Office, Defense Attorneys and Advocates Call for the Release of Detained Immigrants Pursuant to January 20th DHS Memo

(New York, NY) – The Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services, and The Bronx Defenders – New York City’s defender organizations providing free legal representation to detained immigrants through the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), along with American Immigration Lawyers Association – NY Chapter, Central American Legal Assistance, The Door, Immigrant Defense Project, The Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic, CUNY School of Law, Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo School of Law, Make the Road New York, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, New York Civil Liberties Union, New York Legal Assistance Group, NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic, and UnLocalsent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) urging the release of detained immigrants pursuant to a memorandum issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on January 20, 2021, redefining enforcement, custody, and removal priorities. Immigrants detained in local ICE jail facilities fall outside of the priorities stated in the memorandum, but ICE has not followed its own guidance to release any detained immigrants pursuant to this memo. 

The letter states:

We urge you to release and return to our communities all people in your custody under the priorities identified in the January 20, 2021, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) memorandum entitled “Review of and Interim Revision to Civil Immigration Enforcement and Removal Policies and Priorities,” issued by Acting Secretary David Pekoske (“Pekoske memo”).

…the vast majority of—if not all—people currently in your custody fall outside of the Pekoske memo’s priorities, warranting their immediate release.

We understand that the New York Field Office has stated publicly that ICE is now implementing the Pekoske memo. However, as of today, ICE officers have been treating requests for release under the memo as if they were a different category of requests — namely, for release under the Fraihat v. ICE court order for people with COVID-19 risk factors — and failing to acknowledge that the Pekoske memo mandates a separate review for people who are no longer enforcement priorities. We call on New York ICE to promptly release all people who are not priorities under the memo, in addition to those vulnerable to COVID-19. We also call on you to stop increasing the population at immigration detention facilities through the transfer of our community members from prisons and jails. Transfers endanger public safety and are inconsistent with the Pekoske memo.

We eagerly await your office’s actions to implement the new enforcement priorities. 

NYIFUP also released the following statement:

“The priorities outlined in the Pekoske memo demand action from local ICE officials and the immediate release of our clients and other immigrants detained in ICE facilities. Immigration detention has never been just or safe, and amidst a global public health crisis—which continues to ravage prisons, jails, and immigration detention centers across the country—our clients face egregiously dangerous conditions that threaten their health, safety, and lives. Releasing all people from immigration detention has never been more urgent, and ICE must comply with the memo issued by its own parent agency.” 

BACKGROUND: The New York Family Immigrant Unity Project (NYIFUP) is the nation’s first public defender system for immigrants facing deportation—defined as those in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Funded by the New York City Council since July 2014, the program provides a free attorney to almost all detained indigent immigrants facing deportation at the Varick Street Immigration Court in New York City.

There is currently a COVID-19 outbreak in Bergen County jail, with 12 people currently testing positive, according to ICE

Public health experts have called for decarceration as a life-saving tool in the fight against COVID-19.

Immigration detention facilities have relied on widespread solitary confinement amid this pandemic, which only exacerbates the harm and spread of the virus.

News

STATEMENT ON THE REPEAL OF THE WALKING WHILE TRANS BAN

“We applaud the state legislature and Governor Cuomo for at long last repealing the Walking While Trans ban. Since its enactment, this statute has disproportionately been used to arrest Black and Latinx transgender and cisgender women and LGBTQ people for simply existing. The police used it as a pretext to stop and frisk people simply for standing on the sidewalk, hailing a cab, or going to and returning from work. Enforcement of the statute, if not the statute itself, was patently sexist, racist, and transphobic.

Repealing NYPL 240.37 is a racial justice issue and a gender justice issue. This new law importantly allows people who have been criminalized to have their records sealed, allowing people to finally move forward without being unfairly burdened with the numerous employment and immigration consequences that violations bring. We thank and celebrate the trans leaders and advocates who fought for decades to make this a reality,  and thank legislative champions Senator Hoylman and Assembly Member Paulin,  Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Governor Cuomo for urgently enacting this legislation to end this gender-based stop-and-frisk,” said Jillian Modzeleski, Senior Trial Attorney in the Women’s Defense Project at Brooklyn Defender Services. 

News

STATEMENT FROM CHRISHANA WHITE, BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES’ DIRECTOR OF DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION, HONORING #BLACKHISTORYMONTH2021

Today, we celebrate the beginning of Black History Month 2021. Black History Month is a time to celebrate, honor, reflect, and pay tribute to the rich accomplishments and history of Black people who built this country, from ordinary people to historical icons. This celebration and recognition should not be relegated to one month, but should be a daily practice. We’d be remiss to recognize this month without acknowledging that each and every legal system we work in as public defenders disproportionately targets, criminalizes, surveils, arrests, separates, incarcerates, and deports members of the Black community. As we work together to combat anti-Black racism inherent to these systems, it is imperative that we not focus solely on this ever-present struggle, but we remember to celebrate Black joy, art, culture, and love. Brooklyn Defender Services strives to continue this practice of recognition and celebration throughout the year!

News

NYIFUP CONDEMNS ICE FOR HEAT OUTAGE AT BERGEN COUNTY JAIL ON COLDEST DAY IN TRI-STATE IN TWO YEARS  

January 29, 2020

 

Contacts: 

Alejandra Lopez, The Legal Aid Society, AILopez@legal-aid.org, 917-294-9348

Daniel Ball Brooklyn Defender Services, dball@bds.org 

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

 

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

 

NYIFUP Condemns ICE for Heat Outage at Bergen County Jail on Coldest Day in Tri-State in Two Years  

(New York, NY) – The Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services, and The Bronx Defenders – New York City’s defender organizations providing free legal representation to detained immigrants through the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) today sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) concerning several alarming reports that there is no heat in various detainee cellblocks at Bergen County Jail. The heat outage–on the coldest day in the Tri-State area in two years–has reportedly lasted over 36 hours. 

One detainee said he was told by jail staff that “the cold will kill the coronavirus, so we’re not turning it on.” The letter further states: 

“There are high levels of community spread in the NY/NJ area, and detainees are vulnerable to infection, serious illness and death if exposed [to COVID-19]. Given that this is a public health emergency for our clients, we ask that you immediately direct the release of ICE detainees from Bergen. 

Moreover, this lack of heat is especially concerning considering the extremely low temperatures currently affecting Bergen County, New Jersey, thereby placing our clients at severe risk.”

NYIFUP attorneys are demanding that ICE release all incarcerated individuals immediately. 

BACKGROUND: The New York Family Immigrant Unity Project (NYIFUP) is the nation’s first public defender system for immigrants facing deportation—defined as those in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Funded by the New York City Council since July 2014, the program provides a free attorney to almost all detained indigent immigrants facing deportation at the Varick Street Immigration Court in New York City.

There is currently a COVID-19 outbreak in the Hudson County jail, which officials believe can be traced to a staff person. 

Public health experts have called for decarceration as a life-saving tool in the fight against COVID-19.

Immigration detention facilities have relied on widespread solitary confinement amid this pandemic, which only exacerbates the harm and spread of the virus.

 

News

PUBLIC DEFENDERS NATIONWIDE ANNOUNCE PLAN FOR IMMIGRATION JUSTICE; PROVIDE TEN-POINT PLAN TO BIDEN ADMINISTRATION

January 13, 2021

 

CONTACTS:

Valerie Ibarra – San Francisco Public Defender’s Office – (628)249-7946 – Valerie.Ibarra@sfgov.org

Lindsey Hortenstine – New Orleans Public Defender’s Office – (404) 520-3087 – LHoretnstine@opdla.org

Bob McGovern, Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, rmcgovern@publiccounsel.net

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

**PRESS RELEASE**

Public Defenders Nationwide Announce Plan for Immigration Justice; Provide Ten-Point Plan to Biden Administration

Public Defenders Urge Federal Government to Take Bold Steps to Reverse and Repair Damage of the Outgoing Administration

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the Public Defenders’ Coalition for Immigrant Justice, a nationwide coalition of public defender offices, released a 10-point plan for addressing the injustices of the criminal legal system and its pipeline to deportation. The plan urges the Biden administration and new Democratic majority in Congress to act swiftly and decisively for immigration justice to undo the unjust, harmful and destructive tactics of the outgoing administration.

Public defenders are direct witnesses to the devastation that unjust state and federal laws cause our clients, their families, and their communities. The draconian policies of the last four years exposed the cruelty of the immigration enforcement machine, leading to a sharp rebuke at the polls, and public disenchantment with mass deportation. The Biden Administration has an opportunity to take a fresh approach to these important issues with immediate and bold action on behalf of our immigrant community members.

The Ten-Point Immigration Program for the Biden Administration recommends the immediate halt to deportations for a year, the reversal of inhumane Trump-era policies, and the establishment of due process protections in the immigration courts. The plan implores the Biden Administration to guarantee legal representation for people in removal proceedings, to end the jail-to-I.C.E. pipeline, and to restore pathways to lawful immigration status. The plan urges an end to immigrant detention, a sharp reduction in funding to ICE and the U.S. Border Patrol, and an increased investment in our communities.

The Public Defenders’ Coalition for Immigration Justice consists of 39 offices across the country who represent immigrants in criminal and/or immigration proceedings — including the National Association for Public Defense (NAPD) and public defense offices from Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas.

Mano Raju, Public Defender of San Francisco

“We have lived four chaotic years of inhumane and antidemocratic immigration policies that have criminalized immigrants, wreaked havoc on families, and betrayed the very principles of inclusivity and tolerance that must guide our nation. The time is now to make change. As a first order of business, the Biden Administration must immediately end the jail to ICE pipeline, guarantee legal representation for all, and end the inhumane practice of detaining immigrants, which has no demonstrable effect on public safety, and has endangered the lives of those in custody.”

Derwyn Bunton, Chief Defender for Orleans Parish and Chair of the National Association for Public Defense

“Representation remains one of the most fundamental principles in our legal system. As public defenders, we know all too well the cruelty and injustice Black and brown people and communities of color receive in the name of justice. The increased criminalization of immigration the last four years has not only been misguided, it has furthered the harm caused by a mass incarceration system disproportionately focused on Black, brown, and poor communities. The time for change is now.”

Wendy Wayne, Director of Immigration Impact Unit, Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services

“As public defenders who represent immigrant clients, we have witnessed firsthand how the “War on Drugs” and decades of over-policing of communities of color, coupled with immigration laws and enforcement policies that disproportionately target immigrants with criminal histories, have resulted in unjust deportations, separation of families and untold damage to our communities. We urge the Biden administration to think beyond “good” or “bad” immigrants and adopt policies which recognize that all individuals deserve fair treatment, due process, and the opportunity for rehabilitation and meaningful participation in our society.”

Andrea Sàenz, Attorney-in-Charge of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) at Brooklyn Defender Services

“Our platform calls for universal representation of immigrants facing deportation, because when the stakes are often literally life, death, or permanent family separation, no one should be deported simply because they couldn’t afford an attorney. We need to change, shrink, and defund the deportation system and reinvest in our communities. ICE enforcement, detention and other cruel immigration policies tear apart families, and we urge the Biden administration and the new Democratic majority congress to listen to our neighbors’ voices.”

Edwin Tineo, former client of Brooklyn Defender Services’ NYIFUP, Fellow with the New Sanctuary Coalition

“This immigration system has done so much harm to so many people living in this country, including myself. With the new president, we need to make sure that no one goes through what I went through. Not one more person should be forced to suffer in immigration detention for months and years just because of where they were born. ICE puts fear into our community by terrorizing our hard-working immigrant neighbors and locking people away and deporting them away from their families. This agency should no longer exist. Instead, the Biden administration should keep our families and communities together by allowing people to live here legally with equal rights.”

###

Link to the Public Defenders’ Coalition Ten-Point Immigration Program which includes all signatories.

Link to the recording of the press conference held on January 13, 2021.

News

NYIFUP STATEMENT ON EGREGIOUS TREATMENT OF IMMIGRANTS ON HUNGER STRIKE IN ICE DETENTION

January 8, 2020

 

Contacts: 

Alejandra Lopez, The Legal Aid Society, AILopez@legal-aid.org, 917-294-9348

Daniel Ball Brooklyn Defender Services, dball@bds.org 

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

 

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

 

NYIFUP Statement on Egregious Treatment of Immigrants on Hunger Strike in ICE Detention 

Attorneys Demand Transparency from Jail Officials and Release of All Immigrants in ICE Custody

(New York, NY) – The Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services, and The Bronx Defenders – New York City’s defender organizations providing free legal representation to detained immigrants through the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) today released the below statement in response to mounting reports that ICE and jail officials have retaliated against incarcerated people participating in a hunger strike at Hudson County Jail. 

At least three ICE detainees have been placed in solitary confinement and denied water and other basic necessities for over 24 hours, forced to sleep in cold temperatures without blankets, and had all their personal belongings confiscated without explanation. NYIFUP attorneys report that they have been unable to reach their clients and that their appointments were cancelled with no prior notice. Additionally, it is reported that some 50 incarcerated immigrants are being transferred to another facility, possibly in an effort to curtail the strike. 

According to one detainee, “The treatment we are receiving here is inhumane. We are being treated worse than rats. I am suffering. No one should have to suffer this treatment.” 

NYIFUP released the following statement:

“This egregious treatment of our clients in ICE detention is absolutely unacceptable and marks a violent and inhumane form of retaliation by jail officials. Our clients have the right to protest the poor and life-threatening conditions in which they are being held, which range from inadequate medical care, poor sanitation, broken phone and video equipment that prevents communication with families and attorneys, to widespread solitary confinement. The ongoing hunger strikes are yet another urgent call to action by detained people taking enormous personal risks to demand justice and safety. The daily accounts we hear from the people we serve — current and former participants in the strike — are horrific, appalling, and an indictment of ICE and jail staff’s deliberate disregard for human life, and we are united with them in their fight.  

With COVID surging again in New York, New Jersey, and across the country, releasing all people from immigration detention has never been more urgent. We call on ICE to respect detained individuals’ right to protest, to not retaliate against them, and to instead protect public health and human rights by releasing people immediately.”

BACKGROUND: The New York Family Immigrant Unity Project (NYIFUP) is the nation’s first public defender system for immigrants facing deportation—defined as those in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Funded by the New York City Council since July 2014, the program provides a free attorney to almost all detained indigent immigrants facing deportation at the Varick Street Immigration Court in New York City.

There is currently a COVID-19 outbreak in the Hudson County jail, which officials believe can be traced to a staff person. 

Public health experts have called for decarceration as a life-saving tool in the fight against COVID-19.

Immigration detention facilities have relied on widespread solitary confinement amid this pandemic, which only exacerbates the harm and spread of the virus.

News

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES CALLS FOR MARIJUANA JUSTICE IN LIGHT OF GOVERNOR CUOMO’S LEGALIZATION PROPOSAL

January 6, 2021

 

Contact: Daniel Ball, dball@bds.org

 

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

 

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES CALLS FOR MARIJUANA JUSTICE IN LIGHT OF GOVERNOR CUOMO’S LEGALIZATION PROPOSAL

 

(BROOKLYN, NY) – Jackie Gosdigian, Senior Policy Counsel of Brooklyn Defender Services released the following statement in response to Governor Cuomo’s announcement of a plan to legalize marijuana in 2021 executive budget:

“With today’s announcement, Governor Cuomo has recognized that now is the time for New York to legalize marijuana. However, it is imperative that marijuana is not simply legalized but legalized the right way. That means passing a progessive legalization bill that is rooted in racial and economic justice, and focuses not only on increasing revenue and jobs, but also on giving back to the communities that have long suffered the impacts of marijuana prohibition and racially biased enforcement. The harms of prohibition persist even with decriminalization and underscore the need for legalization that promotes marijuana justice. Law enforcement continues to use marijuana as a pretext to stop and harass people of color and the family regulation system continues to use marijuana to separate Black and Latinx children from their families and hold them in foster care longer. To undo past harms and create a more equitable New York, Governor Cuomo and state legislators must center communities who have borne the brunt of the criminalization of marijuana in its legalization effort.”

BACKGROUND: Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) is a public defender organization serving tens of thousands of Brooklyn residents each year since 1996. Our mission is to provide high-quality and client-centered criminal, family, and immigration legal representation, as well as civil legal services, social work support and advocacy for people who cannot afford an attorney. 

 Brooklyn Defender Services is a member of Start SMART NY– Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade coalition – the campaign dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition in New York. The campaign believes that it is time to stop the ineffective, racially biased, and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition and to create a new, well-regulated, and inclusive marijuana industry that is rooted in racial and economic justice.

 

News

MESSAGE ABOUT PHONE SCAMS

Brooklyn Defender Services is a non-profit that provides legal representation at no charge to our clients. We will never ask for money for our services or anything related to our clients’ cases. A phone scam has come to our attention where the caller represents themselves as calling from Brooklyn Defender Services to say that a loved one has been arrested and asks for bail money. The caller may also say they are from “Kings County Public Defender Office” – there is no such organization. These callers are preying on vulnerable people and we strongly condemn their actions.

If you or someone you know receives a suspicious call purporting to be from Brooklyn Defender Services, request the caller’s name, hang up, and call our office at (718) 254-0700 and request to speak with that person. If the caller is a BDS employee, we will connect you to them. The purpose of this message is to prevent future scams and our staff will not be offended if you ask to verify their identity in this manner.

News

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION AND ABOLITION OF NYPD VICE SQUAD IN LETTER TO NYC OFFICIALS

December 10, 2020

Contact: Daniel Ball, dball@bds.org

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

Brooklyn Defender Services Calls For Independent Investigation And Abolition Of NYPD Vice Squad In Letter To NYC Officials

In Light of ProPublica Investigation into NYPD Vice Culture and Abuses, Defenders Demand Accountability and the Decriminalization of Sex Work

(BROOKLYN, NY) – Lisa Schreibersdorf, Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services , sent a letter on December 10th to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the five NYC District Attorneys and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, in response to a recently published article detailing horrific abuses by the NYPD Vice Squad published by ProPublica titled “NYPD Cops Cash In on Sex Trade Arrests With Little Evidence, While Black and Brown New Yorkers Pay the Price.”

The letter, which is available in full here, calls for the abolition of the Vice Squad, an independent investigation of the unit, full decriminalization of sex work, an independent investigation into the existence and dissemination of recordings made by NYPD members during Vice Squad operations, vacatur of convictions of cases brought by UC-157 and other Vice Squad officers, and shrinking of the NYPD budget, among other recommendations.
Lisa Schreibersdorf, Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services also released the following statement:

“The targeted enforcement of outdated, paternalistic and racist laws by the NYPD Vice Squad has been mired in corruption, sexual misconduct, and gross abuses of New Yorkers for decades. Ending the harms perpetrated by NYPD Vice is a clear issue of both gender and racial justice. People targeted for arrest for sex work are overwhelmingly transgender and cisgender women, and people arrested both for sex work and for purchase-side charges are almost exclusively Black, Brown, and Asian New Yorkers. The stories shared in this article are not outliers; rather, they are representative of what we know to be true of the culture and operations of NYPD Vice. The actions of the NYPD reflect a culture of dehumanization and abuse in pursuit of criminal charges as well as the Department-sanctioned sexual gratification of individual officers through rape, harassment, and exploitation. The City is spending enormous resources and inflicting significant harm in the name of ‘vice’ enforcement, and this must end.”

BACKGROUND: Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) is a public defender organization serving tens of thousands of Brooklyn residents each year since 1996. Our mission is to provide high-quality and client-centered criminal, family, and immigration legal representation, as well as civil legal services, social work support and advocacy for people who cannot afford an attorney.

Brooklyn Defender Services’ Women’s Defense Project was created in response to the highly traumatic nature of the experience of our clients who have a history of violence, exploitation and abuse that directly or indirectly led to their involvement in the criminal legal system. Our responsive legal representation on behalf of cisgender and transgender women who are charged with crimes in Brooklyn focuses on defending them in the criminal cases as well as the related consequences that often arise from these charges. We are also committed to bringing to light the harm of police enforcement policies and the abusive practices of NYPD officers who are tasked with enforcing the laws against sex work. We regularly represent people who are required to appear in the Human Trafficking Intervention Court, where we represent sex workers and victims of trafficking who have come in contact with the criminal legal system. We have represented thousands of people who have been charged with both sale and purchase-side crimes related to sex work.

News

STATEMENT BY ATTORNEY-IN-CHARGE OF BDS’ DETAINED DEPORTATION DEFENSE TEAM ON BERGEN COUNTY JAIL CONDITIONS AS DETAINED IMMIGRANTS’ HUNGER STRIKE

December 8, 2020

Contact: Daniel Ball, dball@bds.org

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

STATEMENT BY ATTORNEY-IN-CHARGE OF BDS’ DETAINED DEPORTATION DEFENSE TEAM ON BERGEN COUNTY JAIL CONDITIONS AS DETAINED IMMIGRANTS’ HUNGER STRIKE

(BROOKLYN, NY) – Andrea Sáenz, Attorney-in-Charge of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) for Brooklyn Defender Services, released the following statement about conditions at Bergen County Jail, in response to reports that a group of immigrants in the facility have reached the 25th day of their hunger strike, and renews call to free all detained immigrants:

“As the second wave of the pandemic hits New York City and New Jersey, a group of immigrants detained at Bergen County Jail have entered the 25th day of their hunger strike to protest conditions and demand release. The people we represent have long reported negligent and dangerous conditions in ICE detention, only worsened by the pandemic, including solitary confinement, lack of basic sanitation, and inadequate medical care. In recent days, we have heard from our clients detained at Bergen County Jail that there is no soap in bathrooms for handwashing; no disinfectants or hand sanitizers are available; bathrooms are not being cleaned and some are out of order; food is scarce and inadequate; temperatures are cold; phones are not disinfected; guards are antagonistic; single masks have to be worn for several days; and social distancing remains impossible in crowded rooms of 50 to 60 people with some not wearing masks.  

As COVID-19 ravages prisons and jails across the country and deaths in ICE detention reach record highs, these conditions are unacceptable and downright life-threatening. ICE enforcement and detention is racist, inhumane, and a danger to us all, especially in a global pandemic. ICE must free all immigrants from Bergen County jail and all detention centers across the country and allow people to remain safely with their families and communities.”

BACKGROUND: Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) is a public defender organization serving tens of thousands of Brooklyn residents each year since 1996. Our mission is to provide high-quality and client-centered criminal, family, and immigration legal representation, as well as civil legal services, social work support and advocacy for people who cannot afford an attorney. Since the pandemic struck, BDS’ New York Immigrant Family Unity Project has taken successful legal action causing ICE to release 75% of all the detained immigrants we serve.