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Opinions & Editorials

Sep
18
2014
Op-Ed: End State's Two-Tiered Justice System (amNew York)

By Donna Lieberman New York's two-tiered criminal justice system -- one in which poor people who can't afford to hire a lawyer are forced to rely on the state's dismal system of public defense -- has claimed tens of thousands of victims. In a few weeks, the state will go to court in Albany in a class-action lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union claiming the system violates the U.S. Constitution.

Sep
18
2014
Op-Ed: End New York's Two-Tiered Justice System (Newsday)

By Donna Lieberman Donald Telfair did not meet his public defense attorney until he was standing in front of the prosecutor and judge in a Suffolk County courtroom last year. He had been violently attacked by a group of men, but instead of taking his report, the police charged him with robbery. His defense attorney didn't explain that Telfair had been assaulted, or protest when the prosecutor argued he was a flight risk. Still in his hospital gown, with one eye swollen and his jaw wired shut, Telfair, 46, of Medford, was instead forced to address the court himself.

Sep
18
2014
Op-Ed: Set Public Defender Standards (Albany Times Union)

By Donna Lieberman Public defense attorneys are often the only thing standing between poor, vulnerable New Yorkers facing criminal charges and the series of misfortunes they suffer if they're wrongfully stuck in jail — unemployment, homelessness, losing their kids, not to mention the loss of freedom itself. But across most of New York state, well-intentioned defense attorneys are too often prevented from adequately representing their clients, creating a two-tiered system of justice in which the poor are second-class.

Sep
18
2014
Op-Ed: New York State is at Fault for Onondaga County's Wrecked Public Defense System (Syracuse Post-Standard)

By Donna Lieberman This fall, New York state is going on trial for its failure to provide legal services to poor people accused of crimes. It will be the first trial of its kind in the nation. The lawsuit, Hurrell-Harring v. New York, brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union and our co-counsel at Schulte, Roth and Zabel LLP, has been ongoing for seven years. But the state's failure to provide public defense has been ongoing for 50 years. It is finally time for change.

Aug
8
2014
Op-Ed: Bratton’s Hiding Broken-Windows Data (NY Daily News)

by Donna Lieberman The death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD gave New Yorkers a rare peek into the grim reality of broken windows policing. To echo the Aug. 4 Daily News cover, the NYPD’s broken windows policing strategy is beyond broken. We can tell that much from the numbers that are available — which reveal profound racial skewing in enforcement of minor crimes. But how much deeper does the problem go? The truth is, we don’t really know, and that’s a crime of its own.

Aug
8
2014
Column: Is the Supreme Court Living in the 18th or 21st Century? (New York Law Journal)

by Christopher Dunn The role that colonial practices should play in constitutional jurisprudence has long been debated, with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia serving as the most prominent supporter of the view that the guarantees of the Bill of Rights must be grounded in the original intentions of the “Founding Fathers.” Yet, with nearly 250 years separating contemporary American society from the Declaration of Independence, the tenuousness of this position becomes increasingly evident.

Jul
2
2014
Op-Ed: NY Should Defend the Defenseless (Albany Times Union)

By Corey Stoughton With the state facing a trial this fall over its shameful neglect of poor criminal defendants, New York's counties, fed up with bearing an impossible burden, are increasing the pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to fix the broken public defense system.

Jun
5
2014
Op-Ed: The Real “Orange Is the New Black” Prison is an Inhumane Dump (Salon.com)

by Donna Lieberman “Orange Is the New Black” does a remarkable job bringing to life the human struggles real people experience behind bars. But some things are too nasty and inhumane for television.

May
16
2014
Op-Ed: 60 Years After Brown: New York is the New Mississippi (Albany Times Union)

By Donna Lieberman Sixty years ago this Saturday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education declaring racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. Yet equal education for all children in New York remains a dream deferred.

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