Criminal justice “reform” causing too much work – so prosecutors are dropping charges, letting criminals walk


NEW YORK CITY- The state of New York is a train wreck. The city of New York is a major train wreck. And the train wreck is about to get worse.

We have reported ad-nauseum about the criminal justice reforms that went into effect on Jan. 1, and the unintended (or maybe intended, who knows?) consequences of same.

We have seen a bank robbery suspect get arrested three times and released without bond.

We saw an anti-Semite get arrested three times in less than a week and released without bond each time.

That is until she pinched a social worker…then she got put in a psych ward.

Basically what we have seen is a city and a state out of control, where lawlessness pretty much rules the day.

It has gotten so bad that this past weekend, a man shot at a police van wounding an officer, and then the next morning went IN to a police precinct and started shooting, injuring a police lieutenant. Criminals have become emboldened.

One area that has flown under the radar for the most part is the new disclosure requirements.

Basically, what this entails is that the prosecution must present all evidence to defense attorneys within 15 days of an arrest. This includes evidence, names and addresses of victims and witnesses, including emergency responders, and access to the crime scene, among other things.

Across New York, district attorneys, as well as law enforcement officials and others have raised alarm bells about the disclosure requirement, complaining that it puts an undue (and unfunded) burden on police departments and district attorney’s offices to comply with this law.

In New York City, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has said that he is considering dropping criminal cases due to the substantial burden the law is putting on his office, according to WCBS in New York.

Employees at the DA’s office, numbering approximately 500 have been working late nights, weekends and holidays in an effort to meet the deadline.

“We are evaluating whether to defer or even decline prosecution in certain classes of cases,” Vance advised his staff in a Jan. 24 email. The email went out to approximately 500 assistant district attorneys who work in the office.

In speaking about the new laws, Vance said his office was “overwhelmed by paperwork” and what he calls the “unsustainable hours” that are required to comply with the new discovery rules.

According to CBS2 urban affairs expert Mark Peters, the new discovery rules are a major factor in Vance’s quandary.

“That’s a real public safety concern,” Peters said.

“Whenever you’ve got a situation where prosecutors feel like they need to start declining cases—not because they don’t have enough evidence, not because they’re not convinced of guilt, but simply because the burdens of discovery make it impossible to get the work done—that’s going to impact public safety.”

It is not just the time limit—15 days—that is causing the issue, but rather the specificity of what has to be turned over. There are 21 separate categories deemed favorable to the defense, including electronic recordings, 911 calls and witness statements.

“Every time that you use DNA evidence you’ve now got to turn over the qualifications of every single lab technician who touches the DNA, even though most of them are never going to testify at trial,” Peters said.

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The long hours and burdensome late nights have not just impacted the Manhattan DA’s office. The Brooklyn DA’s office has lost 25 people since the law went into effect on Jan. 1.

DA Vance has apparently offered $60 per diem payments to prosecutors who work past 9 p.m. or any weekend or holiday to get the paperwork done.

The New York legislature is apparently paying attention. Based on the numerous issues which have been raised statewide, Democrats in New York are promising to overhaul the law that is causing all the issues.

There has been a hue and cry since the law was put into effect and critics have included NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzales—ironically one of the most liberal prosecutors in the state—and even New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been the target of severe criticism from rank and file officers of the NYPD.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said of the proposal to overhaul the new law that it was “mission critical.”

“We want to give our prosecutors the ability to make effective cases,” he said. “Of course, when I hear the news that’s troubling.”

Kaminsky was referring in part to Vance’s proclamation that he may defer cases or decline to prosecute over the law.

Of course, all it takes is one fly in the ointment and in New York, that fly appears to be Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who has not been exactly Mach 2 with his hair on fire to fix the issue.

“I can’t say what we will do, won’t do, look at, won’t look at until I know how the law is working. I have to grade the exam before I can determine where we have to look.”

Has this guy been sleeping under a rock? The criminal justice system in New York is an unmitigated disaster. Grade the exam? How about you open your eyes?

The overhaul proposal was raised in the Senate, which led to rumors that Heastie was upset with Senate Majority Andrea Stewart Cousins, who made the overhaul public news.

“There’s gonna be days when the governor’s gonna disagree with me. There’s gonna be days when Andrea disagrees with me,” he said. “We have to continue to do our jobs.”

Of course, the usual left-wing suspects are not happy that the Senate is proposing an overhaul of the system, claiming that it puts “politics over people.”

We would argue that it puts common sense over emotion. The groups claim that if the overhauls are enacted, it would significantly increase the number of people who are incarcerated pending trial who are presumed innocent.

Gov. Cuomo, no doubt with his finger in the air to see which way the political winds are blowing, is said to support the plan raised in the Senate, saying he proposed the same thing last year.

Clearly, the experiment is not working.  Something needs to be done…and soon. 

Look at what happened just last week.

A man who police say was the victim of a beating at the hands of MS-13 members in 2018 was found dead in New Cassel.

Police identified Wilmer Maldonado Rodriguez, 36, as the man found dead behind an abandoned home on Broadway last Sunday.

Police say Rodriguez was one of three victims of a gang assault over a year ago. According to the Nassau District Attorney’s Office, Rodriguez was protecting someone who was being bullied in 2018 when he was beaten and stabbed by MS-13 gang members known to police as the “Gang of Nine.”

Rodriguez was a witness set to testify in a 2018 MS-13 assault case, according to police.

The DA’s office says as a result of the investigation into that case, nine MS-13 members were arrested for assault and witness intimidation. They are still behind bars.

Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder says the DA’s office had a hearing regarding the case going to trial in December of last year. He says at that hearing, it was decided that all information that had a protective hold on it would have to be turned over to the defense counsel days later. This included witness names and contact information.

“We don’t know if the defense counsel turned that information over to the defendants, but we do know that right after that time period, we started this pattern of intimidation,” says Ryder.

Man set to testify against MS-13 found murdered after New York demands witness list be given to defense

Ryder says on Jan. 30, one of the other witnesses was shot at. Two days later, he says Rodriguez was beaten but escaped. He was found dead the following day.

In relation to the case, Ryder said at a news conference that “common sense reform decisions need to happen now.”

Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at a news conference that he blames the new bail reform law for the 36-year-old’s death. He says under the law, prosecutors must turn over all evidence against a defendant within 15 days of arraignment – including the identities of all witnesses and victims.

“We had a protective order that the DA put in place for over a year to protect that information, to protect our victims. That’s what we do,” says Ryder. “That protective order, because of the new changes in law, was lifted.”

In this case, Ryder says, as soon as Maldonado Rodriguez’s named was turned over to the defense team, he was found dead.

Ryder later released a statement, saying:

“As I indicted at my press conference there is no direct link between the death of Wilmer Maldonado Rodriguez and criminal justice reform. The information and facts of the case that I provided are accurate.”

In this case, Ryder says, as soon as Maldonado Rodriguez’s named was turned over to the defense team, he was found dead.

“The system failed. The system failed, this man is dead,” Ryder said.

The commissioner says since the new law took effect major crime has increased by 5%. He is pleading with lawmakers to make changes to the law before someone else dies.

“Justice reform is not taking care of our victims,” he stressed.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement that she will be asking Albany to enact changes.

“I am calling on Albany to take corrective action to fix criminal justice reform immediately. These new discovery requirements pose a threat to both the victims and witnesses of crimes,” she wrote.

Ryder is fortunate that his crime has only increased 5%. 28 miles away from New Cassel, in New York City, serious crimes are at a 5-year high.

Ask the NYPD, and you’ll get a straight answer.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon to figure this one out. There is one core reason why this number has escalated. And it is bail reform.  According to department data, there is an ongoing spike that officials attribute to the state’s new bail reform law.

The latest Compstat data, which covers the time frame from January 1st through the end of the month, shows that total overall serious felonies — such as homicide, burglary, robbery and auto theft — are up 16.4% over the same period in 2019. The increase is 6% when compared to 2015, the data shows.

Crime in the city had been on the decline in the past few years.

Now, NYC is seeing double digit increases in burglaries, grand larcenies and auto theft, the latter up 70% over 2019 for the January reporting period, while robberies and felonious assaults saw single digit increases. The data does show that homicides are down nearly 20%, while rapes decreased by 18%.

But those numbers do not reflect the legitimacy of the increase of overall crime in the city.

According to Newsday, serious felonies citywide continued to rise throughout the month. NYPD commissioner Dermot Shea is scheduled to talk about the overall upward trend Tuesday during his monthly crime briefing.

He is again expected to call on the legislature in Albany to tinker with the bail law, which took effect January 1st. The new law eliminates bail for most nonviolent crimes.

To reinforce Shea’s stance, NYPD officials are most likely to provide data that details the percentage of newly arrested suspects that were put back out on the street while not posting bail and walking away from an arrest and possible jail sentence.

Commissioner Shea spoke a few weeks ago with some alarm at the crime trends, which are affecting most areas of the city, particularly Queens and northern Manhattan.

“You are seeing the affects in a very quick time and that is why we are so concerned,” Shea said at the time.

Advocates of bail reform have been pushing back at Shea’s remarks, calling them asinine and thoughtless.

“From day one, law enforcement has been intent on erasing the progress we’ve made through fear mongering that distorts the impact of the laws,” said Nick Encalada-Malinowski.

He’s the civil rights campaign director of the justice advocacy group Vocal-NY.  He said in a recent statement:

“…threatening to take us back to a racist and unequal system that preyed upon Black, Brown and low income communities.”

Shea has said that he is a fan of bail reform, even doing away with bail altogether, but wants state judges to have the capability to set bail conditions based on a danger level to the community. With federal judges, they can set bail conditions, but their New York State counterparts are not allowed under the new state law.

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