Projects, Units & Initiatives
The expansive reach of The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice runs from its dynamic advocacy of clients in court to its presence and partnership in communities. As the primary public defender in New York City, staff zealously and tirelessly work to protect the rights of the most marginalized and disenfranchised in society. Yet our scope, as the country’s oldest and largest public defender, goes beyond any single case or client. Our community engagement, impact litigation, and broader advocacy consistently strive for increased fairness and humanity in the criminal justice system and seeks to reduce the devastating and permanent consequences of system involvement for our clients.
The Practice includes experienced trial offices in every borough, a Criminal Appeals Bureau, a Parole Revocation Defense Unit, a Prisoners’ Rights Project, a Community Justice Unit, a Homicide Unit and a Special Litigation Unit. In each area, the Practice has developed innovative model projects that garner expertise and push both the practice and discourse of criminal justice forward. Innovations such as The Exploitation Intervention Project, Adolescent Defense, The Decarceration Project and The Women’s Pretrial Release Initiative are just a few of the wrap-around services we provide each and every client. In the past year, the Practice represented nearly 200,000 clients in trial, appellate, and post-conviction matters and have pushed for critical reforms that end injustice and discrimination based on race, gender and poverty.
Our staff tackles every issue confronting our clients, pressing on questions like the validity of eyewitness identification and the need for access to police disciplinary records. The Practice’s units devoted to DNA and digital forensics evidence and litigation apply the latest advances in order to challenge the government and secure evidence essential to the defense of our clients. We elicit narratives that often include compelling stories of innocence and false accusations, a fuller development of the facts, and critical context. The results are dismissals, acquittals and reversals and even exonerations of those wrongfully convicted.
The Legal Society offers its CDP staff a unique, rigorous, and comprehensive training program that is widely regarded as among the best in the country. Our clients deserve no less.
As the City’s primary public defender, we believe advocacy must not only take place in the courtroom, but in the communities where our clients live and work. Everyday our defenders are engaging clients, community members and advocacy groups helping to amplify the voices of people affected by a broken criminal justice system.
Practice members regularly testify before lawmakers and government agencies to comment on proposed legislation and provide insight on issues affecting our clients. The advocacy has led to important legislative victories. The Criminal Practice provides, in each forum, a critical and frequently overlooked voice, highlighting where reform is necessary.
If you or someone you know has been arrested or needs information about their case, please call or visit one of our borough-based trial offices:
260 E. 161st Street Bronx, New York 10451
111 Livingston Street Brooklyn, NY 11201, 9th Floor
49 Thomas Street New York, NY 10013
120-46 Queens Boulevard Kew Gardens, NY 11415
60 Bay Street Staten Island, NY 10301
Phone (347) 422-5333 Fax: (718) 816-0870
Last Updated: 16 January 2020
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