Stroock Hosts New York City’s Five Borough District Attorneys
New York City, June 17, 2014 – Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP hosted the District Attorneys from all five New York City Boroughs in a Government Leadership Forum today at the law firm’s New York office.
Richard Brown, Queens County; Daniel M. Donovan Jr., Richmond County, Staten Island; Robert Johnson, Bronx County; Kenneth P. Thompson, Kings County, Brooklyn; and Cyrus R. Vance Jr., New York Country participated in a discussion of their priorities and the challenges they face.
Robert Abrams, former New York State Attorney General and Chair of Stroock’s Government Relations Practice, and Joel Cohen, Stroock Of Counsel, moderated the program. Stroock Special Counsel Jerry H. Goldfeder introduced the program.
“This was a rare opportunity to hear firsthand the priorities of each of the five District Attorneys in NYC concerning their effort to make New York a safer city,” said Abrams.
The DAs agreed on many of the same challenges for their offices, including reducing gun violence, drug abuse and related crimes; working cooperatively with the New York Police Department as well as with state and federal courts; attracting and retaining the best talent for their offices; working closely with their communities; and combating cybercrime and identity theft.
The implementation of new stop-and-frisk laws elicited strong comments: Manhattan DA Vance said that, while “it’s an essential tool, it’s our job to encourage police to pursue stop-and-frisk constitutionally and legally.”
Brooklyn DA Thompson said that stop-and-frisk makes the community feel alienated. “We are one city and need one standard. We have to work with the community to find out who is carrying guns or drugs.”
Regarding term limits, there was consensus. “With term limits, valuable people are thrown out,” said Bronx DA Johnson, who added, “The media helps to monitor performance and it’s the voters who decide whether we keep people in office.”
Queens DA Brown said, “I have confidence in the electors.”
Four of the DAs – Vance, Johnson, Brown and Thompson – came out strongly against the death penalty, while Donovan said that while he had a legal obligation to uphold it, “The death penalty goes against my beliefs,” he said.
Donovan echoed his colleagues sentiments in noting, “We spend half our time on ethics issues.” Johnson provided an example of doing the right thing from his office: A witness had identified an individual in a lineup, and an assistant district attorney wanted to be sure, and asked the witness again, who this time replied, “Number four looks like him (the suspect) but it wasn’t him.”
One other issue on which the participants agreed strongly was mental health and the law. “All of us want to find alternatives to sentencing,” said Brown.
Today’s event was the 19th in a series hosted by Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP. Previous participants included the five New York City Borough Presidents; New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; and most recently, Janno Lieber, President of World Trade Center Properties LLC., and Joseph C. Daniels, President and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
The forum was sponsored by Stroock’s Government Relations group, which is comprised of former prosecutors, judges, and government agency officials. The practice is led by Robert Abrams, former New York State Attorney General and Chair of Stroock’s Government Relations Practice. Abrams also served as President of the National Association of Attorneys General, Executive Chair of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s Transition Committee and Honorary Co-Chair of Attorney General Schneiderman’s Transition Committee.
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP is a law firm providing transactional and litigation guidance to leading multinational corporations, investment banks and private equity firms in the U.S. and abroad. Stroock’s emphasis on client service and innovation has made it one of the nation’s leading law firms for 130 years. Stroock’s practice areas include capital markets/securities, commercial finance, mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures, private equity, private funds, derivatives and commodities, employment law and benefits, energy and project finance, entertainment, environmental law, financial restructuring, financial services litigation, insurance, intellectual property, investment management, litigation, personal client services, real estate, structured finance and tax. For more information, please visit Stroock’s website at www.stroock.com.