Statement of Tina Luongo, the Attorney-in-Charge of The Criminal Practice of The Legal Aid Society
FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2016

In yesterday's airing of NBC I-Team reporter Chris Glorioso reported that the District Attorney of Queens, Richard Brown, blamed public defenders for the courts and judges closing early. We reject this blatant attempt to scapegoat our staff. Our dedicated public defenders always have been and always are ready to work until 1 a.m or after if need be. It is outrageous to question their advocacy for their clients.

As he knows, it is his staff's and his responsibility to prepare and process the evidence and paperwork that is used to officially charge someone that has been arrested. As he knows it is NYPD and the Courts personnel that control when we meet and arraign clients. And, as he knows we have all been engaged for over a year with the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice to improve issues of delay throughout the City and his staff have sat in meetings with us as we complained about the lack of trials, bail and long delays that create unfairness for our clients.

As New York City's oldest and largest public defender organization, we represent clients every day in every Criminal and Supreme Court in this City. Our hardworking, dedicated defenders and staff stand side by side with clients from the moment we meet them in arraignments to well after their case is over. In addition, we fight the systemic injustices that create unfairness. It was the Legal Aid Society that brought the case, decided in 1991, that fought the policy that permitted the police, Courts and prosecutors to let people languish in jail cells for days without being arraigned. In Re Maxian: Roundtree v Brown, 77 N.Y.2d 422, forced the police and Courts to arraign people within 24 hours of arrest.