May 8, 2014
THE CASE FOR HUMANITY
The Legal Aid Society, the nation's oldest and largest not-for-profit legal services organization, is more than a law firm for low-income clients. It is an indispensable component of the legal, social, and economic fabric of New York City - passionately advocating for low-income individuals and families across a variety of civil, criminal and juvenile rights matters, while also fighting for legal reform. Through a network of borough, neighborhood, and courthouse offices in 26 locations in New York City, the Society provides comprehensive legal services in all five boroughs of New York City for clients who cannot afford to pay for private counsel.Annually, the Society handles some 300,000 cases and legal matters for clients and its law reform work benefits some two million low-income families and individuals in New York City and the landmark rulings in many of these cases have a State-wide and national impact. The Legal Aid Society takes on more cases for more clients than any other legal services organization in the United States. And it brings a depth and breadth of perspective that is unmatched in the legal profession. The Legal Aid Society's unique value is an ability to go beyond any one case to create more equitable outcomes for individuals and broader, more powerful systemic change for society as a whole.
Legal Aid in the News
Lawsuit Filed To Prevent Closing Of Brooklyn Assisted-Living Home Leaving 120 Seniors At Risk Of Homelessness
A lawsuit was filed in State Supreme Court in Kings County to
prevent the closing of the Prospect Park Residence, an assisted-living
facility in Brooklyn which is home to 120 Seniors. Lawyers from The Legal
Aid Society, MFY Legal Services, Inc.; and the law firm of Fitzpatrick,
Cella, Harper & Scinto are representing seven of the residents.
Plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining
Council Member Brad Lander, who has been leading the fight
for the seniors at Prospect Park Residence, said:
is a vital step in protecting 120 of our elderly neighbors from cruel and
heartless evictions, announced with just 90 days notice from the NYS
Department of Health. We stand with these residents and their families
against this immoral act. An enormous human toll has already been taken as
a result of the pending closure. I am proud to be part of the legal action
to reverse the closure decision, and to ensure that the owner and NYS
Department of Health live up to their obligations to the full measure of
the law. Thanks to Legal Aid and the rest of the legal team for bringing
this pro-bono lawsuit in support of our neighbors."
the lawsuit are Haysha Deitsch, the landlord, and the State Health
Department, which accepted the landlord's proposal to close the facility
after he submitted a closing plan relinquishing a conditional
assisted-living facility license.
United States Senator Charles
Schumer has sent a letter to the State Health Department requesting that
the decision to close PPR be reconsidered and that levels of service be
monitored. The letter says in part: "The Prospect Park Residence announced
closure on March 5, 2014, giving 122 elderly residents just 90 days-notice
to find a new home. Residents and their families and loved ones are very
concerned about maintaining an adequate level of services within the
building, starting now, but especially after the 90-day period ends. A
thorough examination of the impacts and soundness of this proposal
strongly argues that the DOH reconsider the closure decision and strongly
monitor levels of service are maintained far beyond the 90-day period. DOH
must also enforce requirements of the plan for Prospect Park Residence to
assist residents individually in the relocation process and provide
packing and inventory services."
"The plan is completely pro
forma, and what the Department of Health did was basically rubber-stamp
it, "Judith Goldiner, the Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Reform Unit,
told the New York Times. Affidavits from the relatives and families of
residents point out that Prospect Park Residence is considered "home" to
the elderly residents. The daughter of an 89-year-old resident said that
"any move will be extremely traumatic for my mother and will sever her
ties to important services and support groups." The daughter of a
96-year-old Holocaust survivor wrote that "my father loves living at
Prospect Park Residence because of the activities and the neighborhood."
Aurore DeCarlo, Attorney in Charge, Brooklyn Office for the Aging,
said that " The Department of Health is aware that there are almost no
available places for the elderly and disabled residents of the Prospect
Park Residence. Yet in violation of its own rules and state law, DOH
summarily approved an improper closure plan and has failed provide any
meaningful oversight to ensure compliance with minimal requirements of the
closure process. Meanwhile, the landlord is forcing the elderly and
disabled residents to move to alternative residences which don't meet
their needs, and is causing the departure of essential health aides and
the reduction of necessary services. All in pursuit of an opportunity to
convert the building into luxury housing. Our lawsuit seeks to remedy the
landlord and DOH's illegal actions and to preserve the health, well-being,
safety, and dignity of these vulnerable residents."
handling the case include: (The Legal Aid Society) Aurore DeCarlo, Susan
Edelstein, Judith Goldiner, Adriene Holder, Justin Lim, Rebecca Novick,
Kimberly Skadden, and Liliana Vaamonde; (MFY LEGAL SERVICES, INC.)
Jeanette Zelhof, Lisa Collins and Kevin M. Cremin ; and (Fitzpatrick,
Cella, Harper & Scinto) Donald J. Curry, Jason E. Johnso, Laura A.
Bayne, and Dominick P. DiSabatino.
Legal Aid and Davis Polk Help Free Robert
Hill After 28 Years In
Prison For A Crime He Did Not Commit; First Scarcella Victim To Be Freed
After a year-long investigation by The Legal Aid Society and the
law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell, Robert Hill had his conviction for
second-degree murder vacated and he was freed after 28 years of
The Brooklyn District Attorney agreed with the
defense that the conviction, for which Mr. Hill had originally been
sentenced to life imprisonment, lacked integrity, because it depended on
the testimony of an unreliable witness, Theresa Gomez.
now deceased, claimed to have witnessed at least six homicides in Brooklyn
in the course of a short period of time. She worked with now-discredited
retired detective Louis Scarcella. After questions about Detective
Scarcella and Ms. Gomez were raised by The New York Times in May 2013, the
District Attorney's Integrity Review Unit agreed to review the work of the
retired detective. As a result of its reinvestigation, the District
Attorney also dismissed all charges against two of Mr. Hill's brothers,
one of whom died in prison, who were also convicted based on Ms. Gomez's
testimony, in an unrelated homicide.
While lawyers for the
defendants knew that the Conviction Review Unit was examining their cases,
they were surprised by how quickly the decision to exonerate their clients
had come, said Harold Ferguson, a Legal Aid lawyer who was on Mr. Hill's
legal team. The lawyers received a phone call on Sunday from an assistant
district attorney in the review unit, and they called Mr. Hill on Monday
to give him the news.
Legal Aid Lawyers Provide Know Your Rights
Sessions Throughout The City For Law Day
Legal Aid Lawyers
provided Know Your Rights sessions in all five boroughs to celebrate Law
Day. They answered questions from
New Yorkers and distributed Know
Your Rights brochures.
In 2013, more than 155,000 Know Your Rights
brochures were distributed to residents throughout the City.
Shooting Victims Handcuffed And Shackled For Minor
Warrants; NYPD To Review Procedure; Seymour James Calls Procedure
New York Times ran a story today interview gunshot victims who were
handcuffed and shackled for as long as two weeks for outstanding minor
"It's particularly egregious where they have minor
offenses," said Seymour W. James Jr., Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal
Practice of The Legal Aid Society which represents many of the
hospitalized prisoners. "They consider everybody who has a warrant a
fugitive." The Society's Anti Gun Violence Unit represents two of the
victims in the story.
Susan Gibson O'Gara Retired After 31 Years Of Service
Susan Gibson O'Gara, Supervising Attorney in the Queens Neighborhood Office, retired in March after 31 years of service to The Legal Aid Society and its clients. A retirement party was held in the Queens Borough Hall with Legal Aid staff, elected officials, and members of the community.
|The Legal Aid Society
Newsletter is written and edited by Pat Bath, Director of
with technical assistance from Jason Smallwood, Web
|© 2014 The Legal Aid Society | 199 Water Street,
New York, NY 10038 | www.legal-aid.org