By John O’Hara, Esq.
The April 10 open letter to Queens residents, (“Queens DA Responds to Criticism”) from acting District Attorney John Ryan was a first.
Ryan gratuitously decided to lecture some of the candidates running to replace outgoing District Attorney Richard Brown on how they should characterize the accomplishments of his office. I have never seen an acting DA criticize the way candidates communicate with the voters. Never. And I was around for the last race for Queens DA in 1977.
Ryan opines with a laundry list of nice sounding programs while calling his office “the best in the state.”
The fact is that out of the 62 counties in New York State, the Queens DA’s office has the highest amount of reversals on appeal for prosecutorial misconduct.
That is not my opinion. Under DA Richard Brown, the undisputed fact from our Appellate Courts is Queens is # 1 in prosecutorial misconduct. Ryan did not say anything about that.
I know as a civil rights attorney with a focus on prosecutorial misconduct, it is extremely rare for an Appellate Court to reverse a conviction based on a prosecutor’s misconduct.
Under Brown, over 107 convictions have been overturned, with over 25 cases resulting in Appellate Courts exonerating the wrongly convicted. Misconduct in the Queens DA’s office is not the exception, it is procedure. DA Brown has never disciplined an assistant for misconduct, instead, he promotes them. Over 98 percent of Brown’s cases are the result of plea bargaining. So for every reversal on appeal there are hundreds of other cases of misconduct that no one will ever hear about. Thousands of lives have been destroyed by government functionaries like Ryan. Brown’s legacy of disgrace has gone under the radar. Until now.
On June 25th the voters have a chance to change everything. While most of the candidates for DA begin by saying “Judge Brown has a long and distinguished record…” Tiffany Cabán does not. Tiffany has identified the metrics of a failed criminal justice system and now the voters have a real choice. A new Sheriff is coming to town and her name is Tiffany Cabán.
John O’Hara is an attorney.
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