NYSBA Task Force on Racial Injustice and Police Reform Holds Second Hearing Today

By Christian Nolan

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The New York State Bar Association Task Force on Racial Injustice and Police Reform will hold its second of three public forums from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. today.

The second forum focuses on the often circuitous and complex criminal justice process that must be navigated by alleged offenders. The panelists bring a wealth of experience and expertise to this issue.

Panelists include:

Don Kamin, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who has held a variety of positions at the interface of the mental health and criminal justice systems. A former police academy instructor, he is the director of the Institute for Police, Mental Health and Community Collaboration in Rochester. He has worked in many states and recently conducted training for the Liberian National Police Force in Liberia, West Africa.

Lucy Lang most recently served as director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she worked with prosecutors, police, and families who lost loved ones to police violence to develop national protocols for police accountability. Lang previously served as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan where she investigated and prosecuted homicides, domestic violence and gun crimes and served as special counsel for policy and projects, creating a college-in-prison course to develop innovative criminal justice policy. She has spent the past three years teaching that class in New York State prisons.

Maritza Ming, assistant district attorney (ADA), was promoted to chief of staff in 2018 and is a key adviser to District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. She manages many of the day-to-day operations of the agency, including hiring, communications, diversity, human resources, fiscal matters, staffing assignments and supervision, as well as detective investigators. She joined the Brooklyn DA’s office in 1997 and has been a valued ADA during her career in the office, including serving as counsel to the district attorney, chief of the Immigrant Affairs Unit, deputy chief of the Early Case Assessment Bureau and as an ADA in the Grey Zone and Domestic Violence Bureau.

Jose Perez has been LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s (Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund) legal director since September 2007 and has been the lead lawyer in a number of LatinoJustice’s precedent-setting immigrants’ rights cases. Perez is a graduate of St. John’s University School of Law and began his legal career with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office. He also served in NYCHA’s Anti-Narcotics Strike Force, the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights and Civil Divisions as a staff and supervising attorney, and at the New York State Attorney General’s Office as deputy chief of the Consumer Frauds & Protection Bureau.

Shannon Wong is the director of the Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Her experience with legislative advocacy contributed to the successful passage of paid family leave, public defense reform and bail reform in New York State. Additionally, Wong has been instrumental in the passage of local police reform efforts including the police identification bill known as the Right to Know Act.

The mission of NYSBA’s Task Force on Racial Injustice and Police Reform is to understand the issues that contribute to police brutality and provide recommendations to policymakers, law enforcement and the judiciary to end deleterious policing practices that disproportionately impact persons of color. The task force is chaired by NYSBA President-Elect T. Andrew Brown and Taa Grays, a former association vice president from the first judicial district. They will moderate today’s discussion.

The first forum held by the task force on Sept. 22 focused on the City of Rochester, which has been rocked by revelations regarding the death of Daniel Prude, a mentally ill Black man who died of suffocation in March after police officers placed his head in a “spit hood” and pressed his face into the pavement. His death was not disclosed to the public for five months, sparking widespread protests and condemnation. After video footage of the encounter was released, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired the police chief and the rest of the department’s highest-ranking officers either resigned or were demoted.

The task force is also soliciting written testimony in advance of the public forums. Please note – the final forum has been rescheduled from Oct. 5 to a later date.

To register for the forums, view the first forum or to find out more information about the task force, go to www.nysba.org/racialinjustice.

Comments or testimony must be submitted to [email protected] in advance of the hearing.

About the New York State Bar Association

The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

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Contact: Susan DeSantis
[email protected]
201-575-5756

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