Rebecca J. Kavanagh Profile picture
Oct 6, 2018 27 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN: Poised to work Saturday night arraignments, 5PM to 1AM, representing poor New Yorkers arrested in the last 24 hours. I’m the felony conflicts attorney and have the pleasure of working with my @BklynDefender colleagues.
I say “arrested in the last 24 hours” and people have a legal right to be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest, but many people wait much longer.
The reason there are excessive delays tonight is b/c there's an issue w/ fingerprinting in central booking. When I arrive the courtroom is empty, but for some @CourtWatchNYC volunteers. I say hi & tell them about the problem, b/c I don't want them to be waiting for nothing.
It turns out they were here for day court & they ask me if I know the names of the prosecutors who were there then. I don't, but I say, hold on, I'll ask, ADA Jordan Rossman, who is the night court prosecutor.
I say, hey Jordan, can you tell me the names of the ADAs who were here today. He says, why do you want to know. I say, to give to the @CourtWatchNYC volunteers in the audience. He says, I am not giving you that information for that purpose. I say, you're kidding me.
I say, Jordan, that is a matter of public record. He says, get it from the clerk's office. I go back to the @CourtWatchNYC volunteers and make sure they have ADA Rossman's name with correct spelling.
I go back to ADA Rossman and say what was that about, & he says we put our appearances on the record, they should have taken it down then. I said, people in the audience can't hear. Then he says, they should have asked me themselves. I say, you would have told them, but not me?
He says, we'll never know will we? This whole exchange is so typical of what it is like to deal with prosecutors. ADAs like to make everything unnecessarily difficult, they treat everything as a game & they do not believe they are accountable to anyone.
I tell ADA Rossman he needs to read @CourtWatchNYC reports & that he is mentioned in a few. He says he will, but doesn't think non-lawyers criticisms of bail decisions are very helpful.
My colleague just picked up an Assault 2 case where client is elderly woman w/ Alzheimer's Disease. She is charged with throwing TV remote at her husband. He called 911 & prosecutor is asking for full stay away order of protection, meaning she cannot return home to live with him.
This is a felony charge w/ a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years in prison. The prosecutor is asking for bail. Even if the judge releases the client, she will have no where to go. The prosecutor calls the husband to see if he will agree to her coming home, but he won't.
My colleague reaches out to the Alzheimer's Association of NY & b/c of holiday weekend, nothing can be done to get services for the client until Tuesday, so she will be held in jail until at least then.
Pretty much everyone on the public defender side & the court staff are almost crying about this case. The woman is less than 100 pounds. She looks so frail. I don't know who made the decision to charge this as a felony - it's completely ridiculous.
The prosecutor won't give my colleague the husband's contact information so he can speak to him himself & the client can't remember it. This makes me mad. Prosecutors don't necessarily explain to complainants what it means to have a full order of protection.
I am sure it is incredibly difficult to live w/ someone w/ Alzheimer's disease. I am not sure the husband wants his wife on Rikers Island, which is where she will be until at least Tuesday. At the least the prosecutor could have called the husband in the presence of my colleague.
I don't know why when someone calls 911 in this situation, there is no protocol in place for police to do something other than arrest the person. Or if not police, the DA's office. At what point, does someone on that side stop & say, this is not a law enforcement issue.
On dinner break. Very strange to be working arraignments tonight after the #KavanaughConfirmation. Night court is always dismal. Feels especially so tonight.
A 17 year old comes through charged with murder for killing his mother's boyfriend. It sounds a horrible case, where the mother who has addiction issues was being abused by her boyfriend.
He is represented by a court-appointed attorney from the homicide panel. There are brilliant attorneys on this panel - this attorney is not one of them. I watch the attorney do a horrible pompous bail application & feel terrible that this is who will be representing this child.
I've seen this attorney do many bail applications, all of them are awful. He seems to be guided only by the idea that everything he says is interesting & valuable, when mostly he says nothing at all. He is peak White male entitlement. Ugh, I think of #Kavanaugh again.
Midnight. I’ve had three 12 ounce sugar-free Red Bull since 5. Debating number 4. This is the point of the night where we start prioritizing cases - interviewing people who we know are likely to get out.
One case involving 3 young people - prosecutor is consenting to release of all 3. The court-appointed White male defense attorney does not want to take one of the clients. He tells the court officer & the kid is taken back downstairs.
I say to him, you know these 3 kids are being released right. He says oh why didn't anyone tell me that (no one tells you this - you ask the prosecutor yourself). He says, oh well he can just wait till tomorrow. There is an hour to go, he has no cases. He can arraign the case.
He makes a whole bunch of excuses, so another attorney gets up, runs to make sure they can hold the client & then represents the client for arraignment purposes only.
I am just disgusted that someone can be so flippant about another person spending a night in jail, when they can so easily do something about it. This matters.
I don't know b/c he wasn't my client, but maybe he has never spent a night in jail. Even if he has, each night is more trauma. What about his work? There are countless family members in the audience for the three young men. I just stare hard at this defense attorney.
This is my last case. I leave the courthouse exhausted & angry at this confluence of peak White male entitlement - the pompous defense attorney & Judge #Kavanaugh - & walk home in the early hours of this crisp Fall New York City Sunday morning.

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More from @DrRJKavanagh

Sep 28, 2018
Before he was accused of sexual assault, I looked at #BrettKavanaugh & I saw the face of an alcoholic. My father was a severe alcoholic. Today - the sporadic moments of belligerence then outpouring of emotion, the victim mentality, denial, all of it - it couldn't be clearer.
My father died from complications resulting from alcoholism. For a long time, I had been angry w/ him. It was only when he died that I appreciated this was an addiction over which he had no control, so I do not mean this as judgment of people who struggle w/ alcohol addiction.
People w/ alcohol addiction often have two faces - one they present to the world, one they present to their families. So it is no surprise that Judge #Kavanaugh would have so many of his colleagues & others attest to his character & fitness to serve on the Supreme Court.
Read 7 tweets
Sep 2, 2018
CRIMINAL COURT, DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN. I'm working arraignments first night of Labor Day weekend. Also day one of @NYCMayor's super hyped new marijuana policy, where most people are not supposed to get arrested for possession of small amounts of weed. Let's see how that plays out.
Seems like a lot of people don't realize you may not get arrested, but you will get a summons, & the summons will be for the exact same charge. You still have to appear in court, just summons court. This doesn't address racial disparity at all, at most it changes the venue.
So far no weed cases have come through, but that's because hardly any cases have come through. That's because a lot of police are on vacation through Sunday & so there have been very few arrests. Arrest numbers are always directly proportional to the number of cops on the street.
Read 13 tweets
Jun 16, 2018
NIGHT COURT: About to stand on case where my 19 year old client & his girlfriend were jumped by 4 people all older than them. My client has bruises & a stab wound. But he’s charged w/ assault. The reason: the people who jumped him called the cops first. It really is that simple.
This is so common. Even when then there is so much evidence to the contrary. For instance, the people who jumped my client came to his building. They had no visible injuries. The police didn’t even ask my client what happened. It honestly feels crazy at times.
Police often make decisions as to who to arrest in assault cases based on very random factors rather than careful consideration of the evidence. For instance, when one person has an order of protection, they will arrest the other.
Read 24 tweets
Mar 18, 2018
1. In arraignments in Brooklyn court last night, first client I arraign is teenager charged w/ stealing small amount of candy incl. apple green gummies & milky way bar w/ his friend from 7 Eleven next door to their school. Attaching the (redacted) criminal complaint here.
2. He is 17 but charged as an adult. The police have the option to give him a desk appearance ticket (DAT) to allow him to come back to court rather than put him through the system. They don't. He is held for almost two days in a cell with adults some charged w/ serious crimes.
3. The prosecutor had the option to decline to prosecute the case. They don't. The complainant of course didn't have to bring the charges. The 7 Eleven is located next to a school. Children steal from the store all the time.
Read 13 tweets

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