Case #6 Reassigning Cases to Prosecutors with a Geographic Interest in a Particular Hot Spot
An 18-year-old defendant was arrested for holding a brick over another man’s head, as if he were going to strike him with it. The police had been unable to identify the intended victim of the assault because he ran away before the police could talk to him. Although there was an independent eyewitness, that witness indicated to the police that he was reluctant to testify against the defendant. This defendant had only previously been convicted for a minor marijuana possession crime, but he was in the Arrest Alert system’s database due to being a suspect in a shooting and for his East Harlem gang activity. This defendant had been arrested many times in the past, but most of his prior cases were dismissed due to the unwillingness of witnesses to testify against him. CSU received an arrest alert when this defendant was arrested and anticipated that this case could be seen as challenging, given the history of witness reluctance problems. CSU therefore, after receiving the arrest alert, asked the prosecutor who was assigned the case if she would transfer the case to a prosecutor who had a particular interest in the geographic area where the crime occurred and against the defendant, in particular. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office had formed “bureau-based projects” composed of prosecutors within the trial bureaus who focused on particular hot spots. CSU facilitated the transfer of this defendant’s case from a prosecutor who was randomly assigned that case to a member of the bureau-based project focused on that hotspot. While the case still presented difficulties in prosecuting it to the fullest extent of the law, the newly assigned prosecutor had a more aggressive approach to this defendant. Instead of dismissing the charges, the prosecutor was able to negotiate a plea where the defendant served three years of probation and received a “youthful offender” adjudication. Although this plea did not result in a criminal conviction, it documented the defendant’s involvement in criminal activity.