December 21, 2012
An article in today’s New York Law Journal examines the disposition of felony cases across the five boroughs of New York City and finds that “state data indicates that whether a felony case goes to trial, whether there is a conviction, whether the offender goes to state prison, whether the case is dismissed and whether the case is even prosecuted may hinge largely on where the crime occurred.”
In the Bronx, they found that defendants in jury trials have “about even odds” of getting acquitted, which was the highest rate among the five boroughs.The article cites Professor Steven Zeidman on a study several years ago that showed that the disparity in the Bronx “evaporates” when police testimony is not central to the case.
“The fact that the acquittal rates are higher in the Bronx is because more people living in the Bronx and serving as Bronx jurors have experienced more police misconduct than people living in any other borough and they carry that experience into the jury room, especially in cases where they are asked to consider whether a particular police officer was honest and truthful,” Zeidman said.
Zeidman is a professor and director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at CUNY Law. He advocates on behalf of indigent defendants in many venues, including as a member of the Indigent Defense Organization Oversight Committee. He presently serves on the Board of Directors of Prisoners’ Legal Services and has also served on several statewide commissions, including the Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense Services and the Jury Project.