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Former Suffolk County Prosecutor Adam Foss explains the power of a D.A. during a TED Talk in 2016.

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What follows here is a tool for voters to rigorously vet candidates for district attorney according to a checklist of ideal progressive reform criteria. District attorneys enjoy the most discretionary power of any elected officials, they are often elected for life (the last time an insurgent DA candidate won in Suffolk County, MA was 1978), and they are essentially accountable to no one. Of all elected officials, therefore, it is imperative voters pressure district attorney candidates to commit in advance to specific reform and internal policies publicly, on the record, in writing, before they receive endorsements, campaign contributions, space for yard signs, and other material or moral support. This screening tool is meant to help voters secure as much proof as is practicably possible in advance that a candidate for D.A. will commit to boldly and unapologetically dismantling America's failed carceral paradigm and constructing in its place a data-driven structure that more effectively promotes public safety.

 

Learn more about what a district attorney does, and why it is so important +

https://dadifference.org/resources/

https://dadifference.org/2018/07/district-attorneys-racial-justice/

Learn more about Suffolk County, MA, the jurisdiction under evaluation, and the candidates vying for the Democratic primary nomination September 4, 2018 +

Suffolk County Information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffolk_County,_Massachusetts

https://dadifference.org/suffolk-county/

Official Candidate Websites

https://www.evandrocarvalho.com/

https://championforda.com/

https://www.greghenning.com/

https://www.mcauliffeforda.com/

https://rollins4da.com/

Editor’s notes and about the authors +

  • This is a trial version of the The Perfect D.A. candidate evaluation tool. The first race under consideration is Suffolk County, MA. For all future evaluations (pending funding and technical support), this tool will allow users to select their own substantive criteria from a dropdown box, assign their own preferred grading weights, and the tool will calculate the grades and candidate outcomes autmotically.
  • On July 8, 2018, Evandro Carvalho, Linda Champion, Shannon McAuliffe, and Rachael Rollins were sent a consolidated list of the follow-up questions in the Perfect D.A. Scorecard. Perfect D.A. staff reached out to the Henning campaign three times but received no response. The four candidates who responded were given until July 23, 2018 to answer the follow-up questions and improve their scores. Only Rachael Rollins returned completed answers by deadline.
  • Whenever possible, this evaluation tool examines candidates’ written answers. When written answers are unavailable, oral answers at forums, debates, and interviews may be used.
  • The evaluation uses a 4.0 grade point scale. All grade points are rounded up to the nearest hundredth.
  • All grades are subject to an equity adjustment. Any and all such adjustments will be flagged and thoroughly explained in the section where applied.
  • Lastly, the level of scrutiny applied here is far higher than a normal grading evaluation. The grading standard applied herein is intentionally rigorous. These are the people who will decide whether or not to put men, women, and children in jail -- or not -- and accordingly voters cannot presume good intentions or give candidates the benefit of the doubt. If the candidates offer vague answers, leave questions or portions of questions unanswered, or otherwise fail to explicitly commit to specific internal policies and systemic reform, they will be penalized harshly and given the opportunity to follow up with more information if they wish to improve their grades.
  • About the authors: Co-authors Leon Smith and Bobby Constantino have a combined two decades of experience in Suffolk County juvenile and adult criminal courts, and an additional seven years of experience in both local and national criminal justice policy reform.
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Moderator Meghan Irons asks a question at the Suffolk University Law School candidates forum, Thursday May 3, 2018.

 
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  • 131 of 151 lawyers (87%) in the Suffolk County D.A.’s office identify as white, though white people comprise only 27% of the individuals the D.A.'s office prosecutes

  • This results in a large gap in cultural competency and personal understanding of the challenges most defendants in Suffolk County face  

  • In order to close this gap, the next DA will need to hire prosecutors that reflect the racial, ethnic, and economic demographics of the individuals the Suffolk County DA’s office prosecutes

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JP Progressives Candidates Survey +

1 - How will you increase hiring of people of color so that employees are closer to representing the racial and economic backgrounds of Suffolk County?

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions +

1 - Does the candidate pledge to hire and fire immediately, or as soon as is practicable, until her/his staff corresponds to the racial, ethnic, and economic demographics of Suffolk County? What is the candidate’s proposed start date to begin this process? (.75 grade points)

2 - More importantly, does the candidate pledge to hire and fire immediately, or as soon as is practicable, until her/his staff corresponds to the racial, ethnic, and economic demographics of the individuals the DA’s office prosecutes? What is the candidate’s proposed start date to begin this process? (1 grade point)

3 - Does the candidate acknowledge that race, ethnicity, and economic status alone are insufficient to ensure fair, effective prosecutorial decision-making? What additional training and screening criteria will the candidate implement to ensure that s/he is retaining and hiring the right people? (1 grade point)

4 - In order to make prosecutors reflective of the racial, ethnic, and economic demographics of the individuals the Suffolk County DA’s office prosecutes, the next DA will have to fire 90 white attorneys and in their place hire 46 black attorneys, 20 Hispanic attorneys, and 24 Asian attorneys. In order to keep office operations running smoothly, and anticipating significant pushback from existing staff, what is the candidate’s proposed end date to accomplish this? (.25 grade points)

5 - How does the candidate plan to recruit and retain 90 quality attorneys of color when the office has the lowest per capita starting salaries in the country and a long history of disproportionately targeting communities of color? (1 grade point)

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Evandro Carvalho’s Response +

JP Progressives Candidates Survey:

1 - “Our DA’s Office should reflect the constituents it represents. As District Attorney, I promise to recruit and promote women and people of color. As a former ADA, I know how important it is to have prosecutors from the communities they are working in. I will work with the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, NAACP Boston, Women’s Bar Association, various law schools, and others to recruit more diversity into the office. I live in Dorchester and work community groups and advocates locally that can support the recruitment of more diversity from each neighborhood in Boston.”

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions:

N/A Candidate did not answer by deadline.

Grade Point Deductions:

(-.25) Candidate commits to hiring staff reflective of county demographics, but does not commit to specific numbers or a date certain to begin the process

(-1.0) No mention of staff reflecting individuals DA’s office prosecutes

(-.75) Candidate mentions how important it is to have staff from the communities they are working in but does not mention that this does not guarantee matching worldview and understanding and does not mention how to vet staff accordingly

(-.25) No stated commitment to end date of hiring staff reflective of individuals the office prosecutes

(-.75) Candidate mentions working with community groups but does not propose how to overcome structural impediments of how to recruit and retain quality attorneys given low starting salary and historical reputation of office’s hostility towards communities of color

Grade: D (4.0 - 3.0 = 1.0)

Grade Points for this Section: 1.0 x 15% = .15

Linda Champion’s Response +

JP Progressives Candidates Survey:

“We have to encourage diversity in the office and will work with law schools so they can include racial and bias trainings. Recruitment of qualified competent ADAs are essential to the success of the office. The recruitment must include notifying local organizations like the Urban League of all openings and vacancies. We have to recruit diverse attorneys and paraprofessionals that will bring the richness of their own life experience and bring cultural enrichment to the office and languages which reflect the population that we serve.”

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions:

N/A Candidate did not answer by deadline.

Grade Point Deductions:

(-.5) Candidate mentions hiring diverse staff, but does not commit to a staff that reflects Suffolk County, specific numbers, or a date certain to begin the process

(-.5) Candidate mentions hiring staff reflecting the population the DA’s office serves, but does not commit to specific numbers or a date to begin process

(-1.0) No mention of how to vet staff to insure matching worldview and understanding of issues faced by residents of the neighborhoods disproportionately targeted by system

(-.25) No stated commitment to end date of hiring staff reflective of individuals the office prosecutes

(-.75) Mentions importance of recruiting and retaining quality attorneys but does not mention how to accomplish this

Grade: D (4.0 – 3.0 = 1.0)

Grade Points for this Section: 1.0 x 15% = .15

Greg Henning’s Response +

JP Progressives Candidates Survey:

1 - “We need to change the way we go about hiring people in our office. If elected, I would make the hiring process a more proactive endeavor. I would recruit in the same manner that a large law firm or a Fortune 500 company engages in recruitment. Rather than sitting back and hoping that the applicants reflect a diverse group of people, I would go out and find those top lawyers of color to bring to our office. I would also actively seek the input of community organizations, stakeholders, and advocacy groups in Suffolk County to direct qualified candidates to the office who might otherwise not be identified for the hiring process.

Ultimately, the legislature must become involved in making this priority a reality. Right now, Massachusetts ranks dead last in starting salary for assistant district attorneys. These salaries are not even close to competitive, and it causes otherwise ideal candidates representing our community to choose other positions or career paths. Young lawyers and staffers should not be forced to choose between paying their rent and serving their community. This is an important job, and the compensation should reflect that work to aid the recruitment process.”

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions:

N/A Candidate did not answer by deadline.

Grade Point Deductions:

(-.50) Candidate commits to hiring diverse staff, but does not commit to a date certain to begin the process, and does not specifically commit to a staff that reflects the racial, ethnic, and economic demographics of Suffolk County

(-1.0) No mention of staff reflecting individuals the DA’s office prosecutes

(-1.0) No mention of how to vet staff to insure matching worldview and understanding of issues faced by residents of the neighborhoods disproportionately targeted by system

(-.25) No stated commitment to end date of hiring staff reflective of individuals the office prosecutes

(-.50) Mentions importance of recruiting and retaining quality attorneys, and identifies one of the structural impediments, but does not propose any plan or ideas to overcome this impediment

Grade: D- (4.0 – 3.25 = .75)

Equity Adjustment: -2.5^

Adjusted Grade: .75 – 2.5 = -1.75

Grade Points for this Section: -1.75 x 15% = -.26

^The candidate received an equity adjustment of -2.0 because white males have been structurally and historically overrepresented in the Suffolk County DA’s Office for as long as the office has existed. The solution to there being too many white males in the office is not to add another white male to the office’s top leadership. The solution is to fire white males until they represent their share of white male defendants prosecuted by the office as soon as practicably possible. The candidate also utilized a well-documented historical racial wealth inequity to personal advantage, for an additional -0.5 points, resulting in a total equity adjustment of -2.5.

Shannon McAuliffe’s Response +

JP Progressives Candidates Survey:

1 - “At Roca, I built a management team with 75% people of color and frontline staff comprised of 60% people of color. At a minimum, the DA’s office should reflect the diversity of Suffolk County at 40% people of color. I will achieve that baseline by not only hiring people of color but by also truly reexamining what the traditional system thinks makes a “good prosecutor,” filtering out the deep structural racism that informs that idea. This DA’s office also has an incredibly high turnover of lawyers of color. We must invest, train, mentor, challenge and promote people of color so that they stay, grow and become the mentors to a new generation. People don’t leave jobs, they often leave bad environments and managers.

We also have a fundamental inspiration problem and will need to partner with communities, colleges and law schools to inspire more people of color to become prosecutors. We do this first by changing the culture of the office from a scorecard mentality to prosecuting smartly and with a deeper understanding of how those inequalities often work as a thumb on the scales of justice. In addition, the DA’s office must reach into the community to educate all about the true power of the prosecutor above and beyond the traditional “lock them up and throw away the key” mentality. Be present not just when a crime has occurred but when the community is celebrating its beauty. Lastly, treating victims, witnesses and defendants with fairness and respect will attract those living in the communities most affected to be closer to the solution. We do not have a problem with people of color wanting to be firefighters and nor should we have a problem with people of color wanting to be prosecutors.”

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions:

N/A Candidate did not answer by deadline.

Grade Point Deductions:

(-.25) Candidate specifically commits to hiring diverse staff matching county demographics, but does not commit to a date certain to begin the process

(-1.0) No mention of staff reflecting individuals the DA’s office prosecutes

(-.50) Candidate has excellent answer about filtering out deep structural racism, but does not give specifics how candidate plans to accomplish this during the hiring/training processes

(-.25) No stated commitment to end date of hiring staff reflective of individuals the office prosecutes

(-.75) Mentions importance of recruiting and retaining quality attorneys, and identifies several structural impediments, but does not propose any plan or ideas to overcome this or other more significant impediments, such as starting salary

Grade: D+ (4.0 – 2.75 = 1.25)

Equity Adjustment: -1.5^

Adjusted Grade: F (1.25 – 1.5 = -.25)

Grade Points for this Section: -0.25 x 15% = -.04

^The candidate received an equity adjustment of -1.0 because white lawyers have been overrepresented in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office for as long as the office has existed. However, because white women attorneys have been represented at a rate far less than white men, and historically excluded from key leadership positions, a smaller adjustment of -1.0 is appropriate. The candidate also used a well-documented historical racial wealth inequity to personal advantage, resulting in -0.5 points.

Rachael Rollins's Response +

JP Progressives Candidates Survey:

1 - “Under the current SCDAO administration, the five highest ranking individuals on the organization chart that report directly to the DA are white men. The Gang Unit, which I am told normally has 15 people when fully staffed (as opposed to the 12 it has had for some time because 3 ADAs are on leave running the Henning campaign) and overwhelmingly prosecutes black and latinx men, has one latinx ADA in the Unit. I am told that the Homicide Unit currently has no black or latinx ADAs in the Unit. Diversity doesn’t just happen, you have to be intentional. I have been intentional in this area my entire professional career. As a past President of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association and the current Chair of Legal Redress for the NAACP Boston Branch, I have strong connections with affinity and community groups. The SCDAO must reflect the rich diversity of Suffolk County.”

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions:

1 - Yes. On day one, I intend to bring in a select group of people for specific roles. These individuals will reflect the rich diversity of Suffolk County and will be replacing the current individuals in those roles. I fully commit to having a staff that reflects the rich diversity of Suffolk County.

2 - Yes. On day one.

3 - Yes. For every Larry Krasner, there is a Clarence Thomas.

TRAINING - Every ADA and staff member in the SCDAO will receive training from my good friend Adam Foss (who has endorsed me in this race) through his Prosecutor Impact program. He will be training all of my employees on implicit bias, the impacts that trauma, violence and stress have on people (young and old), the importance of understanding the history and culture of the communities and people that you serve, and other relevant topics.

Further, I will have my good friend Harvard Law School Professor and Criminal Defense Attorney Ronald Sullivan (who has endorsed me in this race) train all of our staff on conviction integrity -- fact-based wrongful convictions (many of which are based on eye-witness testimony and cross racial identifications), and convictions overturned based on biological matter or other forensic evidence -- and have him revamp the current unit in the SCDAO (which remains vacant since Donna Patalano left to run for Middlesex County DA over 8 months ago). Additionally, I fundamentally disagree with the practice of having Conviction Integrity Units housed within Appeals Units. These are two separate, distinct and very different Units that need their own staff and supervision.

SCREENING - Every current ADA (and Victim Witness Advocate and Investigator) will be asked about why they chose to work in the SCDAO, what ties and relationships they have to the community that they are sworn to and currently serve, and what organizations they belong to that support and uplift the communities that they have chosen to work with. Further, all supervisors or managers they will be asked to defend their hiring and promotion practices since they entered those positions. This is not an exhaustive list of my screening criteria.

4 - As a former civil defense attorney, civil rights attorney, and federal prosecutor that defended the U.S. Government when it was sued, I am well aware that you cannot terminate people based on their race.

That said, we are about to partake in a significant culture shift within the SCDAO. A large part of that shift is teaching the SCDAO staff that we are in a service industry and that the community we serve deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We have the privilege of serving the public. All of it -- victims, witnesses, defendants, and the family and friends of all three.

Further, the public and the legislature have spoken. Sweeping criminal justice reforms have been signed into law and changes are coming. It is my belief that there will be many people within the SCDAO that are interested in these changes and reforms, and there will be some people that are not. The employees that are not interested in implementing the reforms will either resign or be replaced. As employees begin to leave the SCDAO, I will be very intentional about replacing them with people that speak the different languages of Suffolk County and represent the different communities (with an emphasis on the communities that are most often coming into contact with the SCDAO and law enforcement) within Suffolk County.

5 - When you have a leader that is changing the system (e.g. Larry Krasner, Kim Foxx), people want to work for them. When I am elected, I will be the first female DA in the history of Suffolk County and the first woman of color in the history of Massachusetts to every be DA. I have had the privilege of being the first woman and the first person/woman of color in several of my positions prior to this one. There is a strong likelihood that my election as SCDA will make local, state and possibly even national news (due to Boston’s documented racist history and my national endorsements from Democracy for America and the Real Justice PAC). When people see that there is a woman of color leading the SCDAO and that she is committed to reforming the system, I believe we are going to have lots of qualified people interested in working in the SCDAO.

I intend to advocate for pay raises for ADAs and CPCS attorneys. It was my understanding that Governor Baker had allocated $6M in the FY19 budget to increase the starting salaries of ADAs from $47K to $53K. I am uncertain as to whether or not that increase will be delivered.

Finally, I have served on the hiring and diversity committees at Bingham McCutchen and the USAO. I was elected the President of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association and elected to serve on the Boston Bar Association Council. I was a Governor Patrick Appointee to the Judicial Nominating Commission, and I currently serve as the Chair of Legal Redress of the Boston Branch of the NAACP. These positions afford me direct access to qualified, diverse attorneys. I will utilize every resource and relationship that I have to find qualified people to work in the office. Under my leadership, we will no longer be “targeting” communities of color, unless it is for jobs or to find members to serve on my many advisory committees and task forces.

Grade Point Deductions:

(-0.0) Candidate specifically commits to a staff that reflects county demographics and date certain to begin process

(-0.0) Candidate specifically commits to staff reflecting individuals the DA’s office prosecutes and date certain to begin process

(-0.0) Candidate gives specific, detailed answers demonstrating knowledge of race and gender gaps in the current office staff, and commits to specific training and screening criteria to ensure fitness of future staff

(-0.0) Candidate does not mention specific end date but commits to immediate and ongoing efforts to hiring staff reflective of individuals the office prosecutes

(-0.0) Candidate mentions importance of recruiting and retaining quality attorneys and identifies multiple structural impediments and specific plans to overcome them

Grade: D (4.0 - 0.0 = 4.0)

Total Grade Points for this Section: 4.0 (A) x 15% = .60

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Candidates had from July 8, 2018 to July 23, 2018 to answer the following 5 questions, including additional questions for select candidates, to improve their grades. Only Rachael Rollins submitted complete answers by deadline +

  • Does the candidate pledge to hire and fire immediately, or as soon as is practicable, until her/his staff corresponds to the racial, ethnic, and economic demographics of Suffolk County? What is the candidate’s proposed start date to begin this process? (.75 grade points)
  • More importantly, does the candidate pledge to hire and fire immediately, or as soon as is practicable, until her/his staff corresponds to the racial, ethnic, and economic demographics of the individuals the DA’s office prosecutes? What is the candidate’s proposed start date to begin this process? (1 grade point)
  • Does the candidate acknowledge that race, ethnicity, and economic status alone are insufficient to ensure fair, effective prosecutorial decision-making? What additional training and screening criteria will the candidate implement to ensure that s/he is retaining and hiring the right people? (1 grade point)
  • In order to make prosecutors reflective of the racial, ethnic, and economic demographics of the individuals the Suffolk County DA’s office prosecutes, the next DA will have to fire 90 white attorneys and in their place hire 46 black attorneys, 20 Hispanic attorneys, and 24 Asian attorneys. In order to keep office operations running smoothly, and anticipating significant pushback from existing staff, what is the candidate’s proposed end date to accomplish this? (.25 grade points)
  • How does the candidate plan to recruit and retain 90 quality attorneys of color when the office has the lowest per capita starting salaries in the country and a long history of disproportionately targeting communities of color? (1 grade point)

Additional Questions for Greg Henning:

  • You rightly mention the legislature is responsible for the lowest starting pay in the country. But the legislature has been aware of this for at least four decades and has done nothing. How do you plan to change its mind, and/or change the office flow chart to direct more money to prosecutors if the legislature balks?
  • You have worked in the DA’s office for many years. You, a white male, led a unit of almost all white prosecutors that almost exclusively prosecuted young men of color, requested the highest amounts of cash bail, charged the most mandatory minimums, and sought some of the longest sentences of any unit in the office. Of all five candidates, you had, without question – given your length of time in the office and proximity to leadership – the greatest ability and opportunity to address the office’s glaring racial disparities in hiring. Can you point voters to any emails, memos, or letters you sent to Dan Conley, or any other office employee in human resources or any other unit, during your tenure in the office, demonstrating your concern about the lack of diversity in your unit, in the Youth Violence Strike Force with which your unit works closely, and throughout the office generally?
  • As a white male, you are proposing to fix the enormous existing racial disparity that exists among lawyers in the office by adding yet another white male lawyer to top leadership. Do you acknowledge the inherent contradiction your candidacy presents? If you are willing to make an exception for yourself, will you make similar exceptions for all of your white colleagues and friends in the office?
  • At the start of your campaign, you personally loaned your campaign $10,000, giving you a distinct advantage over any candidates of color who might later want to join the race. Did it occur to you that in doing this you could be utilizing a well-documented and persistent structural racial wealth gap in Massachusetts to your advantage?

Additional Questions for Shannon McAuliffe:

  • You mentioned your frontline staff at Roca were 40% white. What percentage of the young people that Roca serves is white? Does the significant racial and ethnic disparity between frontline employees and the individuals Roca serves concern you? What are the reasons you can give to explain this disparity?
  • At the start of your campaign, you personally loaned your campaign $10,000, giving you a distinct advantage over any candidates of color who might later decide to join the race. Did it occur to you that in doing this you could be utilizing a well-documented and persistent structural racial wealth gap in Massachusetts to your advantage?
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Greg Henning explains how lack of witness cooperation adversely impacts public safety at the Hibernian Hall debate on June 7, 2018.

 
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  • The entire purpose of a prosecution-based public safety apparatus is to prove cases beyond a reasonable doubt

  • Civilians witnesses and victims must trust the system and work closely with police and prosecutors in order for this to happen

  • When police and prosecutors behave in a way that engenders mistrust in the communities they serve, it undermines the ability of the system to function

  • Nothing is more chilling to the administration of justice than ICE agents lurking around courthouses looking to detain and deport undocumented victims, witnesses, and defendants

  • For these reasons, (assuming for the purposes herein that a prosecution-based carceral public safety apparatus can actually work) civilian witness cooperation is perhaps the most important indicator of a healthy, functioning system

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JP Progressives Candidates Survey +

  1. Undocumented immigrants involved with the criminal justice system are more liable for deportation under the Trump Administration and the work of Immigration, Customs, Enforcement (ICE). Can we count on you not to cooperate with ICE? What other steps will you take to protect undocumented immigrants?

Hibernian Hall Debate, June 7, 2018 +

  1. What are the best approaches to compel reluctant witnesses to cooperate, and are their approaches you would forbid in your office?

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions +

  1. Does the candidate have a plan to improve witness cooperation with the DA’s office outside of threatening witnesses with bench warrants for failure to appear? What is the plan? Does the plan include measuring the percentage of civilian witnesses who are not appearing in all courts on all cases, and to determine the reason(s)? Does the candidate plan to measure whether there is a causal nexus between how police treat residents and victim/witness cooperation? What is the candidate’s timetable for collecting and analyzing this data? (1.5 grade points)

  2. Does the candidate have a plan to protect witnesses who testify in court, including funds earmarked for temporary and/or permanent housing when appropriate? What is the plan, and how much funding will it include? (1 grade point)

  3. Does the candidate have a door-to-door security plan to protect undocumented litigants (including defendants) from being deported by ICE when they are coming to and from court? How does the candidate plan to do this without attracting the attention of ICE and/or DHS? What is the plan? (1 grade point)

  4. Will the candidate pledge to pressure CJAM, individual presiding justices, and the legislature (as New York State has recently proposed) to prohibit ICE agents – via trespass warning and/or legislation – from entering courthouse property without valid warrants identifying specific individuals and signed by federal judges in their bodily possession? What will the candidate do if CJAM and/or the state legislature refuse to act on this? (.5 grade points)

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Evandro Carvalho’s Response +

JP Progressives Candidates Survey:

1 - “As an immigrant, I understand the challenges and fears the community faces. I still live in a predominantly immigrant community where people are hiding because of the recent national policies. I will continue to work with the immigrant communities to rebuild their trust and develop more lines of communication. As District Attorney, I hope to bring on an immigrant counsel as is done in other counties to work with and train all our prosecutors to better understand the consequences of charges on immigrants. I will also look into working with advocates who would guide immigrants step by step through the process, similar to witness advocates.”

Hibernian Hall debate answer

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions:

N/A Candidate did not answer by deadline.

Grade Point Deductions:

(-1.25) Candidate mentions key structural issue of rebuilding trust, but no mention of specific plan outlining how to achieve this. No mention of collecting witness cooperation data and evaluating cause(s).

(-1) No mention of plan with funding to protect/relocate witnesses

(-.25) Candidate mentions helping undocumented witnesses, and hiring advocates to help witnesses, but no mention of door-to-door protection plan

(-.5) No mention of trespass warning or legislation keeping DHS/ICE out of courthouses

Grade: D (4.0 - 3.0 = 1.0)

Equity Adjustment: +0.25^

Adjusted Grade: D+ (1.0 + 0.25 = 1.25)

Total Grade Points for this Section: 1.25 x 15% = .19

^The candidate received an equity adjustment of +0.25 because as a former immigrant to the United States he has standing on the issue of protecting immigrants that candidates that were born here do not. The principle underpinning such adjustments is that the people who are closest to problems are also closest to solutions.

Linda Champion’s Response +

JP Progresssives Candidates Survey:

1 - “Yes, and to abide by Lunn v. Comm. Our job is to serve as the sole voice for victims. To do this we have to make sure all victims and witnesses feel safe coming forward to report crime and to provide evidence. My office will not voluntarily submit any information to ICE without court order to do so. As I stated at the time of the forum, I will use the tools available under federal law to protect witnesses and victims to properly protect them under the federal laws with the use of U-Visas. I will also retain an ADA who is a trained immigration lawyer to quickly identify the collateral consequences that exist for undocumented witnesses to make sure they are not unnecessarily subjected to ICE jurisdiction.”

Hibernian Hall debate answer

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions:

N/A Candidate did not answer by deadline.

Grade Point Deductions

(-1.5) Candidate repeatedly mentions protecting witnesses and victims individually without referencing any of the structural reasons they live in fear of testifying. No mention of collecting witness cooperation data and evaluating cause(s).

(-1) No mention of plan to protect/relocate witnesses

(-.75) Candidate mentions helping undocumented witnesses, including U visas, but no mention of door-to-door protection plan beyond one trained ADA

(-.5) No mention of trespass warning or legislation keeping DHS/ICE out of courthouses

Grade: F (4.0 - 3.75 = .25)

Total Grade Points for this Section: .25 x 15% = .04

Greg Henning’s Response +

JP Progressive Candidates Survey:

1 - “President Trump’s policy of arresting illegal immigrants at the courthouses is a disgraceful failure because it makes us less safe. In discouraging victims and witnesses from coming to the courthouse and assisting with prosecutions, we are hindered in our ability to successfully hold offenders accountable and protect victims of crime. When victims come to us in a time of need, I will ensure that our prosecutors do not inquire into their residency status, simply because it is irrelevant. Every witness and victim who is affected by crime needs our help and we need to give them the full spectrum of services we offer, regardless of whether those people are United States citizens or not. In keeping with the decision of our own Supreme Judicial Court, I will not honor ICE detainers as a means for holding immigrants in a jail cell without bail.”

Hibernian Hall debate answer

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions:

N/A Candidate did not answer by deadline.

Grade Point Deductions

(-1.45) Candidate accurately identifies federal government behaviors that discourage witnesses and victims from cooperating, and how this negatively impacts public safety, but then candidate inexplicably neglects to apply the same formula to local law enforcement behaviors and practices. No mention of data collection or timetable

(-1) No mention of plan to protect/relocate witnesses

(-.75) Candidate mentions helping undocumented witnesses, but no mention of door-to-door protection plan

(-.5) No mention of trespass warning or legislation keeping DHS/ICE out of courthouses

Final Grade: F (4.0 - 3.70 = .30)

Total Grade Points for this Section: .30 x 15% = .05

Further elaboration on questions 1-4 in the section below needed by July 23, 2018 to improve grade, including supplemental questions specific to the candidate (best possible grade = 4.0)

Shannon McAuliffe's Response +

JP Progressives Candidates Survey:

1 - “My record representing undocumented persons in federal court, as opposed to representing Homeland Security/ICE in those proceedings, speaks volumes of my future performance. My office will take immigration consequences into account when determining what to charge and in offering dispositions. When a disposition will trigger immigration consequences, the line ADA must meet with her supervisor to explain why an alternative disposition is not appropriate before proceeding. In addition, prosecutors will be trained in the devastating immigration consequences that can flow from any disposition, even seemingly minor ones. Crimes of moral turpitude and aggravated felonies (selling a small amount of drugs) can trigger deportation and permanently bar one from ever presiding in or returning to the US. We obtain real justice when prosecutors appreciate all consequences for all people. Notably, these cases present an opportunity where a defendant will be highly motivated to do the right thing, comply with probation, obtain a job, and address the root cause of their criminality. Prosecutors must recognize and use this moment to connect defendants to the services and programs they need to lift up and out of the system when possible.”

Hibernian Hall debate answer

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions:

N/A Candidate did not answer by deadline.

Grade Point Deductions

(-.75) Candidate mentions supervisory checks and balances, collateral consequences, and structural issues of trust, which is excellent, but does not relate community trust back to police treatment of communities, or how to improve this. No mention of collecting and analyzing data

(-1) No mention of plan to protect/relocate witnesses

(-1) Candidate mentions helping witnesses, but no mention of door-to-door protection plan

(-.5) No mention of trespass warning or legislation keeping DHS/ICE out of courthouses

Final Grade: D- (4.0 – 3.25 = 0.75)

Total Grade Points for this Section: 0.75 x 15% = .11

Rachael Rollins's Response +

JP Progressives Candidates Survey:

1 - “Yes. Further, if defendants or people charged with crimes within Suffolk County are arrested or detained by ICE in courts within my jurisdiction, we will have a policy that I am called personally to handle the situation.”

Hibernian Hall debate answer

Perfect D.A. Scorecard Follow-up Questions:

1 - Absolutely. The plan to improve witness cooperation starts with admitting that the SCDAO has a terrible, nearly non-existent relationship with the communities that it routinely over-polices and over-prosecutes. We need to work intentionally and consistently to mend those damaged and/or non-existent relationships. This process includes hiring people from these communities, specifically people that have been impacted by decisions made by the SCDAO. This process further includes asking people from those same impacted groups to serve on my Advisory Committees and Task Forces and giving them the same standing and say as everyone else on the Advisory Committee and Task Force.

The plan also requires additional funding from the legislature. The witness protection program is significantly underfunded.

There are many reasons why people are not coming forward as witnesses -- they don’t trust the police, they are scared for their own safety, they don’t want the hassle of having to be relocated or protected, they don’t know that there are relocation and protection options for them if they chose to come forward. Each of these potential reasons further solidify the need for transparency and information sharing with the people of Suffolk County. The SCDAO website is not user friendly and the office is not working within the community to educate people about the services that the office provides. This will change under my leadership.

I will measure this data and intend to start within 90-180 days.

2 - I am working on this plan, which will absolutely include earmarked funding for housing. Additional funding for this plan will be requested from the legislature. In the interim, we will be using the surplus from the current civil asset forfeiture fund within the SCDAO.

3 - I have been vocal about my position regarding ICE. My primary job as DA is to keep communities safe and to get justice for victims. All SCDAO staff will be informed that if they witness any ICE or other federal agents questioning, detaining or arresting any person in or outside a Suffolk County Courthouse, I am to be called directly. ICE is already in Chelsea several times a week. This information is being disseminated among impacted communities. If Suffolk County residents are refusing to come to court to report, testify about or admit to a crime out of fear of deportation, that is not keeping Suffolk County safe. I have said, and will continue to say, that if I have to file an injunction to get the litigant or individual returned to my jurisdiction, I will.

Ideally, I want to follow the lead of DA Krasner in Philadelphia and end ICE access to our databases (The BRIC, Gang Database, etc.). In the interim, within my first 30 days I will implement a door-to-door security plan utilizing victim witness advocates and civil rights and defense attorneys to escort undocumented parties to and from the courthouse safely. The plan will be kept confidential for important security reasons, but I will share with the public as much of the plan as possible without jeopardizing the safety and security of the parties the plan is intended to protect.

I also think we need to identify and publicize every local, state and federal department or agency that has access to the BRIC and to the Gang Database. It is my understanding that these, and potentially other, databases are where ICE is getting its information.

4 - Yes. If CJAM and the legislature refuses to act, I have said on the record that I will be filing an injunction, if necessary, to get that Suffolk County resident returned to my jurisdiction.

Grade Point Deductions

(-0.0) Candidate mentions important key structural issue of rebuilding trust, includes representation as important component, and commits to specific plan and date certain to begin rebuilding trust and collecting data to inform effort.

(-0.0) Candidate commits to plan to protect/relocate witnesses

(-0.0) Candidate commits to door-to-door plan to protect undocumented parties and litigants

(-0.0) Candidate commits to advocating for trespass warning and/or legislation keeping DHS/ICE out of Suffolk County courthouses unless they have valid warrants signed by justices in their bodily possession

Final Grade: A (4.0 – 0.0 = 4.0)

Total Grade Points for this Section: 4.0 x 15% = .60

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Candidates had from July 8, 2018 to July 23, 2018 to answer the following 5 questions, including additional questions for select candidates, to improve their grades. Only Rachael Rollins submitted complete answers by deadline +

  • Does the candidate have a plan to improve witness cooperation with the DA’s office outside of threatening witnesses with bench warrants for failure to appear? What is the plan? Does the plan include measuring the percentage of civilian witnesses who are not appearing in all courts on all cases, and to determine the reason(s)? Does the candidate plan to measure whether there is a causal nexus between how police treat residents and victim/witness cooperation? What is the candidate’s timetable for collecting and analyzing this data? (1.5 grade points)
  • Does the candidate have a plan to protect witnesses who testify in court, including funds earmarked for temporary and/or permanent housing when appropriate? What is the plan, and how much funding will it include? (1 grade point)
  • Does the candidate have a door-to-door security plan to protect undocumented litigants (including defendants) from being deported by ICE when they are coming to and from court? How does the candidate plan to do this without attracting the attention of ICE and/or DHS? What is the plan? (1 grade point)
  • Will the candidate pledge to pressure CJAM, individual presiding justices, and the legislature (as New York State has recently proposed) to prohibit ICE agents – via trespass warning and/or legislation – from entering courthouse property without valid warrants identifying specific individuals and signed by federal judges in their bodily possession? What will the candidate do if CJAM and/or the state legislature refuse to act on this? (.5 grade points)

Additional Questions for Greg Henning:

  • In the above video clip, you specifically acknowledge that the goal of the criminal justice system is to protect mothers “down the road” from losing children to gun violence. In order to do this, you state a willingness to do whatever is necessary, including drastic measures such as requesting bench warrants to jail reluctant witnesses. Do you acknowledge that such measures on your part may be having the opposite intended effect, causing victims and witnesses to remain in the shadows, reluctant to come forward on important cases down the road?
  • According to criminologists Anthony Braga, David Hureau, and Christopher Winship, gun homicide victims and offenders are very well known to the criminal justice system. 87% have had some previous contact. Of those with prior contact, homicide offenders have an average of seven previous arraignments. 55% of this group has been previously incarcerated and 57% has been on prior probation or parole supervision. The DA’s office, DOC, the Suffolk County Sheriff, and the probation and parole departments are being given seven-plus opportunities to prevent very well-known young people from losing their lives to gun violence. Despite being given multiple chances over multiple years, teen gun homicides doubled in 2017. As of June 14, homicides in 2018 were up 50%. Will there ever come a time when you acknowledge that the prosecution paradigm in which you are operating is ineffective at accomplishing your goal of preventing gun deaths?
  • During the Hibernian Hall debate, several other candidates attributed negative interactions with police in the community as one of the primary reasons victims and witnesses don’t trust the DA’s office and therefore do not come forward. You acknowledged that federal government behaviors cause witnesses to not come forward, but neglected to apply the same formula to local law enforcement. Why?
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