‘It’s insanity’: Hundreds of NYC prosecutors quitting over ‘woke’ criminal justice reforms

In the midst of what one former top prosecutor called “insanity” created by New York City’s woke criminal justice reforms, hundreds of prosecutors have walked out of the city’s district attorneys’ offices.

“Sixty-five assistant district attorneys, or about 12 percent of the staff, have resigned so far this year from Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office, up from about 44 through the end of March,” the New York Post reports. “During all of 2021, 97 ADAs quit.”

The exodus was mirrored at Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez’s office, where 67 out of the roughly 500 prosecutors, representing about 13%, threw in the towel as of June 17. On Thursday alone, three more quit, according to a Post source.

For perspective, in all of 2020, 84 left the office, and 94 quit last year.

Over the five months between January and May, 59 Bronx prosecutors walked out.

The resignations in Manhattan started just two weeks into Bragg’s tenure after he issued a “Day One” memo instructing ADAs to downgrade certain felonies to misdemeanors and to decline to seek prison sentences for a host of criminals.

In response, nine prosecutors headed for the door.

Among the reforms is one adopted by the state in 2019 that requires lawyers to hand over to the defense “reams of material” under strict time constraints.

“It’s crippling,” said Joan Illuzzi-Orban, a former Manhattan ADA and trial division chief. “You become a file clerk rather than a trial lawyer.”

And Illuzzi-Orban knows something about trying cases. She won a 2016 conviction in the 1979 kidnapping and murder of Etan Patz in Soho. More recently, she took on Harvey Weinstein in one of the most sensational trials of our time.

As an example of the evidentiary burden, she said that in a case involving a crime at a protest, prosecutors could be forced to produce the bodycam footage of every police officer at the event.

“It’s insanity,” she said. “Most of it is completely irrelevant and not germane in any way to the issues of the case.”

And if you take too long to produce it, you might just see your entire case get tossed from the system.

“There are tons of cases getting dismissed,” she said.

Knowing that Bragg would want to put his own people in place, Illuzzi-Orban left the Manhattan office for the Manhattan Institute in January.

With so many prosecutors heading for saner pastures, New York City is experiencing a staffing shortage.

Testifying to the City Council in March, Bragg stated that, as a result of the burdensome evidentiary requirements, “we’ve experienced record attrition, as our ADAs burned out and sought less demanding jobs for more money.”

In her testimony to the Council, Bronx DA Darcel Clark said departing ADAs “cited the responsibilities of discovery, managing the backlog of cases, and increased night and weekend shifts among their main reasons for leaving the office.”

According to Bragg’s office, Manhattan is expected to bring in at least 85 new ADAs by September’s end.

Back in the Bronx, Clark is moving greener prosecutors up the ranks quickly in order to take on felony cases and cope with the staffing shortage.

Said one source, “Of course it is going to affect the handling of cases, when you have inexperienced lawyers trying cases.”

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