Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 Archive: Board Elections

As you may know, the Pre-Law Society Board runs on a calendar year, meaning that we will be determining the new board over the course of the next few weeks.  The application for board positions is attached and while you can apply for as many as you would like, you are strongly encouraged to apply for no more than two positions.  Interviews will take place on the evenings of Sunday, Dec. 4 and potentially Dec. 11, depending on the number of applicants.  We will contact you with details after you submit the applications.  If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to email me.  

Please email your applications to by 5 PM on December 3, 2010.  Do not email your application to the Pre-Law Society board address.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2011 Blog Archive: Panel Discussion


Assistant District Attorney Erin LaFarge of the New York County District Attorney's Office.  She works in Trial Bureau 80 and is a 2007 Columbia Law School graduate. working there 5 years. Does all kinds of cases.

Seann Riley: Deputy Director of Bronx Defenders- small case load. different from most PD offices practices holistic advocacy. Immigration court, family court etc. 

Sharon Brodt: Supervisor in the Appeals Bureau of the Queens  County District Attorney’s Office.  She has worked in the Office of the QDA since 1993.   In addition to he rappellate work, Ms. Brodt was the second seat on two homicide trials, including the multiple homicide in the Wendy’s in Flushing, New York, in which the jury voted to impose the death penalty on the defendant.

Miriam Goodman: Women’s specialist at Midtown Community Court (MCC). Miriam oversees and facilitates the Women’s Independence Safety and Empowerment (WISE) program, a comprehensive psycho-educational and therapeutic program for women arrested for prostitution.  Miriam is also a therapist at the Safe Horizon’s Counseling Center, where she provides trauma-focused therapy for crime victims. She received her BA in Sociology from Dickinson College and her MSW from the Silver School of Social Work at New York University. Not an attorney; a social worker. Oversees the whole entire clinic.

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Did you always want to work in the Public Sector? Tell us about your experiences
Erin LaFarge: The only thing she wanted to do was public service. Working in South Africa and all her coworkers had a law degree. While in Law school, interned at district attorney’s office and it sparked her interest in the field. She only does felonies right now. There are many cases that are unique, never a dull moment in her job. Ex of a case: 4 people with a gun in a car. Interestingly, social media is large platform that divulges information about convicted individuals. 

Seann Riley: Went to law school knowing he wanted to be a public defender, was interested in poverty law. “Liberty is one of the greatest goods...people that can’t afford fancy lawyers should still have the resources everyone else does.” Believes that working on behalf of the poor is the highest good in the law. What people are in jail for in NY deal with crimes of poverty and quality of life crimes. Most of the crimes are not huge violent crimes...we are packing our jails with people that commit quality of life crimes. For him, being a public defender is about changing the system and changing the ways people see courts of power. 

Sharon Brodt: Thinks both sides are the highest level of service. Not a publicly appreciated isn’t that well. With that said, appeals working grants one great satisfaction. Lawyers work in courts (working right away with 70 case caseloads). Within a year was in the NY State court of appeals. Your lawyering skills are used to the utmost very quickly. Worked on the latest NY death penalty case- extremely exhausting but very interesting. Case finally struck down NY’s death penalty law. 

Miriam Goodman: Midtown Community court mission: to deal with quality of life crimes [low level offenses], offers punishment dealing with community service while also giving support. Top charge that you see is shoplifting, borough-wide control over prostitution cases. People get mandates that actually address their needs [shoplifting with substance abuse etc.]. The broad range of people that commit crimes [homeless people, rich people, tourist that accidentally got arrested for shoplifting]. Staff looks at people as reacting to their environment, doesn’t label people. Has heard many stories about abuse which were very shocking. Also dealt with inspirational stories, one being about a 18-time convicted prostitute who ended up leaving her pimp, getting a high school degree and going to college

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Can you talk about eyewitness identification cases?

Seann Riley: NJ is the biggest reformer of eyewitness identification cases. ID cases aren’t like what television shows depict. Everything is covered except for faces. He’s working on an ID case right now where the eyewitness off by 8 inches [height] and 40 lbs [weight] but the court still thinks the case is viable.

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What’s next in your career plans? 

Erin LaFarge: I have no desire to leave the DA’s office. When people leave it’s often for the private sector to make more money in order to pay off debts.. etc. 

Seann Riley: Many people go on to academia and teach at law schools. The job is mentally and physically taxing so after about 10 years many people go on to become federal defenders because it’s slower paced and more 9-5.

Sharon Brodt: There are those who leave for financial reasons and sometimes there are other public sector jobs (serving the public in a different way) ie. working in government offices for politicians

Miriam Goodman: Some people go on to become judges. 

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What about ID cases dealing with minorities? Is there anything being done to reduce racial profiling?

Seann Riley: Nothing. the poor are over-policed. it’s not that the poor do more crimes but they are watched more... Young, black, and hispanic men are stopped far more often for marijuana crimes than white individuals. 

Sharon Brodt:  has seen defendants of every stripe/color in Queens. You also have to be careful of using the term ‘racial profiling’ if one states that they were robbed by a white/black man and police look for people of this description, then this isn’t racial profiling. But if no crime is reported and certain groups are stopped, then this is racial profiling. Usually people victimize people in their own neighborhood and not others. If you want to police crime, you have to look at where the crime actually is. 

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Have you dealt with stereotypes in your job? How do you deal with that?

Erin LaFarge: Law & Order is filmed outside her building so she is submerged within the stereotype. Has to explain to clients why everything isn’t forensically overanalyzed. It’s hard to explain to jury’s why these extra measures are’t being taken, especially because they were so expensive. 

Seann Riley: The stereotype that often comes up is when clients ask him when he will be a “paid lawyer”. There’s a stereotype that public defenders aren’t “good lawyers”. 

Miriam Goodman: In my field you don’t have the respect right away. “social worker” brings up this frumpy, bleeding liberal image but many of them do great work. No matter what walk of life, one always needs a supportive law staff. If you’re doing the job well it should impact you. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

2011 Archive: Panel Discussion

When? Tuesday, November 15th, 8 pm
Where? Lerner 569

"Law isn't like what you see on TV." You've heard it a million times, but people do deal with crimes involving drugs, prostitution, and murder every day. Come hear these people speak about their experiences as well as network with representatives from one of the biggest internship providers for college students, the public sector. Our event will include a Public Defender from Bronx Defenders, a clerk from the Midtown Community Court, and an Assistant DA. 

For more information, contact us and check us out on Facebook