MANHATTAN - After transferring $8.2 million of her own money to her campaign to buy Manhattan district attorney’s office, Tali Farhadian Weinstein unleashed a misleading smear campaign on candidate Dan Quart. The tone of the ad and the fear-mongering it plays into aside, Farhadian Weinstein’s assertion that Quart would not protect survivors of domestic violence is patently false. Farhadian Weinstein intentionally misrepresents Quart’s position or she fundamentally misunderstands what domestic violence cases look like in the real world.
On the substance of the ad:
Quart’s position on domestic violence is survivor centered, while Farhadian Weinstein’s is paternalistic. As Manhattan’s next district attorney, Quart will drop most cases in cross-complaints when both parties don’t want to proceed, centering and respecting the voices of survivors. Farhadian Weinstein will continue to prosecute those cases, even where parties don't want to go forward, on the logic that she knows better than the complainants.
Farhadian Weinstein’s position has serious implications for each party's stability. When a case remains open, an order of protection is almost always imposed, and one party cannot remain in the home, cannot be present to provide child care or senior care. Because most people who are prosecuted in domestic violence cases are poor, they cannot just go to a second home (as a billionaire may think) but instead are forced to turn to the shelter system until their case is resolved.
Keeping cases open, even where parties don't want to go forward, often prevents a person from working, a consequence that can affect an entire family's stability.
The harm that these orders can cause was recently covered in reporting from The New York Times.
Shamika Crawford stood before the judge the day she was arrested in the Bronx. She was free to go, but not to go home: The judge issued an order of protection that barred her from her own apartment.
For the next 88 days, Ms. Crawford was left homeless based on a vaguely worded misdemeanor assault complaint filed by her on-again, off-again boyfriend. She lived in her car and crashed on a friend’s couch. She lost her full-time job. With nowhere to bring her two young children, she left them with the boyfriend, their father, in her public-housing apartment where she kept paying the rent.
“It seems like whoever calls the cops, that’s whose side they’re on,” said Ms. Crawford, 35.
When another judge finally scrutinized the case, it unraveled, and was eventually dismissed.
Situations like Ms. Crawford’s, say public defenders in New York City and some domestic-violence experts, are an everyday occurrence in a corner of the justice system where defendants are effectively presumed guilty rather than innocent.
The temporary protection order, also known as a stay-away order, is a well-intentioned pretrial precaution to shield people from abusive partners. But it is issued with such abandon in city courts that it has become a sentence unto itself. One state lawmaker, Assemblyman Dan Quart of Manhattan, said its overuse amounted to a “family separation policy.”
Prosecutors in domestic violence cases almost always request the orders, and judges grant them almost reflexively: In Ms. Crawford’s case in 2019, the judge said he would issue the order before he had even given her lawyer a chance to speak on it.
But because the vast majority of misdemeanor domestic-violence cases end up getting dismissed, the temporary orders rarely become permanent. In criminal court in the Bronx, which has by far the city’s highest rate of domestic-violence complaints, less than 4 percent of temporary protection orders were converted to permanent ones last year, the state court system said.
Yet the orders typically remain in place for months. And the consequences for people with low incomes and few resources are often disastrous, long after the underlying criminal charge has vanished. Public defenders across the city described case after case where people lose their jobs, their homes, their rental assistance. Immigrants are detained for months. Displaced people sleeping in their cars get attacked and beaten. Families are torn apart.
“It’s punishing somebody before they get convicted of anything, in a huge way,” said Eli Northrup, one of Ms. Crawford’s lawyers with the Bronx Defenders. “Every single day, you have people walking out of the courthouse, and they have nowhere to go.”
In Ms. Crawford’s case, one judge extended the protection order after prosecutors cited an “extensive” history of “at least 16” domestic-violence reports. They did not mention that all of them listed her boyfriend as the aggressor.
[...] Lawyers at the Bronx Defenders have filed a challenge in Ms. Crawford’s case asking a state appellate court to rule that she was entitled to a hearing requiring prosecutors to demonstrate that the protection order was necessary. A favorable decision could have the effect of creating a rule entitling defendants to such hearings when they are removed from their homes. The court is expected to decide within weeks.
A bill before the State Legislature calling for the same thing and sponsored by Mr. Quart, who is also running for Manhattan district attorney, stalled before the session ended last week.
Read the full story here.