via Elise Swain/The Intercept
MANHATTAN - For far too long, the grand jury has been misused as a tool to secure indictments and quick plea deals by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Often, only evidence that supports the prosecution’s case is presented and mitigating evidence that may tell a fuller story is not. This type of one-sided presentation of evidence pressures defendants to take plea bargains and secures indictments without telling the whole story. The Intercept recently examined this practice in Tracey McCarter’s case.
Manhattan district attorney candidate Dan Quart will present all of the evidence to grand juries for their consideration, including mitigating evidence. In cases where the defendant is the survivor of domestic violence, Quart will present the evidence of domestic abuse, regardless of whether it is favorable or unfavorable to the prosecution. This is an urgent reform because a national study by the Vera Institute of Justice found that 86% of women who have ever been jailed also report surviving sexual assault and 77% percent have experienced partner violence.
This is a breakdown in the current system, one used by career prosecutors to expedite cases and secure pleas at the expense of justice. Even if the defendant is later found not guilty, just being indicted for a crime inflicts damage on an individual’s life. Presenting mitigating evidence to grand juries is a critical reform, and one that highlights why a non-prosecutor will be best positioned to reform this office, rather than a former prosecutor who has relied on the practice throughout their career.
“Survivors of sexual or domestic violence will not be prosecuted in my office for defending themselves against their abuser,” said Quart. “The district attorney’s office has done an abysmal job getting justice for survivors of sexual assault. I will build a survivor-centered Sex Crimes Unit as DA that won’t prosecute survivors for self-defense from their attackers.”
Read more below.
The Intercept: Tracey McCarter's Case Is Playing Into Manhattan DA Race
[...] Dan Quart, a state assembly member, was the only candidate who said he will not prosecute survivors of domestic or sexual violence for defending themselves against their abusers. If elected, he’s planning to create a sex crimes and gender justice unit to investigate those cases.
Read the full story here.