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Rebecca J. Kavanagh @DrRJKavanagh
, 20 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN: I'm working arraignments tonight, representing poor New Yorkers who were arrested yesterday on Thanksgiving.

It was the coldest Thanksgiving in more than a century. Tonight's also bitterly cold, even in the courtroom. I'm wearing my scarf & coat.
I didn't grow up here & it's become something of a Thanksgiving tradition for me to work arraignments. It feels apropos - I am thankful for the privilege to do this work.

Arraignment parts are open 365 days a year from 9 in the morning through 1AM.
First case tonight was someone charged with stealing a generator. There could be no more obvious crime of poverty. Thankfully the prosecutor agreed to release.
So many of our clients in public housing do not have heat.
With little prospect of relief in sight.…
Most of the cases I arraign tonight are petit larceny cases. And most of the items alleged to have been stolen are clothing. Underwear, jackets, socks. The sorts of things people need in bitterly cold weather.
I remember a a client I represented about a year ago. We were in the middle of a blizzard & my client had stolen thermal underwear, & happened to have a crack pipe on him when arrested.
At the time, the judge mocked me for saying he took the items b/c he was cold, insisting he took them to sell b/c he was an "addict." Like my client wasn't a human being in need of warm clothes like everyone else b/c maybe he also struggled w/ addiction.
Like a crack pipe couldn't also be a form of solace from the cold.
Tonight there are also a lot of drug cases & people suffering from addiction, many going through withdrawal. Thankfully we have a decent prosecutor who is agreeing to release without bail.
One case makes me especially enraged. It's a marijuana case. It's charged as misdemeanor marijuana sale.

Now you will remember there's been so much spin about marijuana laws in NYC lately.
@NYCMayor has announced a policy whereby NYPD are not supposed to arrest most people for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

And @BrooklynDA insists his office does not prosecute marijuana possession cases.

Tonight's case makes a mockery of both.
NYPD employ a practice where an undercover cop will approach a person on the street who is very obviously struggling w/ addiction & ask them to buy drugs for them, offering to split the drugs w/ them or give them cash. When the person obliges, they charge them with drug sale.
Here's an @nytimes article describing how this works.…
It's usually done with drugs like cocaine and heroin, I have seen it maybe once or twice with marijuana. It is in all cases morally reprehensible b/c it entraps people at their most vulnerable & it is a tremendous waste of resources to ensnare people who are not selling drugs.
Why the NYPD would set up a sting operation now to buy a small quantity of marijuana from a person when they are no longer arresting people for possessing marijuana makes absolutely no sense. Why @BrooklynDA would then prosecute that case also makes no sense.
The prosecutor refuses to dismiss the case.
I make a long record as to why this is wrong & no one responds. As a public defender, you often feel that you are shouting into the wind, no one hears you. Sometimes Twitter can be very powerful - people pay attention to things they otherwise wouldn't.
So, @NYCMayor & @BrooklynDA, what's up with that?
Thank you all so much for listening. I hope everyone had lovely Thanksgivings. Good night!
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